By Gerry Murray. 26-09-2021
(Scroll down for a laugh)

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” ~ Aristotle

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Have you ever been on a training and wondered why you're there? Or, as a trainer, have you ever been giving a training course and wondered why the participants are there? Or even, why you're doing training and not something else instead (e.g. coaching) to help participants address their development needs? 

Did you know that only about 20% of what people learn on a training actually gets transferred into the workplace? This means that 80% of the effort, investment, etc is effectively wasted.

That's not a great return on investment! 

Why is this so? 

It's a combination of the three factors mentioned below. 

Every year I aim to do some personal or professional development to update or increase my skills. In October I will participate in the Training Transfer Effectiveness Certification training. The purpose of the training is to increase the effectiveness of training and development programmes and ensure that what is learned on a training gets transferred and used by the participants afterwards

I interviewed Transfer Effectiveness creator, Dr Ina Weinbauer-Heidel, about her 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness for Leading People in May of this year. The 12 Levers can be organised into three core elements and the goal of each lever can be expressed in what we would like participants on training programmes to say:  

Trainees (4 Levers)

Do trainees say?
“Yes, I want this!”
“Yes, I can do this!”
“Yes, I'm determined to stay on the ball and follow through when I get back to work!”
“I know what I’m supposed to learn and I want to learn it!”

Training Design (3 Levers)

Do trainees say?
“The contents are practical and relevant to me!”
“I have already experienced, practiced and tried it during the training!”
“I know what I’m going to do, step by step, after the training!”

Organisation (5 Levers)

Do trainees say?
“It’s possible for me to apply what I’ve learned to situations in my day-to-day work!”
“My working day allows me to take time to apply what I learned!”
“My supervisor demands and encourages implementation of what I learned!”
“My colleagues are supporting me on implementing what I have learned!”
“People in my organisation notice when I (don’t) apply what I’ve learned!”

If any of these statements are missing you're probably not getting the anticipated value out of a training programme.

Can you play it for me? 

My first teaching experience was as a Music Teacher. Since 2008 I've taught NLP. So, the first two elements are baked into how we approach teaching these topics. If the student cannot perform the piece of music after the training then we have not yet succeeded. The third element often presents the biggest challenge when it comes to organisational learning & development. So, I've enrolled a client to help me define and develop these levers from their perspective. 

Saying 'No' to say 'Yes'

It might surprise you to learn that I frequently say "No" to training requests because these three elements are not in place or because training is not the solution to the problem that has been described to me. Many people in my profession will identify with this - we want to make a tangible difference

So, whether you work in learning and development, are evaluating whether to go on a specific training course in the near future or you're a manager sending your team on training, you might want to reflect on these 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness. 

Then ask yourself whether the training will actually make the difference you are seeking.


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You know there's no official training for trash collectors?
They just pick things up as they go along

- Soldier!
- Yes, Sir?
- I didn’t see you at camouflage training today!
- Thank you, Sir!

A policeman was testing 3 guys who were training to become detectives. To test their skills in recognising a suspect, he shows the first guys a picture for 5 seconds and then hides it. "This is your suspect, how would you recognise him?"

The first guy answers, "That's easy, we'll catch him fast because he only has one eye!"

The policeman says, "Well...uh...that's because the picture I showed is his side profile."

Slightly flustered by this ridiculous response, he flashes the picture for 5 seconds at the second guy and asks him, "This is your suspect, how would you recognise him?"

The second guy smiles flips his hair and says, "Ha! He'd be too easy to catch because he only has one ear!"

The policeman angrily responds, "What's the matter with you two?!!? Of course, only one eye and one ear are showing because it's a picture of his side profile! Is that the best answer you can come up with?"

Extremely frustrated at this point, he shows the picture to the third guy and in a very testy voice asks, "This is your suspect, how would you recognise him?

He quickly adds, "Think hard before giving me a stupid answer."

The third guy looks at the picture intently for a moment and says, "The suspect wears contact lenses."

The policeman is surprised and speechless because he really doesn't know himself if the suspect wears contacts or not.

"Well, that's an interesting answer. Wait here for a few minutes while I check his file and I'll get back to you on that."

He leaves the room and goes to his office, checks the suspect's file on his computer and comes back with a beaming smile on his face.

"Wow! I can't believe it. It's TRUE! The suspect does, in fact, wear contact lenses. Good work! How were you able to make such an astute observation?"

"That's easy..." the third guy replied. "He can't wear regular glasses because he only has one eye and one ear."


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