Here are some helpful hints to assist you with your next employee training session. As a trainer, you know that the hard part is getting your learners to use what they learned when they get back to work. Here is my suggestion. At the end of the session, get your learners to form pairs. Start the exercise by reminding them that it may take some time before they start to implement their newly acquired skills when they get back on the job.
They may get distracted with other things, they could lose sight of details, deadlines may be piling up, they may not have the right tools, and so on. Ask them to remember an instance when they did successfully use their newly gained skills in the face of these kinds of obstacles.
The next step is to ask one employee in each pair to put to their partner these three questions:
1. After that training program you just recalled, what were the things that helped you utilize your new skills?
2. How do you think you could use those same strategies in this course you are on now?
3. How would your work and your work performance look if you implemented those strategies?
After the first person in the pair has shared their insights, ask the pair members to swap roles. Allow at least five minutes each per turn. If an employee has trouble recalling an instance of them beating constraints in the workplace, then suggest they recall a time when they witnessed other employees overcoming obstacles to application. This is a very powerful exercise as story telling taps deep into peoples’ psyche. It also draws on the efficacy of sharing learning in social groups.
A key ingredient of this exercise is the use of positive psychology. For those familiar with Appreciative Inquiry, you will be aware that I borrow some key practices from this approach. Many studies have shown that getting people to talk about what has worked well is a more powerful motivator of future behavior compared with dwelling on the negative.
The final part of this exercise is to get each pair to share the answers to the three questions with the rest of the class. If you are conducting several sessions as part of a larger training program, run this exercise at various stages throughout the program. Directly connect the exercise to the strategies participants can use to apply the skills they have learned up to that point.
Please note that this exercise does not acquit participants’ supervisors and workplace trainers from their duty to create a favorable working environment that encourages learning and the application of knowledge. Transferring learning to the workplace well relies on willing individuals and a positive workplace environment. You can’t have one without the other.
What strategies have you used in your training room to help your participants employ what they have learned back on the job? Have you used positive psychology as part of this strategy? How have your learners reacted? Please share you insights and experiences.