Back at work after an interesting course

“How are you going to apply the stuff you’ve learned in your work now?” That was the first thing my manager asked me when I returned to work after a training. Well … good question. I learned a lot, had some great new insights and conducted interesting assignments. And much of the material seemed very useful for my daily work. But what was I going to do differently? Hmm …first let’s start with the big pile of work that had accumulated in my absence. Later I would think about it and identify specific points of improvement.
Later became tomorrow, tomorrow became next week and before I knew, the training vanished into the background.

Learning Transfer
This example shows that a good learning transfer does not always come automatically. Despite the good intentions, it is proving difficult to specify how you will apply the new knowledge into your work practice. In my example my manager was aware of his role towards me. And he showed it by asking that question. Of course, the participant is the one to make the transfer, but I’m convinced the manager can, in many cases, support him more explicitly. The manager often works closely with the participant and can therefore play a key role in the transfer process. Unfortunately, at least in my experience, managers who are aware of this role are quite scarce.
The L&D advisor is the one to create awareness of the influence the manager has on the learning transfer and can stimulate him or her to get more supportive.

The manager’s role
But how can a manager support his employees in the process of learning transfer? And how can he stimulate learning to be an integral part of daily work?
Some tips:

  • Encourage your employees to learn and develop; and be open about the allocation of the budget for education. This creates an open atmosphere in which employees can take the initiative for learning activities. For their personal development or for the benefit of the whole department.
  • Ensure that the participant has sufficient time to master the new way of working.
  • Allow participants to make mistakes. He or she must adopt new ways of behaviour and that takes time.
  • Show your commitment. Monitor the progress or join a part of the training yourself.
  • Coach and encourage the participants.
  • Discuss the realization of the goals and talk about the translation of the new knowledge into practice. Or, ask the participant to share some of the new knowledge in the next team meeting.

Doing this you’ll integrate learning and development more and more in everyday work.

Support of the L&D advisor
The L&D department can assist management in all these things. For example, by making sure the arrangements and expectations are clear. Or define a transfer plan. Who is responsible for which activity in each phase of the training?

More about the role of the L&D Advisor in my next blog…