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April 17, 2006
Follow-up Training—The Crucial Link Between Learning and Job Success

All too often trainers heave a sigh of relief when the training session is over and trainees depart to go back to work. But the end of the training session doesn't signal the end of a trainer's job. In fact, this is when a crucial stage in the training process is just beginning. If you don't follow up to make sure trainees apply what they've learned when they go back to their jobs, you could be wasting all the time and money you just spent on training.

Takeout isn't just for fast food. Don't let trainees leave a session without a concrete reminder of training points. Make sure they go out the door with a take-away—a checklist, step-by-step instructions, some key points to remember, or something similar that they can take back to the job and refer to as needed. Handouts like these are especially helpful for new procedures or new steps in existing procedures.

Sure you've trained them, but did they learn anything? A few weeks after a training session, send trainees a note or e-mail, or give them a call. Ask questions like these about how they are applying what they learned in training:

  • How is what you learned affecting your work?
  • Are you having any problems or concerns in transferring what you learned in the training session to your job?
  • Do you have any additional comments or suggestions about the training experience?

Emphasize that your door is always open so that employees know they can talk to you at any point in the future about any issues that come up as they continue to transfer training to the job.

Everybody needs somebody to lean on. Sometimes you need to take an extra step in following up.

Why It Matters...
  • If employees don't transfer the skills and knowledge from training to their jobs, you're wasting precious training time and dollars.
  • Follow-up helps sort out any application problems so that you can avoid costly mistakes on the job.
  • It ensures that yours is a learning and growing organization, which is essential for dealing effectively and swiftly with change in a competitive global economy.

This is especially true when training content is particularly difficult or complicated, such as when it involves the application of new technology. In those cases, an effective follow-up might include assigning trainees to small support groups that meet regularly for a while after training. Support groups give members a sense of unity and security, as well as a source of assistance they can rely on when they run into problems. These groups can be informal and run by a coach—for example, a supervisor or a knowledgeable and experienced employee. Trainees can use the time to discuss common problems or concerns. They can talk about how they're doing in applying new skills. And they can give one another advice and encouragement, all of which helps to build that vital bridge between training and the job.

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