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Reinforcing Your Employee Training – Are You SURE Your Training Program Is Effective?

Reinforcing Your Training

Training is a process, not an event.

For training to be effective, the employee has to apply what is learned on the job—otherwise, all of the time, money, and effort spent on the training is wasted. That means training doesn't end when trainees leave the session. Unfortunately, too many trainers and managers forget an essential step—following up to ensure transfer of training.

Some effective mechanisms to reinforce the training message after the training is conducted include:

Provide training handouts. One of the best ways to follow up on training and help ensure transfer of skills and knowledge to the job is to give trainees handouts that summarize key information from the training session. For example, you can use memory and job aids such as checklists and worksheets that employees can take back to their workstations and use to implement training points. When developing handouts, remember to:

  • Identify the purpose of the handout.
  • Explain when and how it is to be used.
  • Make it easy to read.
  • Highlight key information in bold type.
  • Keep it short—1 or 2 pages is usually enough.
  • Use diagrams or pictures, if possible, to illustrate and reinforce written information.

Capitalize on coaching. An effective way to follow up and make sure learning gets back to the job is to coach employees as they incorporate new knowledge and skills into their work.

  • Observe trainees at work after the training session.
  • Correct inappropriate behavior. Describe what you observed, point out the expected behavior, and note what needs improvement. Demonstrate the correct method or steps. Then have the employee perform the task correctly in front of you.
  • Reinforce expected behavior. When you observe employees using skills and information from training, praise them for their behavior. Take advantage of routine supervisory meetings to reinforce expected behaviors and proper use of training on the job.

Pop in a post-training review. At your next group meeting following a training session, take a few minutes to review prior training:

  • Ask employees to review key concepts learned in training.
  • Talk about how newly acquired skills and knowledge are improving as they are being used on the job.
  • Discuss any problems in transferring skills and knowledge from the training session to the job.

Reinforce your training messages via your workplace communication channels.  Use your workplace employee newsletter, safety newsletter, intranet, or posters to reinforce key training concepts.  You can provide continual tips, fun tests, and other means for your employees to apply and refine what they’ve learned.

A close call is a call to action. Mistakes, safety “near misses,” and other workplace faux pas can, and should, be used as a real time training opportunity. What you do about these warnings can make the difference between future mistakes and possible litigation, serious accidents, and other severe consequences. If you seize the moment and use a close call as a training opportunity, you could very well prevent a far more severe problem.

Set a good example. Walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Never doubt that your employees are watching their leaders and patterning their behavior in part on what they see. Make sure managers and supervisors always follow expected rules.

Why It Matters...

It has been estimated that:

  • Less than half the skills and information learned in training will be transferred to the job immediately after the training session unless trainers follow up on trainee performance.
  • Within 6 months, as much as three-quarters of training can be lost without follow-up.
  • After 1 year, some employees will retain as little as 10 percent to 15 percent of what they learn in training unless learning has been reinforced.
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