6 More Tips to Help Employees Apply Training on the Job

Use Training Session Activities to Help Trainees Transfer Training to Their Jobs

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Need more tips for activities to conduct during the training session that will help employees attending apply the new information on-the-job when they return to work? In an earlier article, I provided six tips for encouraging training transfer. Here are six more tips that will help you make your training sessions truly applicable to the employee's job.

  • Make use of session pre-work during the actual training session. Asking people if they read the article or thought about the concept is not enough. SFC Chris Mitchell, an instructor with the U.S. Army, who specializes in experiential learning and small group techniques, offers the following example of integrating pre-work in a training session.
    "The best pre-training exercise that we have used is to send out a list of focus questions. The only instructions provided were, 'Answer the questions as completely as possible and keep the answers private.' When the participants arrive at the workshop, have them meet in a central location with a chalkboard. On the chalkboard write a message saying, 'Feel free to discuss your questions and answers.'

    "After 20 minutes the trainer should enter and ask the group what they were discussing. Then you carry on from that point. We found out that if students were given a topic of discussion, presented from several viewpoints, and then allowed to pre-discuss the topic, the topic was better understood and better retained."
  • During the training session, practice active learning principles; honor a variety of learning styles. Recognize that a range of activities and information applications will appeal to participants’ varied learning styles. Use real life examples, analogies, case studies, small group discussion, presentation, and experiential exercises.

    Provide visual support materials such as films and transparencies for people who learn visually. Activities will appeal to your hands-on crowd. Ask participants to provide examples of the concept you are training from their experience.

    By keeping the training varied, exciting and stimulating, you help people retain the content. By appealing to the variety of learning styles in your group, you enhance participant learning.

    Examples and application exercises ensure people can connect new material to their current practice and what they already believe. This, in turn, ensures transfer and application on the job. Active Training by Mel Silberman is an excellent resource for additional ideas.
  • Increase trainee investment in the session by engaging them in tasks requiring action. Provide easy ways for participants to take notes; periodically ask participants to jot down application ideas. Ask them to share these ideas in a small group. Ask people to underline the most important concept on a page; circle the ideas that most apply to their circumstances.

    Request that participants identify how their supervisor can help them apply the training. Make action planning an ongoing activity during the session, instead of a too often time-crunched activity at the end of the session.
  • Provide reference materials and job aids for review after the session. Include participant input into the materials, making participants more likely to use the documents. Katie Norton, of Katie Norton Consulting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, suggests:
    “I have been conducting customer service training for a large, private medical practice and as follow-up to the training we have developed a Customer Service Manual. "This manual contains the suggestions, ideas, tips, and rules for each of the departments that came out of the training sessions. It will be part of the orientation for all new employees and will also be distributed to all existing employees once it is complete. We will also conduct annual (or more frequent if necessary) refresher courses for the staff."
  • During the session, discuss how to address real life scenarios, and barriers participants believe they will encounter when they apply the training. According to Dr. Allison Rossett, Professor of Educational Technology at San Diego State University, in "That Was a Great Class, But..." from Training and Development Magazine:
    “Too often, training professionals don't prepare participants for the real world in which they will attempt to use what they learned in class. Trainers should work on performance barriers in the domain they can control, their classrooms. They can share data from the needs assessment on unearthing barriers and offer ways to overcome them. Trainers can also discuss with participants their managers' or co-workers' possible objections. The participants can practice their responses.

    "In other words, trainers can inoculate participants against the thoughts, words, and deeds of resistance. They can share suggestions from participants who were able to transfer what they learned in training and who came up with successful approaches to get more computer resources, supervisory support, and so forth."
  • Assign or self-select a training partner. One of the more effective sessions I have attended supplied me with a training partner. The role of the training partner was well-defined and agreed upon by participants. We contacted each other for six months following the training program to compare notes and assist with application challenges. I developed an excellent professional colleague in the process.

    A list of program participants does not provide enough incentive; it generally languishes in the pocket of the materials binder on a shelf.

Whether you facilitate training sessions or select them for others, these six tips should help you present sessions that work. The content, from sessions that apply these ideas, is absorbed by participants and actually used to improve performance back on the job.

See six more training transfer tips.