The Key to Transfer Learning is with your Managers

2022.10.16 Fenix Bretz
Maximizing Learning Transfer through your Managers

Managers are perhaps your most valuable asset when it comes to the potential effectiveness of training and the degree of learning transfer. This is also why Kodo Survey have a feature that involves the manager in the learning process. With the right leadership, their involvement can more or less only maximize learning transfer, and the value of learning transfer is undeniable.

Recently, a study was conducted with an Australian based energy corporation; the intent was to gauge how important supervisor involvement was when it came to how well the training prepared new hires. Support prior, during, and after the training was evaluated. The results showed that there were certain supervisor behaviours that did, in fact, contribute to transfer of learning; among these behaviours were modelling, providing frequent feedback, creating a supportive network within the office, and encouragement.

Too many of today’s organizations are presenting their training courses in a stand-alone way, and of course, while a strong program is at the core of what drives transfer of learning, it is the support structure surrounding the program that increases its efficacy. In a 2014 article: Improving learning transfer: Using brain science to drive successful learning transfer, author Carol Leaman contends that training is still seen as “an isolated event” with even supervisors being “slow to accept responsibility for creating an ideal environment for learning transfer.” Doing that would make the difference between a program that gives you great ROI or one that is stagnant and produces little to no results.

Read more about maximizing transfer of learning in one of our other articles: 

- A 3-step learning transfer model for your managers
Learning transfer strategies from the best businesses
Learning transfer system inventory: The three top factors

Maximizing Transfer of Learning through your Managers.

We all know that it's good with learning activities before a classroom training starts, as well as afterwards. Have you ever thought about the supervisor’s role though? Below are steps/activities that your managers should undertake in order to help enhance the learning experience and transfer of learning: 

manager role for learning transfer


  • The managers need to express interest, genuinely engage learners and thereby, make it known that they are there to offer support. Employees who go into training after a “superficial” meeting with their manager, enters the process less than enthused, not demonstrating the same level of commitment as those who felt a more earnest form of encouragement in their pre-training meeting.
  • Identify the goals and objectives. Yes, the learner will encounter these on his/her own, but by reinforcing these before training starts, the manager is again showing yet another level of investment in the employee’s training and growth. 

The Kodo Survey report that goes out to the learner and his/her manage contains everything they need to have a productive conversation about exactly these things.

manager role for learning transfer


  • The manager should be available throughout the training period. Perhaps an employee has questions arising from a specific module, want to bounce newly acquired ideas, or they may simply wish to reaffirm what they’ve been learning. Regardless, the more accessible a manager is during the program, the more learning will take place.
  • If possible, be present during the programme, such as offering a guest lecture, etc. If the manager is on site and involved, the learner will feel further encouraged in his/her endeavour.
  • Act as a role model. The effectiveness of modelling on learning transfer is massive. Think of it this way, learning is very much a social activity; meaning, it does not take place in a vacuum. The presence of a manager who in turn acts as a role model serves to reify the social aspect of the training and demonstrates how the acquired skills, knowledge and behaviour can be put to use.

manager role for learning transfer


  • Perhaps in some ways most critical to learning transfer, is the ‘after’ period. If you teach the necessary skills and behaviours, but then just leave them to linger unattended, your learning transfer rates and ROI risk being very weak. By having managers follow up with their employees, they can reinforce the knowledge and skills taught. They can ask about how these are helping with real-time work situations, and they can of course address any questions and concerns.
  • Beyond just checking up on the employee, the manager is going to want to spend time evaluating how these skills are transferring and consequently, how the learner is performing. Based on such evaluations, your company can then make adjustments as needed.
  • Provide time for practising new skills. While certainly, the on-the-job experience will help them to hone what they have learned, offering time and opportunity for practising such skills can definitely go a long way as far as driving learning transfer. If a manager takes the initiative and sets up relevant scenarios, the employee is more apt to apply and experiment with all that he/she has learned.
1-2-1 development dialogue


Kodo Survey helps make it easy for managers to really roll up their sleeves, get in there and make your training program more relevant. First off, with Kodo Survey, expectations and objectives are made clearer and more transparent. One of the biggest hindrances to employees absorbing the right kinds of knowledge is communication. Through the automatic, tailor-made reporting sent to the learner and his/her manager, we give them the ability to have far more meaningful discussions about what exactly the desired outcomes are and what needs to be done to achieve them.

In carefully analyzing learning data, we can pinpoint what should be improved and what training areas need emphasizing. In the end, we all want the same thing: to maximize your ROI when it comes to your training. Understanding how to use your managers to your advantage in this capacity is a key component of creating truly effective L&D programs.

Want to know more?

Determine learning impact, learning transfer and behavioral development in an easy way.
Expose gaps so that you can improve quality and maximize effect both before and after a programme.
Get data-driven insights, enabling you to increase course or portfolio performance and reduce cost.

Now that we have used Kodo for a while, we see how easy it is to follow the learning impact and transfer of learning to the workplace. The insights we receive help us to continuously improve courses and programmes.

kodo survey
Kristoffer Laag
HR Strategist