This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

June 20, 2012

Maximizing Training using Science

Each year, employers worldwide spend billions of dollars training their employees, the bulk of which are spent in the United States (almost $135 Billion). Unfortunately, this expensive training often does not improve the workplace, since the learned skills are not applied to the actual job.

A new report, titled "The Science of Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters in Practice", is a survey of the vast technical literature on the science of training. In the report, the researchers concluded that when this money is well spent, "training and development activities allow organizations to adapt, compete, excel, innovate, produce, be safe, improve service and reach goals".

According to the report, human resource executives, chief learning officers, and business leaders should view training as a holistic system and not a one-time event. This perspective means that what happens before and after the actual training is just as important as the training itself.

The first step is to analyze jobs in the organization for the required skill sets. The goal is that supervisors and leaders are aligned and trainees are motivated to learn. During the training, participants should receive ample structure and guidance, while still giving them opportunities to make decisions about their learning experience. Most critical, after the training, participants should have sufficient time and opportunities to apply what they have learned on the job and receive valuable feedback.

The qualities that individuals bring to the learning environment are also important to consider, especially their learning agility*. Trainees who believe that they can affect training outcomes are more likely to persevere in their learning activities, even though they may encounter challenges. Those trainees who are oriented toward mastery or learning may perform better, when they can control how they explore and organize training material.

According to the survey, the way to make learning stick over time involves "repeating tasks within increasingly complicated contexts". Finally, "behavioral role modeling", watching someone else perform skills, also contributes to learning.

Enlightened companies will embrace this research and capitalize on this information to optimize their training and development dollars. Leading edge trainers will incorporate pre- and post-work to help reinforce the training and deliver greater value.

* Learning Agility is the ease with which an individual can acquire new information and skills.

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