It takes a village...6 strategies for learning transfer

learning transfer Aug 30, 2023
group of employees giving high-five

“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action” – Herbert Spencer.

When discussing learning iniatives, I am often asked about who should be held accountable for learning transfer in the workplace.

And whilst most of those asking the question are fully aware that investment in learning is crucial to innovation and growth, what many don’t seem to grasp is that sending someone on a training course and hoping they’ll come back with a new set of skills simply won’t be enough.

For learning to be truly effective, it has to be applied – and this requires the cooperation of everyone in the team; you’ve heard the term ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Well in business terms, the phrase means that it takes a team to make any company successful. It means that no one learns, grows, and achieves in a vacuum, and that coming together and working together is essential in today’s marketplace.

How can we help that to happen?

  1. Set clear expectations: Make it clear from the onset that the engagement is essential to the success of the learning initiative. Clearly outline the expected outcomes in terms of performance improvement or behaviour change and emphasise that active involvement is key to realising these outcomes.
  2. Ask the right questions: Questions are so important to prompt creative thinking and generate self-driven, motivated and resilient employees. Team members and managers should be using learning-based questions on a daily basis to support the learning which has taken place.
  3. Encourage personal goal setting: Empower learners to set their own learning goals so they take ownership of their development and have a personal stake in achieving those goals. Then ensure that these goals are aligned with the overall business objectives (and team/department goals).
  4. Facilitate application of learning: Provide opportunities for learners to apply – and teach others - what they have learned in a real or simulated work environment. This experience helps them understand the practical relevance of the training and the role they play in using their new knowledge or skills to improve performance.
  5. Encourage reflection: We know that learning happens every day, so give people the chance to reflect on this and record it in ways that suit them. Whether that’s through learning journals or online tools, encourage everyone to develop their own development pathway.
  6. Provide constructive feedback: Regular feedback is essential in ensuring that everyone is on the right track. Personalised feedback can help individuals understand their progress, identify areas for improvement, and realise the impact of their learning on their work.

By implementing these simple strategies, you can create a learning environment where everyone is an active participant, understands their roles, and takes ownership of their learning.  If we can achieve this, we're establishing a solid foundation for creating a learning culture - and the 'business-village' will be all the better for it. 

What are you thoughts on learning transfer? Whose responsibility is it? 


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