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8 Quotes to Get you over the Most Common Transfer of Learning Hurdles

3rd November 2014 | Emma Weber

Emma Weber, author of Turning Learning into Action, shares 8 quotes to get you thinking about the most common transfer of learning hurdles and how to overcome them.

Turning Learning into Action (9780749472221)I love a good quote. And so many quotes that I read these days can be equated to messages about learning transfer – and the steps to achieving it successfully. I can be equally inspired by great people from yesterday through to speakers, writers and songwriters from today. This week, I found myself looking up quotes to support the seven most common hurdles that can pop up when implementing learning transfer.

Anyone working in learning wants to get the best results from initiatives they run. We all want to ensure that when participants leave a workshop, that they take what they learn with them and put it into action in the real world of business. So why doesn’t it happen?

Well, as mentioned, there are some hurdles – the biggest of which is not knowing what the hurdles are. So, supported by the words of some famous – and not so famous – people, here’s some tips to help you avoid falling over on the road to successful learning transfer.

1. "Plans are of little importance; but planning is essential.” - Winston Churchill

Don’t plan for action planning, make it a priority. Most training plans have actioning planning in the program design, but time and time again this is skimmed over when the time comes. Dismissing action planning to make way for extra content is a sure fire way to remove any chance of successful learning transfer. Make action planning at the end of the training program an absolute. Non negotiable. And ensure it is given proper time.

2. "Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery." - J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Spend time on the why. Participants can be really cynical about something new, so they need to understand the importance of their action plan, by understanding what business results the organization is hoping to achieve post learning. For many, it’s not the personal goal that keeps us motivated, but the why behind the goal that matters and will keep us moving forward when the goal becomes difficult. Get participants to document the why, and to be really clear on this before starting the action plan.

3. "We all need to get the balance right between action and reflection." - HRH The Queen in the 2013 Christmas Message

Allow time for reflection. Queen's orders! Reflection is at the heart of effective transfer of learning – and not just during the program. It is just as important afterwards to make time for reflection during the day to day role. Whether it’s a cup of coffee with a notebook and pen reviewing successes and progress, or a reflective conversation with an accountability buddy, make sure reflection is scheduled.

4. "The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions." - President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Support the manager, don’t blame them. Often the manager is the default person responsible for ensuring the transfer of learning happens – but are they the right person, and can they really be blamed if they are not qualified for the role? Truly effective learning transfer occurs within very specific conditions, with participants being taken through a specific process with a learning transfer specialist. Whilst some managers may have the skills and time to do this, in most cases - and for many reasons - they will not be the best person. L&D managers need to ensure participants have access to the correct coaching support and that managers are helped to understand their role in the process.

5. "Nobody ever washes a rental car." - Origin unknown, but many a motivational speaker has used it! 

Create ownership for transfer of learning. If nobody owns it, no one will make sure it happens. Decide who is responsible for transfer of learning, scheduling coaching sessions and ensuring that the reflection and reviews occur. Again, the L&D managers should be driving this, but the person taking ownership needs to be someone qualified in learning transfer. Think creatively, how can L&D managers own this? Do you have a team of high potential or the opportunity to outsource?

6. "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

Don’t ignore learning transfer! It simply doesn’t happen on it’s own – attending a training course and learning the ‘tactics’ is not enough to win the battle. Learning transfer gives you a strategy within which to use the tactics you have learned and make a difference in the work place.

7. "Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise." - Frank Ocean, singer/songwriter

Share the stories and wins. Successful learning transfer means that changes in behaviour and positive business outcomes are achieved. These will take many guises, from tangible sales increases and improved customer service metrics, through to observed managerial improvements in the workplace. Evaluating these changes and sharing them is key to individual participants, managers and business stakeholders. Whilst the road to achieving individual change is a one-on-one process between a participant and their coach, the results are for the organization to learn from and celebrate.

And so I will leave you with this final quote for why effective learning transfer is so important…..

8. "Just as a pole vaulter uses a pole to catapult themselves over a horizontal bar, learning can propel an individual forward and upward." - Emma Weber, Author and Director and Founder of Lever Learning

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