How to build an empire with Learning Transfer

Emma Weber

At it’s peak, the Roman Empire was the most extensive political and social structure in western civilization. The Roman Empire began when Augustus Caesar became the first emperor of Rome (31 BCE). Augustus’ reign initiated an era of relative peace that continued for more than two centuries. Augustus reformed the Roman tax system, developed road networks, established an army, created official police and fire response services for Rome, and rebuilt much of the city during his reign.

He was ruthless, clever, flexible and focused.

All of these attributes are important in learning transfer.

Learning transfer must be:

Ruthless: unafraidfacilitate hard conversations, hold people accountable to themselves.
Clever: Ask probing questions to get to the truth.
Flexible: find the balance between structure and flexibility, to support accountability
Focused: Use specific action plans to structure the transfer which can be reviewed in short, focused learning transfer sessions.

So why am I telling you this?

Because I want you to build an empire with your learning initiatives.

In the L&D industry we know that without learning transfer most training dollars are wasted. Study after study shows that, in most cases, learning approaches with no follow up transfer support are only around 10 to 20% effective. More often than not, employers are unsure how to hold people accountable to change after training.

Yet Bersin by Deloitte and CLO media both agree that impact from learning is key in 2016.

To create business impact and to be truly valuable you need to deliver behavioural change as a result of your learning initiatives.

How? Through a systematic approach back in the workplace.

Use a methodology that relies on reflection, holding people accountable to change with a real person there to challenge them in a ruthless, clever, flexible and focused way. Pick your battles. Choose which initiatives you will follow through and support with a robust learning transfer strategy. Not every learning initiative is the same.

Ask yourself –

What is the learning required?

Where are the skills, knowledge and behaviour gaps?

What do people need to know and do on a regular basis to create the outcomes you want?

What actions will people commit to?

How can you hold them accountable to change?

Do this and your organisation will be learning like heroes, known for their results and outcomes from learning.  You will create the empire of effective learning that you deserve.

P.S. Please note – I am not advising you resort to Roman-like violence to create change in your organisation!! 

Emma Weber

Emma Weber is a recognized authority on the transfer of learning. As CEO of Lever – Transfer of Learning, she has helped companies such as Telstra, Oracle and BMW deliver and measure tangible business results from learning. Emma has also been a guest speaker at learning effectiveness conferences worldwide and authored the hugely successful book Turning Learning into Action. Much more detail around the issues and solutions examined in this article are available in the book -please feel free to download a free chapter.