I think it’s at the heart of why Managers are so ineffective in Learning transfer. (Aside from the fact of course that in many cases they haven’t been given the correct tools to implement learning transfer.) For managers and participants alike it’s just all too easy to to tick the box of the conversation, or the action plan and say it’s done when very limited value has been added.
My team and I have numerous strategies to overcome the participant that just wants to tick the box and be done with it. Let’s think for a moment why they just want to tick the box.
Sometimes the Action Plan is complete – if the action plan was completed in 10 days flat then really how much did the learning challenge or stretch them? Did it really have as big an impact as possible?
Sometimes they don’t want to get started with the action plan at all, with the participant writing down what the manager or organisation wants to see on the Action Plan – they don’t won it and they have no engagement with it.
Sometimes they just want to be the good participant and have done it all anyway – again is this stretching? Is this supporting them truly?
But back to the manager – what might ticking the box look like in this context? Well – the first ticking the box is ticking the box for having a quick conversation, reviewing it and knowing that it’s ‘looked at’. In truth the value of this is really limited – even though it’s a move on from not even having the conversation! It doesn’t address a real issue,it doesn’t add value and learning transfer activities then become classed in the low value activity box. This is the danger zone I think we are in with Learning transfer at the moment. HR are pushing the conversations happening with managers pre and post events but unless they really add value the concept will never gain traction.
The next ticking the box is ‘yes, yes it’s going really well – I’ve done x,y,q and it’s working’ Fabulous, fantastic, celebrate! Is that adding value? Celebrate big time and then stretch further – stretch into an opportunity – growth post learning is what it’s all about and the employee will feel even more fabulous when they have addresses some really meaty challenges and behaviors.
‘Yes, yes it’s all fine I just need to do more of a,b,c and then it will all be done.’ How useful would that conversation be with your manager after training – where’s the accountability? Where’s your feet being held to the fire. The box is ticked for Learning Transfer being done – now you can move on.
What’s the antidote to the ticking the box tragedy? Be absolutely ferocious about finding the gap at every learning transfer conversation!
What’s difficult about this? What’s the trickiest part of the action plan? What would make this conversation about your learning a really good use of your time today? If you wanted to make this valuable what would you want to talk away from today with?
Don’t give up until the gap is identified, the gap is owned and you have a plan and an accountability structure for moving forward.
…. and that will create learning transfer magic guaranteed.
Enjoy your conversations!