Got Training—Now What?

Tips to help learner retention.

By Allison Horak, Trainer and Employee Development Consultant, People Development Systems

As trainers, we regularly provide relevant training for workforces. Some of us (hopefully!) also have the opportunity to participate as a student in training ourselves, for personal development and resume building.

After completion of a training day (or a training program), what you and your clients may have experienced is the common “Now what?” syndrome: You’ve invested your time and money into training and feel like you learned some useful information, but struggle with how to go about incorporating this new knowledge or tool into your regular work routines and duties.

Here is a tip (inspired by “Transfer of Training” by M. Broad and J. Newstrom) to promote the application of your training:

Frequently review training materials. Research studies regarding our retention of information tell us that there is a significant drop-off in recall capabilities following initial input. In other words, it’s easy to forget what we’ve learned!

So, what can we do?

To combat this natural “memory loss,” establish a regular time for periodic review of your training materials.

As a trainer, you can incorporate these tips into your wrap-up at the end of every training session you offer. Think of it as a “freebie” to your clients.

As a student, implement these ideas yourself to help you retain the important information you’ve learned. An added benefit is that you will be able to personally recommend these strategies as ones that have worked for you.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Spend 30 minutes every two weeks reviewing your highlighted sections in the course materials.
  • Make a recurring entry on your electronic calendar to review your action plans from each training section at regular intervals. This will remind you of your intentions during training and renew your commitment to change.
  • Place any job aids you received out on your desk, not tucked away in a drawer or binder. (I prefer them on a ring, hanging from a tack on my bulletin board or cubicle wall.) Easy access to these valuable resources increases your likelihood of review and usage.
  • Take responsibility for diminishing the loss of training knowledge and skills by implementing a conscious intervention program.

These easy-to-implement suggestions can have a big payoff with minimal effort.

Allison Horak is a trainer and employee development consultant for People Development Systems, a California small business that helps management and HR to close gaps in employee performance through consulting, coaching, and customized on-site and online training. Horak also is a member of the California and Oregon State Bars. While working as in-house counsel for an Oregon corporation, she handled litigation matters, as well as training and educating corporate members on various legal issues. She also has been a self-employed attorney, managing various transactional, litigation, and probate matters for clients. Horak has a B.A. degree in Communication from University of California, San Diego, and attended law school at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR.

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