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Paul Matthews

Founder

People Alchemy

Learning transfer at work:

how to ensure

training performance

Who is accountable for learning transfer?

Here's a tough question, and I will apologise

later. How much sustainable behaviour

change are you managing to achieve from the

training courses you deliver? If you are like

most people delivering training, the honest

answer is 'not that much' or perhaps more

honestly, 'I don't know'.

Now, maybe you as an L&D professional can

take home your salary knowing that most of

the training you do is a waste of time. Maybe

the people who asked for the training are

happy with that low level of impact. Maybe, like

some L&D people I speak with, you can 'bury

your head in the sand' or look the other way

and make nonsense noises while you plug

your ears with your fingers. Maybe you say

some nice words about learning transfer and

do a few things that might help, but really you

are just doing what you have always done. Or

maybe you are waking up to the reality that we

should, as 'professionals', be doing much

better than we are at producing business

impact from our training courses.

There are many in L&D who would cough and

splutter in indignation at that previous

paragraph. How did you react? Maybe you are

one of the very small minority of L&D

professionals who are doing a good job of

learning transfer and that last paragraph

genuinely does not apply to you, and if so, I

apologise, and I salute you. Or maybe you just

feel very uncomfortable when someone calls

out what should be obvious to all and says that

the emperor has no clothes. In the parable of

the emperor's clothes, he did come to his

senses and realise that he had been deceived.

He was living within an illusion where

everybody was pretending something was real

when even a child could see that it was not.

Somehow, so many people are living within

the illusion that training is working well, when

even a cursory examination shows that it is not

in most cases delivering on its promise.

If learning transfer is important and therefore

should be done, and it is possible to do, and

people are avoiding it, we end up in the murky

waters of responsibility and accountability.

Who is responsible for making it happen, and

who should be held accountable if it doesn't

happen? In other words, "when and where

does the buck stop?"

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