How to support practice and feedback after a learning event

When you’ve decided that, after a training event, participants need to get to a certain level of proficiency before they can go live with their new skills, it’s time to start thinking about how to support that process through practice and feedback. 

Why practice and feedback and not coaching or reminders or job aids

Well, most likely because your participants will need to demonstrate that they have reached an expected level of readiness to someone who has a vested interest in their performance. We know that reminders are good for reinforcing memories and that coaching can help with overcoming psychological barriers, but what reminders and coaching don’t do is to allow for people to hone skills before going live. 

The who, how and what of supported practice

Knowing that you need to get practice happening, the first questions you should ask are who is going to supervise the practice, and who is going to give feedback? The answer to both is almost always the participant’s manager. Why? We touched on this in a previous article, but it’s because the manager should have a clear understanding of what level the team member’s performance needs to be at before the skills are properly used. 

So, how do we at Practical Training Transfer support practice and feedback of learned skills? We focus on the manager and not the participant. That might seem a bit counter intuitive, but when we reflect on the following statements then the decision to support the manager becomes more obvious.

  • The manager didn’t attend the training and hasn’t learned the skills
  • Probably has a different way of doing things from what the training prescribed
  • Might not be experienced enough in managing a practice session and giving feedback

To reduce the risk of managers contradicting the course content, we supply them with everything they need to make the practice sessions and feedback a success. Through this we can confidently say that participants get the practice they need, and managers use their time as effectively as possible to make sure that their team members succeed in applying their new skills well. 

Where to turn first

Support is key so knowing which materials the manager will need is where you start your planning efforts. Think about job aids, schedules, practice directions, course content, and feedback tools, and you’ll get off to a good start. 

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