When deliberate practice and feedback works best for training

Let’s jump into the shoes of a learner for a minute and think about a common training scenario. You’ve taken your company’s generic course on presentation skills. It could be one of dozens of courses you’ll take in your current role. To ensure that you use your new presentation skills correctly, you are sent a series of email reminders about how to format slides, which font to use, where to stand when giving a presentation, etc. 

Why does some learning transfer miss the mark?

What results would you expect from such well-meaning activity from the learning division? We’re guessing, not that great. Why? Well, it’s because when you’ve learned a set of integrated skills, such as creating and delivering presentations, being reminded about what to do isn’t as effective as actually practicing what you learned and getting expert feedback. 

What if, instead of sending reminders, you and other graduates of the presentation skills course were given a follow-up call or some coaching hits? Sounds nice, but again coaching or follow-up calls wouldn’t be that effective for you in this case either because they are retrospective actions that don’t prepare people to actually do something. 

The only thing that works well in this case is to set up situations for you to practice your skills with other people who have a vested interest in your success. 

What are the conditions for choosing practice and feedback?

When you look at some but not all training courses, what you’ll see is a combination of a few simple truths. First, people attend because they need to get a complex skill set up to a certain level. Second, the skills being learned aren’t easy to take live immediately after training. Third, the training course beefs-up skills closely related to specific job KPIs. Lastly, someone, probably a manager, has direct impact on KPI performance levels. 

When you pack all of those truths together, it’s easy to see why practice and feedback with a manager is by far the most effective way to get skills working for the team member. At Practical Training Transfer we use those truths as a launch pad for deciding which training initiatives need deliberate practice and feedback and how to design those interventions so that the participant gets the most from training. 

Taking the first step

So, to make sure that learning transfer works well for training offerings that boost complex skills, think about creating situations where the learner can work with the manager after training to practice and get feedback before going live.

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