Support Transfer – Or Why Bother?

The secret IMO, was taught to me from the very beginning of my career (1979): focus on the authentic Outputs & Tasks required back on the job, and provide the minimal K&S necessary for initial performance expectations. And then layer in authentic complexity.

And Support Transfer.

Back in 1979, we supported Transfer Back to the Job by addressing the real/authentic Performance Requirements – based on Analysis out in the field in our Instructional Content – Job Aids and Training.

Well, actually, Job Aids embedded in Training.

And in the Training packages – with a 15-minute Video to address the Information and Demonstration of what we were addressing – we’d include guidance for the Wickes Lumber Store Managers and Assistant Managers to help ensure Transfer – by providing Practice Exercises materials, and assessment tools with feedback guidance for the Coach to use. That way the manager could see if Guy “got it” and would also be obliquely trained themselves on how to monitor Guy’s performance post-training.

A decade later, as an ISD consultant, I had just a few clients who always insisted that any Training we developed on their behalf – was to always include support for the Supervisor.

That support was, of course, to better ensure Transfer.

Sneaky Trick #9 was to also let the Participant know that their Supervisor had such support and to let the Supervisor know that the Participant knew, to set expectations across the two parties, to encourage the Supervisor to render that support.

Another Sneaky Trick (perhaps it was #11) that I employed in consulting engagements with my Project Steering Teams was to bring up “my worries” (on their behalf) about Transfer until my worries became the Project Steering Team’s worries.

Of course, when you don’t have a Project Steering Team, there are fewer people to pass your “Worries” on to. And that could hurt transfer.

Questions posed such as “What will stop the lessons learned from transferring back to the job?” and “If this is somewhat tricky to do back on the job, post-Training, what could we do to stop people from immediately reverting back to their old behaviors?”

Neil Rackham – of SPIN Selling fame – taught me back in 1981 that just as in the case of golfers or tennis players learning the proper grip when taking professional lessons – that after the learner starts playing with the proper grip – that the ball won’t initially go where desired. And so the first reaction of the learner/Performer is typically to revert back to an improper grip that had previously worked for them.

It is up to the Coach to reinforce the correct behavior until the results become self-reinforcing. Which takes time, most of the time.

Transfer isn’t measured and deemed successful because it made it out there and was attempted once or twice.

Transfer is measured and deemed successful if what was learned transfers – and is sustained – in the learner/Performer’s Performance Repertoire.


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