How To Create Accountability That Drives Transfer of Learning

Emma Weber

 To quote Gordon Tredgold, “You can’t delegate accountability”.

Accountability is a hot topic.  I can’t turn a corner without hearing the A word at the moment. “I need my team to be more accountable”. “We’re being asked to focus on accountability”.

It’s not surprising that trends from a 2014/2015 DDI survey into the top barriers to learning suggest accountability and relevance are top factors getting in the way of effective formal learning and on the job learning.

Of course, accountability is a key component in creating sustained behavioural change post learning and accordingly, successful transfer of learning.

With no relevant accountability in place, learning flounders. Successful learning is not just about good content and well-executed programs but about finding ways to facilitate genuine behavioural change and accountability in the workplace, creating tangible business impact.

While initiatives may be designed for change, unless individual reflection, ownership and accountability (and NOT through ticking the box) are included over a period of weeks these initiatives fail. The initiative may be implemented successfully, but what is true success? Is success the behavioural change that is delivered or still merely attendance and/or participation?

To create sustained change, I propose a robust and a truly holistic transfer of learning approach; driven by a series of specific and accountable one-on-one conversations that occur at various intervals after the training event, supplemented by a measurement methodology.

My preference for learning transfer is to help the individual hold themselves accountable to things that they want or need to do. The want or the need is often a gap in performance or outcome but to hold them accountable you need to not only then to be able to identify the gap but to take ownership of the gap. Without a gap, or without ownership the accountability often falls flat.

I saw Gretchen Rubin speaking at the CLO Symposium in Florida, USA earlier this year. She is a leading expert in the area of Habits, author of Better than Before, and host of the Happier podcast.

She states that accountability is one of the pillars of creating or changing habitual behaviours; “You do better when you know someone’s watching – even if you’re the one doing the watching”.

Training will increasingly become less about the learning and more about change. Transfer of learning solutions should allow people to identify what needs changing and help them hold themselves accountable to follow through on those changes and get business results.

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.