Intervening to Improve Learning Transfer Systems - Training and Development

MaryBroad (Broad and Newstrom 1992; Broad in press) has been a leader in translating transfer research into actionable strategies. She recognized that most of the transfer research was not action-oriented.She and her colleagues have devoted themselves to developing strategies to improve learning transfer systems (Broad and Newstrom 1992). Most recently, she developed a transfer system improvement process that guides practitioners through critical steps to improve transfer. (Broad in press). Figure below shows the complete process. They make the case that learning professionals must become learning transfer managers to ensure that the emphasis on transfer is shared and implemented by all stakeholders. Learning transfer (LT) managers must help all stakeholders learn the six factors supporting learning transfer.LT managers must include, as part of their management responsibilities, the education of stakeholders (managers, performers, coworkers, others) about the factors affecting performance and the oversight and tracking of those stakeholders' transfer strategies (Broad, M.L., in press). Broad suggests that learning transfer managers are responsible for managing the steps in the process shown in Figure below.


A model for managing the organizational learning/transfer system.

Although the process often cannot be applied exactly as shown, it provides a nice framework to plan learning transfer with stakeholders and a checklist to see that "messier"processes cover all the necessary steps. Each of the steps is described below(from Broad in press).

TheLT manager needs three main areas of expertise:

  • Detailed information on the industry and the organization, including:
    Major lines of business
    Market share and competition
    Regulatory/legislative climate
    Industry issues and trends
  • Human Performance Technology (HPT) skills, with emphasis on performance and transfer concepts and best practices:
    Performance analysis, to identify current performance and compare it to desired performance
    Gap and cause analysis, to analyze the gap between current and desired performance and to identify root causes for the gap
    Intervention selection and design, to identify and design appropriate learning interventions to close the gap
    Transfer concepts and stakeholder roles, to identify effective transfer strategies by stakeholders
  • Consulting and partnering skills:
    Identifying and gaining clients
    Consultation process

Stakeholder scan help identify which factors affecting performance may be present or missing, including learning. Strategically important learning requirements (and other interventions) are then discussed with potential clients (step 2b).

The LT manager meets with a client who has a real stake in the strategic learning requirement. When learning is required, the LT manager emphasizes to the client that cohesive support by all major stakeholders is essential to ensure learning, transfer of new skills to job performance, and desired organizational results. This discussion should include:

  • Performance and related learning requirements with strong strategic value
  • Transfer process and key stakeholders
  • Organizational transfer climate
  • Necessary resources to support a learning/transfer project
  • Measures of successful performance after learning, and baseline performance data before learning

The LT manager and client identify major stakeholders concerned about strategic goals and performance required to achieve them, including:

  • Executives, managers, and performers' supervisors
  • Performance consultants and other learning professionals (including the LT manager)
  • Performers who are potential learners
  • Subject matter experts (SMEs) and performers' coworkers
  • Internal or external suppliers and customers
  • Other interested parties (e.g., union representatives, quality control specialists)

The client and LT manager meet with all major stakeholders to discuss the importance of transfer in accomplishing strategic goals, including:

  • Strategic importance of performance and learning requirements
  • The transfer system and stakeholders' roles
  • Gaps between desired and actual performance
  • Causes and solutions to fill gaps
  • Success indicators and evaluation metrics

These discussions provide information for step 4b.

The LT manager and client explore the organizational context for the desired performance. This includes all of the sixteen factors discussed above. The questions presented are ideal for leading these discussions. All analytical information is shared among LT manager, client, and stakeholders to gain agreement on the intervention and necessary transfer support. (This information is also useful in step 4a.)

Based on the previous steps, the LT manager develops the learning design:

  • Desired performance outcomes and learners' methods for achievement
  • Real work incorporated into learning exercises and practice
  • Learning activities integrated into the workplace
  • Learners managing their learning

The LT manager and learner representatives identify useful learning transfer strategies before, during, and after learning activities. Strategies include:

  • Personal techniques such as self-management and relapse prevention
  • Team techniques, including:
    Before:assessments of team aptitude, orientation to transfer, efficacy in transfer
    During:advance organizers, team skills training, feedback on training performance
    After:performance appraisals, support from peers and organization, rewards, relapse prevention

The LT manager helps each stakeholder identify strategies to support learning transfer before, during, and after learning activities. These are integrated with the learning design (5a) and other support for learners (5b), and give learners resources, opportunities for application, incentives, and rewards. The strategies chosen:

  • Are comprehensive and integrated
  • Occur before, during, and after learning activities
  • Are observable and measurable

Broadand Newstrom (1992) is an excellent compilation of a wide variety of very specific and practical strategies that can be used before, during, and after learning with trainers, trainees, and managers in this step.

The LT manager begins delivery of learning activities and implements the evaluation process.

  • Training delivery is integrated with the transfer system (6b) including before/during/after stakeholder strategies.
  • Evaluation data are gathered and a report prepared for all stakeholders,including descriptions of all transfer strategies and assessments of their effectiveness.

The LT manager and stakeholders implement all planned transfer strategies (before,during, and after learning activities) and monitor their effectiveness.

  • Stakeholders are accountable for the completion of all planned transfer strategies.
  • The LT manager prepares a report on the use and effectiveness of transfer strategies that is included in the evaluation report (6a).

The final report, with evaluation data, becomes an effective "marketing tool" to demonstrate the effectiveness of collaborative stakeholder strategies to support transfer.

Completion of steps 6a and 6b can be considered the end of the learning transfer project. However, in an actual complex organizational system, improved performance in one area usually leads to requests for improved performance— and transfer support—in other areas.

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