If you are a supervisor or manager you’ve probably had a time when you sent someone off to get trained they come back and they do their job but nothing seems to have changed in their performance. You may blame the employee, or the trainer, or the course, but what could you have done to support a change in the employee. After all, one of the responsibilities of a manager is to coach and train their employees.
When an employee is trained we expect a change. The change could be in knowledge, skills, or attitude, but it should be observable. To integrate new knowledge, skills or attitudes to a job the person must have knowledge, skills, or attitude; self-confidence; an opportunity to perform; and a supportive environment. During the training the employee should have learned the new knowledge, skills, or attitude, and the self-confidence to use them. The opportunity to perform and a supportive environment come from the supervisor or manager.
Training employees is expensive, but not training employees is more expensive. So what can be done to protect the investment you have made into your employee. There are actions that supervisors can take before, during, and after training to enhance the transfer of training to the workplace.
Before training you can talk to the trainers about the performance improvement you expect of the employee. In some cases, for instance safety training, it is advisable to attend the training; this way you will be able understand and correct safety deficiencies. Talk to your employees before the training about the goal of the training and what is expected of them when they return.
During training, do not contact your employees about work related matters. Do not call them away to perform job tasks, Make sure somebody is filling in for that employee or reduce the work load for the team. Training must be considered part of the employees job. Employees must understand the importance of training and know that their workload won’t pile up while they are attending training.
Interventions after training are the most important actions a supervisor can implement. Meet with your employees after the training, discuss the learning experience and set goals to improve performance. During the conversation ask if there is anything the you can do to help them improve performance. Look anything preventing employees from using their new skills; do they need equipment, software, changes in company procedures? Give employees opportunities to practice their training, give assignments that relate to their training. The phrase “use it or lose it” applies to training. Finally, recognize the employee when you see them put the training into practice.
1What Every Manager Should Know About Training, Robert F. Mager, The Center for Effective Performance, Inc., 1992
2 Enhance the Transfer of Training, Dennis E. Coates, ASTD Press