How To Improve Learning Transfer And Retention within your Team...

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by - Alan Caugant, CEO SUPERHUMAIN™

Before, During, And After Training

Do the participants in your training program effectively apply what they learn to their day-to-day activities? This may be the single most fundamental question every leaders should ask about current training efforts and programs. If you are spending valuable time and resources on your employee training, but learners do not apply (and even forget) what they learned during that training, then why continue wasting those resources? On the other hand, as a Leader, you want to prove that your efforts are actually improving the performance of your Team, and that they support your current business goals and objectives.

The ultimate goal of training should be to improve learning transfer and retention – to boost employee performance across your organization, and to drive better business results.

How we can make that Happen?

There’s a key element of neuroscience that can be leveraged to create training programs that fully engage learners and improve performance while simultaneously fitting within the reality of corporate restraints though. It’s called A.G.E.S.

A.G.E.S. stands for Attention, Generation, Emotions, and Spacing.

⦁ Attention

Focus is a critical factor for learning retention. Your program must be engaging, or it will fail. Engagement is essentially a matter of making the program active and therefore making the brain active during it as well.

Learning takes place when we activate the hippocampus. This occurs when we focus on one topic, without distractions. When we multi-task or let our minds wander, we’re likely to deactivate the hippocampus and reduce how much learning takes place.

• Generation
Your program must prompt learners to create their own mental links to the information as they go. They must generate unique, mental context for the knowledge to be embedded, to go from short-term memory to long-term. This is done by ensuring your program involves activating multiple senses. Not just listening or reading alone, but also giving the opportunity to learners to share what they have learned: “the best way to learn it is to teach it”.

• Emotion
Inciting emotion during the training also improves their retention of the material, whether positive or negative.

Emotions play a dual role in learning. First, they’ve been found to increase our intention to a given topic, which helps us focus. And second, emotions activate a brain region in the limbic system called the amygdala, which seems to alert the hippocampus that the material is important and worth encoding as memory.

However, if we are having too high level of arousal (chronic stress), it will slow down the function of the pre-frontal cortex (important for directing, sustaining our intention).

So, triggering the positive emotions of social rewards are good ways to inspire emotive responses to the training. There are many ways to do this, including gamification. Creating an emotional response is crucial to improve learning outcomes.

Spacing
Long-term retention is improved when we learn over spaced intervals vs. large information dumps. Memories improvement that includes sleep between learnings sessions is necessary for the consolidation of the information learned.

First, let me provide you a quick tutorial on the “forgetting curve.”

Emotions play a dual role in learning. First, they’ve been found to increase our intention to a given topic, which helps us focus. And second, emotions activate a brain region in the limbic system called the amygdala, which seems to alert the hippocampus that the material is important and worth encoding as memory.

However, if we are having too high level of arousal (chronic stress), it will slow down the function of the pre-frontal cortex (important for directing, sustaining our intention).

So, triggering the positive emotions of social rewards are good ways to inspire emotive responses to the training. There are many ways to do this, including gamification. Creating an emotional response is crucial to improve learning outcomes.

Spacing
Long-term retention is improved when we learn over spaced intervals vs. large information dumps. Memories improvement that includes sleep between learnings sessions is necessary for the consolidation of the information learned.

First, let me provide you a quick tutorial on the “forgetting curve.”

The picture simultaneously presents an apalling picture of the problem and presents the solutions–well timed reminders and reinforcement. What we take away is that unless we include a plan for consistent reminders and reinforcement, we might as well not even do the training.

The solution, first, for every training, make sure there is a reinforcement plan as part of the training. The good news is many of the technology platforms provide capabilities to provide timed reinforcement of certain web delivered programs. But, if your people aren’t using these, then they aren’t getting the reinforcement they need?

Additionally, make managers part of that reinforcement, particularly for very complex skills development. For every new training program, set an expectation of what reinforcement managers must do. Train them in how to do this reinforcement and hold them accountable for doing it.

The social learning is the most effective way to gives the best A.G.E.S through human interactions that improve our attention and create strong emotions. As well, the fact to put in practice with third parties will enhance our learning capacity

Most importantly, the forgetting curve applies to all learning, not just formal training classes. As a result, in your coaching, in trying to help people improve their skills, capabilities, and performance, you must constantly reinforce what you are doing. Improving a person’s prospecting skills, won’t come about through just one coaching session, but through continued coaching until they have mastered the skills required.

Let’s be careful in our management, managers try to “fix” everything at one time, coaching the person on prospecting, qualifying, deal management, pipeline management, account planning, and how to use CRM—the sales person ends up confused, the manager ends up frustrated, and nothing is achieved.

This put the onus on the manager to identify the 1-2 things most critical to coach and develop each person on, to focus viciously on those two things, reinforcing those through coaching, until they master them, then moving on to the next 1-2 things.