Increasing the Transfer of Team Training

The degree to which the new skills learned in training are used once back in the normal work environment, known as transfer of training, has long been an issue.  With the prevalence of teams in the modern workplace, it has recently been recognized that team transfer of training may work differently than individual transfer of training.  So how can organizations enhance the transfer process at the team level, thus potentially increasing their return on investment?

learn_iStock_000017123843XSmallSeveral factors must be assessed before training even begins.  The team’s perception of its own ability level to learn the skills being trained on should be high—otherwise, learning can be impeded.  The team’s history and experience should also be examined.  For instance, the trainer should find out what other training sessions have been like for the team and whether or not they were successful.  Low expectations regarding the upcoming training should be adjusted if possible or factored into the training session.

There are additional factors that can be done during the actual training session.  Before the training begins, the trainer should explicitly explain the roles of each member in the training session, as well as clarify expectations on what the training is meant to do.  As with individual level of training, the level of realism of the training environment should be high.  It’s also important in team training to allow intra-team feedback and self-correction mechanisms to occur—this helps increase the realism of the environment by letting team members interact with one another and helps them solve their own problems.

Finally, several factors after the training occurs should be considered.  Both the team leader and the team members should all be involved in “relapse prevention” by supporting the use of new skills from other members, and providing help when the new skills are not being used.  In this regard, it can be helpful to include the whole team and its leader in the training session.  It is also essential for HR practices to recognize the team as a team, rather than only individuals.  Thus, performance management and reward systems should include a team performance component.   Lastly, goals should be developed at the team level.

In order for organizations to get the most out of their team training, transfer of training is a crucial aspect to consider.  Organizations can increase team transfer of training by creating a supportive environment before, during and after the training occurs.

Source: Improving learning transfer in organizations. (2003). E. Helton & T. Baldwin (Eds.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 219-220.

Bio: Kerry Goyette is the owner and president of Aperio Business Consulting, a human capital consulting firm based out of Columbia, Missouri. Before Aperio, Kerry was a private practicing therapist for over 14 years. She is a certified forensic interviewer with advanced training as an expert witness by the American Prosecutors Research Institute.