Leveraging leaders to support, encourage and transfer training and learning to the job
A supportive transfer climate eliminates one of the great barriers to skills transfer from training back to the workplace. Once a training or learning program has been completed, employees return to the job, often motivated, encouraged and armed with new skills. However, as decades of research has shown, the unrelenting retention curve immediately kicks in and skill degeneration begins. Adult behavior is notoriously difficult to change unless leadership supports and reinforces the new skills. Without a strong and encouraging transfer climate to reinforce and support the training on the job, employees will quickly fall back into old, ingrained habits. That is where Javelin's ForeSTEP process kicks in to enable your leadership in transferring skills back to the job through daily support, feedback, encouragement, and, where necessary, constructive correction.
The first and most critical skill to develop in your leaders is their ability to accurately observe new behaviors aligned and misaligned to the training. In order to give accurate feedback, you must first ensure that your leaders’ observational skills are fair and accurate. If you can't accurately and objectively observe behavior, you can’t provide a good feedback to support the right behaviors.
Keep a brief written record of your observations. This will help tremendously so subsequent feedback is focused on what the person did or didn’t do. In this step you want to ensure you are documenting both what the employee is doing to support the training so you can reinforce and encourage as well as what they failed to do, which you will use to gently correct to create a learning opportunity.
Skills and competencies are built on behaviors. An employee is considered proficient on a skill or competency once they consistently demonstrate the collection of behaviors associated with that competency. In step 3 of the ForeSTEP process, the leader relates the observed behaviors from the prior steps back to the competencies your organization is building. Some behaviors reflect one competency and others reflect another competency. When you provide feedback to an employee that he or she is not fully proficient on a particular competency, behavior is your evidence. It is what anchors your feedback.
Managers often jump to feedback too soon. Feedback is the last step, after the behavioral data has been collected and classified. Classified behavioral observations are specific examples tied to the new skills and competencies your organization is developing. Using behavioral examples provides clear direction to the employee, avoids argument and passive aggressive behaviors where the employee politely listens and then dismisses the feedback, returning to old ways rather than using the new skills.