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CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

Sow ; Reap : Strategies for Converting


Knowing to Doing
September , • Bharath Gopalan • min read

The widely used : : model for learning and development holds that
percent of an individual’s learning comes from job-related experiences,

whereas formal training events contribute to only percent. Furthermore,

Dr. Brent Peterson’s research has found that percent of an organization’s

training budget is invested in training events, and only percent is allocated

to post-training activities.

Don’t these data point to something amiss? Are we working on an inverse

Pareto – putting percent into what yields percent and only percent in

what can produce percent? Even if we brush aside the figures, we


cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that our work in L&D is predominantly

occupied with formal training, and what we do at the workplace is mostly

limited to evaluating training effectiveness. The crucial piece for ensuring


ROI on training is the transfer of learning to workplace. Ideally, the following

two things should happen to make training effective:

. Actual workplace behavior should flow from classroom learning.

. Workplace learning should be insulated from non-productive influences.

Though formal training may contribute to only percent, it is where we sow

the seed for the right actions by imparting knowledge of doing the right

things correctly to achieve organizational goals. Converting the “knowing” in

the classroom to “doing” at workplace cannot be left to chance and must be

nurtured by carefully-crafted strategies.

Converting the “knowing” in the classroom to “doing” at


workplace cannot be left to chance and must be nurtured.
People learn, consciously or unconsciously, from myriad sources in and
around the workplace. These sources may or may not be the right ones;

they could even be counterproductive. It is too utopian to think that we can


insulate learning from such influences; nevertheless, we can mitigate the
undesirable effects by providing the right role models who can engage with

learners to give them the right inputs and impart the right values. For this
process to happen, we need to create a climate of learning and openness

through multiple channels of generative conversations like mentoring,


coaching, peer learning networks and common interest forums.

As L&D professionals, we need to invest more effort in aligning the

classroom with workplace performance and devise strategies for learning


transfer. Here are five surefire approaches.
. Small Chunks

The buzzword is “bite-size,” and rightly so, with dropping attention spans
and rising distraction levels. Roll out training in micro-modules, allowing

intermittent space for capturing insights and action commitments.

On-the-job methods like coaching and toolbox talks are approaches to


small-chunking training. On-the-job coaching (OJC) can translate tacit

islands of expertise within the organization into organizational talent. Given


some training on coaching skills, exemplary performers can turn into OJC

champions.

Short talks, similar to toolbox talks on the shop floor, can be another

effective tool for short-run training in all domains. To institutionalize this


method, identify tasks and develop concise one-point lessons, or single

pages on the task’s what, why and how, including tips and cautions. Have
team members rotate to deliver talks on a daily basis.

. Memorable Experiences

Recalling information during practice is key to better performance. For tasks


like remembering procedures, concepts and policies, acronyms can serve
as powerful mnemonics. You can create tools using memory pegs to help

employees remember critical aspects at work. For practicing new behaviors


and skills, memorable experiences are vital. There are many ways to create

memorable experiences, like jolts and action mazes.

. Application Opportunities
Providing challenging opportunities to learners immediately after the training
can shake them out of their comfort zone to try new behaviors. Though this

process may be the domain of line managers, L&D professionals should


create support systems and processes for voluntary projects, sharing

success stories, case clinics, job shadowing, role-play labs and other
initiatives for the workplace application of training.

. Reinforcement

There should be mechanisms for reinforcing classroom learning in the field


and for field learning to flow back to the classroom. Reviewing training

should be an agenda item in meetings so that learners can share their


challenges in applying their action commitments and seek help. Similarly,
when a team reviews a completed project, lessons learned should be

captured and incorporated into training.

. Testing Ground and Trust Groups

Providing a safe space for rehearsing new behaviors is essential for

learners to gain confidence. Create a testing ground by bringing together


learners with common interests and goals and engaging them in trust-

building activities. They can emerge into a powerful self-directed group,


which can support individual growth through generative dialogues and

constructive feedback.
# : : Model

#application

#memory

#reinforcement

#retention

Bharath Gopalan
Bharath Gopalan is a training designer and facilitator and has authored two
books: “Break Your Boundaries” and “Smart Presenter.”
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