This month, Synermetric attended the annual Organisational Development Network
(ODN) Europe conference at the delightful Roffee Park. ODN Europe provides an excellent forum for leaders in the field to share their new insights and valuable wisdom, whilst practitioners can network, share their experiences and take part in wonderfully informative workshops.
This was too good an opportunity to miss, so Synermetric took the chance to connect with practitioners, listening to them about the key developments taking place within OD and HR, making sure we keep ourselves at the forefront of this ever evolving field.
However, we were also there to contribute, our own Dexter Davies Smith presented a poster to the community on the “Transfer of Training” and how coaches, consultants, trainers and just about anyone involved in bringing about behavioural change in others, can maximise this process. Let’s look at that now.
Why is this an issue?
More than ever in the history of mankind have organisations success been dependent on their employee’s knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA). As a result of this, in excess of £100 billion is annually spent on employee training and development1
- even during a recession! Whilst there is no doubt this training leads to an improvement, research last year provided two worrying statistics2
that should cause us to pause and reflect on whether we can improve this transfer process:
1) One year after training, managers’ report that employees make use of less than half (42%) of the KSA they are trained on.
2) Despite increased expenditure on training and 25 years of further research and experience, managers reported only a marginal increase in level of transfer in 2012 compared to in 1997.
The upshot of this is all of this is: Out of the £100 billion plus spent on training, at least half of that is going down the drain.
So what can we do about this? Well in a world full of advice based on “7 steps to being the next business guru” there is unfortunately no magic formula for training3,4
. What we can do is take a holistic overview of the factors that are going to influence this process
and do all we can to stake the odds in our favour.
This short introduction to the transfer of training process aims to shift our thinking from training being 1-2 day event to an on-going process of which its success isn’t just dependent on the training course, but what happens before and after the training to ensure we get the maximum results.
The employee - Cognitive Ability & Personality
Whilst difficult to alter during the training process, these factors are included for good reason; as organizations become dependent on the quality of their staff, personality aptitude assessments are becoming essential for ensuring the organisations’ recruitment processes select the candidates with the highest potential for that role being fulfilled.
For example; cognitive ability has consistently been shown to correlate with increased transfer of training5
, employees scoring high for consciousness from the five-factor personality model (scored as “Will” in the facet5 assessment
) are more likely to transfer training5
. Assessments such as facet5, aptitude tests & specific recruitment tools
will show managers how best to select & motivate that member of staff which leads us into…
Motivation & Self-Efficacy
In very crude terms, motivation is the driving force behind how much effort an employee will contribute to a task, and self-efficacy is their level of belief they are capable of completing such tasks.
The interesting and promising aspect to these two constructs is that they are the result of other factors and therefore open to manipulation by good practices, for example; companies that spent more time explaining why employees are going on particular courses and what benefits associated with the course in relation the employees role
, had more motivated employees that lead to higher rates of transfer6
. To increase self-efficacy, it is suggested that the staff are reminded of their past successes in training and the training is designed to incorporate early successes.6
It is important to remember these two constructs are not stable and whilst their influence begins at the pre-training stage they play a critical role throughout the training process. A successful training program will consider how to maximise motivation & self-efficacy before, during and after training. So how can this be done post training?
Arguably the most important part of training is what happens next, otherwise, what was the point! So much so, an entire essay could be written on just this, however fear not, this will be limited to a practical introduction:
Transfer climate is a term that is used in research papers that describes the extent that trainees perceive the post-training environment as supportive of the KSA taught in training7
. This will include aspects such as;
- manager support
- peer support
- opportunity and protected time to implement KSA
- resources to support and maintain training
Fulfilling these criteria are likely to increase and maintain motivation and self-efficacy, whilst providing practical opportunities for implementation. There has been promising results in recent studies incorporating goal-setting practices8,9
into the training process. Emergence of online performance & development management systems such as Momentor
allow employees to;
- Set objective goals
- Create and share a plan for behaviour implementation
- Track performance
- Incorporate feedback from manager
- Incorporate feedback from peers
- Access a supporting resource library
With a £100 billion leading to a sub 50% success rate, more than ever can people assessments & business solution tools provide the supporting structure needed to maximise a return on this investment.
- Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (53) New York: MaGraw-Hill Irwin.
- Saks, A. M. (2013). The learning transfer problem: barriers and solutions. Canadian Learning Journal, 17 (1), 10 – 14
- Blume, B. D., Ford, J. K., Baldwin, T. T., & Huang, J. L. (2010). Transfer of training: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Management, 36(4), 1065-1105.
- Colquitt, J. A., LePine, J. A., & Noe, R. A. (2000). Toward an integrative theory of training motivation: a meta-analytic path analysis of 20 years of research. Journal of applied psychology, 85(5), 678.
- Burke, L. A., & Hutchins, H. M. (2007). Training transfer: An integrative literature review. Human resource development review, 6(3), 263-296.
- Salas, E., Wilson, K. A., Priest, H. A., & Guthrie, J. W. (2006). Design, delivery, and evaluation of training systems. Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics, Third Edition, 472-512.
- Rouiller, J. Z., & Goldstein, I. L. (1993). The relationship between organizational transfer climate and positive transfer of training. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 4(4), 377-390.
- Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1990). A theory of goal setting & task performance. Prentice-Hall, Inc.
- Weisweiler, S., Nikitopoulos, A., Netzel, J., & Frey, D. (2013). Gaining insight to transfer of training through the lens of social psychology. Educational Research Review, 8, 14-27