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One Minute, One Question: How Well Does L&D Prepare Leaders to Support Staff Post-Training?
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
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Starting on Feb 16, 2016, we asked people to answer a One Minute, One Question Survey about preparing leaders to support staff skills after learning solutions. Learning sciences research clearly shows that the actions of supervisors and other leaders post-training is critical to the transfer of learning on the job. 

The Science of Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters in Practice, by Eduardo Salas and his co-authors, provides a checklist of evidence-based steps to take post-training to improve training outcomes. These steps require supervisor, manager, and other leader assistance, but they start with the efforts of L&D. This includes such actions as (adapted from the article): 

  • debrief what was learned in training 
  • reinforce trained skills on-the-job 
  • reflect on how what was learned relates to work tasks 
  • help staff retain what they learned in training 
  • uncover challenges and plan how to address them. 

To dig into this issue a little deeper, we wanted to consider what L&D can do to help leaders complete these actions. Let’s take a look at what the 159 people who responded to the one-question survey have to say (see Figure 1). 

(Figure 1. Answers to February One Minute, One Question Survey) 

The Numbers 

Unfortunately, nearly one-third of respondents reported that the L&D function is not holding up its end of the bargain. In fact, “We do a poor job of preparing supervisors and leaders to support staff skills” garnered the most responses, at 31.45 percent. Now add this dismal figure to the one-fifth (21.38 percent) of those who said “We don’t prepare supervisors and leaders to support staff skills.” Combined, that’s more than half of respondents (52.83 percent) failing to help supervisors and leaders support their staff post-training. 

Not. Good. News. 

Fortunately, only a few respondents (3.77 percent) answered that they don’t think that preparing supervisors and leaders to support staff skills is part of L&D’s role (darkest blue). Both the research (and I, personally) strongly disagree with this sentiment. 

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The Comments 

Now, let’s discuss some of the comments, which were very interesting. A number of people said that they were just starting to realize that the L&D function needs to prepare supervisors and leaders to support staff skills back on the job. They felt they were in a transitionary period between not doing it (or doing it poorly) and doing it better. 

According to one respondent, “We don't now. As a result of this question, we will look into this. Thanks for the prompt!” Another person wrote, “I believe we do an okay job, but we need to do better. We are working on this specifically, but aren't "there" quite yet.” 

Others felt there was little follow-up after training, and they realized that with little follow-up there is less potential for optimal outcomes. One person said, “We prepare supervisors, but leaders don’t hold anyone accountable.” 

Here’s the good news: Based on the comments, it appears that the need for supervisor and leadership support in on the minds of respondents. 

All this begs the question: Does this reflect the reality of the L&D world? You tell me. With a relatively small sample, it’s hard to know for certain, but I’d love your analysis. We’d love your comments about how you are working on this issue in your organization and any successes you have had. 

Stay tuned! 

Please participate in our next One Minute One Question survey and look for the results next month!

 

 

About the Author
Patti Shank, PhD, CPT, is a learning designer and analyst at Learning Peaks, an internationally recognized consulting firm that provides learning and performance consulting. She is an often-requested speaker at training and instructional technology conferences, is quoted frequently in training publications, and is the co-author of Making Sense of Online Learning, editor of The Online Learning Idea Book, co-editor of The E-Learning Handbook, and co-author of Essential Articulate Studio ’09.

Patti was the research director for the eLearning Guild, an award-winning contributing editor for Online Learning Magazine, and her articles are found in eLearning Guild publications, Adobe’s Resource Center, Magna Publication’s Online Classroom, and elsewhere.

Patti completed her PhD at the University of Colorado, Denver, and her interests include interaction design, tools and technologies for interaction, the pragmatics of real world instructional design, and instructional authoring. Her research on new online learners won an EDMEDIA (2002) best research paper award. She is passionate and outspoken about the results needed from instructional design and instruction and engaged in improving instructional design practices and instructional outcomes.
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