Tip #490: How to Avoid an 85% Post-Training Loss of Learning

“The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.” B. F. Skinner

Research by Robert O. Brinkerhoff shows that only 15 percent of what is learned during training will be applied on the job if it is not reinforced and monitored.

So what does that mean for us as trainers and facilitators?

We need to actively involve our participants’ managers and supervisors in the training.

Ideally, they should be the individuals who originally identified the need for training, so they have a vested interest in the outcome. If that is the case, it would be helpful to have the participants create action plans during class that commit them to apply what they have learned.

There should be a place on the action plan for the employee’s supervisor to sign off as to having seen and discussed the action plan. Supervisors could be alerted to the need to review the action plans and then both reinforce and monitor the employee’s performance.

Another approach is for the supervisor to sit down with the employee and ask the employee to report on what was learned and what the plan is to apply what was learned. If a face-to-face meeting is impractical, the employee might be required to write a report along these lines.

At the very least, we should initiate communications with the supervisors regarding the learning goals and objectives, so that they understand the changed behavior we expect to see when the participants return to their workplaces.

We could give them a monitoring checklist to make it as easy as possible for the supervisors to observe and document performance.

We should also suggest to supervisors some strategies to reinforce learning.

Having the employee discuss the class or the action plan with the supervisor will provide some reinforcement.

In addition, since the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else, we could recommend that the employee teach what was learned to other employees who could not attend the training.

What else can we do to ensure that the necessary reinforcement and monitoring occurs when our participants are back on the job?

May your learning be sweet.


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