Transfer of Training: A Case Study

Several weeks ago I had an opportunity to attend a day-long training session called Hiring Winners which was delivered by a facilitator from Washington Employers. And over the next month an amazing thing happened. I found that I was immediately using concepts and skills developed during this session. Following is a brief description of how this course seems to have hit upon the Holy Grail of training and development: actual skills transfer from the training room to every day practice.

The Situation

Working for a rapidly growing organization, our HR team offered the opportunity for hiring managers to spend a day focused on our recruiting and hiring skills. This presented two immediate benefits:

1)      general professional development on an immediate need, and

2)      development of a common, organization-wide experience and language when it comes to recruiting and hiring as we go forward

The Training

Every participant was given a manual as the day started and we spent the day working our way through the manual. The course design included lecture, small group activities, large group discussions and role plays.

The Transfer of the Training

Probably the most essential element of the session was a series of small group activities in which we were asked to develop a hiring plan and to develop behavior-based interview questions for an actual job for which we would soon be recruiting and hiring. The real-life nature of this activity and opportunity to leave the workshop with an actual plan that could be implemented right away led me to use these tools the following week.

A colleague of mine from India happened to be in town when this course was offered and brought some of her key learnings back to share with our co-workers in New Delhi. Immediately upon her return, she led a 60-minute session in the Delhi office to share highlights and to begin finding ways to transfer the lessons for our India-based context. The team then decided on and implemented several improvements to our ongoing hiring process in India. The team will have a longer session to discuss key concepts from this course after the new year.

Why this Course Stuck (when so many other courses and workshop manuals simply gather dust on someone’s desk or bookshelf)

There were several key factors that led to the immediate application and transfer of skills from our training room to our day-to-day routine.

1)      Supervisor Support. My supervisor also attended this session and asked our team to begin using these new skills. He also set the expectation that lessons learned would be shared with other team members – both in the US and in India – who were unable to attend this session.

2)      Immediacy. In espousing his theory on how adults learn best, Malcolm Knowles insisted that adult learners thrive when the education they receive can solve an immediate problem. As our organization (and more specifically, as my team) grows, we’re using hiring skills every day. This course allowed us an opportunity to re-visit our current process and make improvements in the moment during the actual training session. And with interviews already on my Outlook calendar, this was the perfect time to develop more effective interview questions.

3)      Facilitation and Course Design. The facilitator was prepared, had obviously given this presentation in the past, provided a smooth delivery, and offered plenty of time for small and large group discussions. She delivered a course that was designed to offer three things that were of immense value to us: new content, a forum for staff from across the entire organization to discuss issues and align on processes, and an opportunity to either revise or create new ways to recruit and hire top notch candidates.

Will our organization realize the return on the investment we were seeking when we brought Washington Employers in to facilitate this workshop? It’s too early to tell. But if an early indicator is whether or not people actually use the skills they learned in the training room, then we seem to be off to an unusually good start.

Know someone who could use some help designing learning experiences that will transfer from the training room into the real world? Pass this article along!

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