Making Learning Stick

By on July 1, 2009
Making Learning Stick

How to help learners apply their new knowledge on the job

How does your organization ensure that its training dollars are well spent? For one thing, you want to make sure that people are learning what they need to learn to help them do better on the job. It’s important that learning be applied to the job, and that it has direct benefits to the organization.

Furthermore, both learners and their managers have tasks that must be accomplished before, during, and after training. Susan Boyd, a consultant in the Philadelphia area, suggests 30 total steps (ten in each time period) for making training stick ( If thirty steps seems a bit much for a busy morning, try these six tips from our management/team development unit for making learning “stick.”

  1. Ask your trainer to set up an Executive Overview for senior management, and familiarize yourself with the primary goals and concepts of the training program. It’s vital that senior managers know what the goals of the program are, and how these goals will translate into more skillful workers.
  2. Managers should meet with learners prior to the program start, and communicate their expectations and encouragement, including how the learners’ daily work will be covered during the program sessions, and that they will be expected to take the training seriously.
  3. Managers should get copies of the program evaluations completed by learners. While the evaluations will likely be shown in aggregate, without identifying individuals, managers can comment on and discuss any of the open-ended comments with the learners.
  4. Managers should communicate with learners throughout the program, offering encouragement and using program lingo. They can ask the learners to review the concepts and methodologies learned in their sessions, and discuss possible ways these can be applied on the job.
  5. Managers should allow time for learners to collaborate with partners from their learning group, with whom they should communicate during the time between sessions, practicing methodologies and using learned concepts and lingo.
  6. The training staff should post documents from the training program on a special site on the company computer network. Managers should, from time to time, review some of the documents on the network to remain familiar with the concepts and tools used in the program.

The object of these tips is to ensure that learners know that senior management is on board with the training program, and that they care about applying the learning to “real life.” By discussing the training using the program’s concepts and language, managers demonstrate that their commitment to learning goes beyond lip service, and that they expect the learning to make a difference in how business gets done in the organization.

Want to know more about how to make training stick? We thought you’d never ask! Call or email Barry Schapiro, 314-539-5329.


About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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