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ATD Blog

Transfer Success Is Manageable. But How?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Companies globally invest millions of dollars in training programs each year, yet during crisis situations corporate training is one of the first things leaders cut. But if everyone truly believes that training is necessary and a critical advantage for company success, would we actually do that?

The Biggest Secret of HR

It is sad but unsurprising that HR training programs so often fall victim to budget cuts. But of course they do, if they cannot be proved to be effective. And the truth is that effective training is very, very rare. More than 80 percent of training programs are ineffective. Most HR professionals are painfully aware of how many training programs aren’t truly effective.


Who is responsible when training doesn’t produce impact? It depends on who you ask! Everyone keeps pointing fingers at one another—the trainers blame the participants for not applying what they have learned, participants say that their boss didn’t enable the change, and leaders blame HR departments for sending their employees to irrelevant seminars. The recipe for chaos is ready.

An Ironic Situation

The situation is ironic. Everyone knows that a lot of corporate trainings are useless and don’t change anything—the participants, their supervisors, the HR department responsible of organizing it. Some even gossip about its uselessness and don’t expect real changes. Why do we all accept the situation, wasting money, time, and resources? And what can HR professionals do about it?

The Gist of Transfer Research

In her doctoral thesis, Ina Weinbauer-Heidel studied more than 120 years of transfer research and reviewed more than 400 articles. Based on her work, she named 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness, which are the gist of scientific research for HR practitioners. They show HR professionals what it takes to make training programs effective, scientifically sound, and practically tested. Every HR professional can use them in their daily work.

Making Trainings Effective Is Neither a Coincidence or a Miracle

Weinbauer-Heidel’s research shows that HR professionals already use a lot of transfer-supporting tools like pre- and post-training discussions with the supervisors or transferring projects or action plans, which can help to improve success. But those single measures are no guarantee for transfer. The secret is the right set and mixture of measures, with the 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness transfer being controlled. It’s not a miracle.

The levers give HR professionals a solid, relieving, and convincing structure to show other stakeholders—like the learner’s supervisors—the importance of their contribution. Training (in)effectiveness always is a shared responsibility. Making trainings effective is neither coincidence nor a miracle. It is possible and manageable.
Trainings can be successful and if they are they can be a game-changer to the company and for HR professionals. It is unbelievable to see how even little initiatives can boost transfer effectiveness when HR professionals know which levers they have to pull.


By knowing what it takes to design and implement training programs with a high-end measurable business impact, HR professionals strengthen their position as strategic business partners who are indispensable to their company’s success.

During our session at ATD 2019, "What Makes Training Really Work: 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness," we will explore how human resource managers, L&D managers, and trainers can develop customized transfer concepts for their next training program.

About the Author

Ina Weinbauer-Heidel has been dedicating her career to understanding and improving the interface between transfer research and transfer practice. In her roles as a scientist, author, university lecturer, and consultant, as well as head of the Institute for Transfer Effectiveness, she is passionate about making scientific findings applicable in practice.

About the Author

Masha Ibeschitz is chief transfer enabler at the Institute for Transfer Effectiveness. For the past 20 years, her roles as an author, management trainer, executive coach and reflection guide have granted her international recognition. Masha also is managing partner at a global firm, which specializes in executive development around the globe. In her role as member of the advisory board and mentor she supports start up companies in the field of innovation. She became in 2015 the first Kirkpatrick Certified Facilitator throughout all German speaking countries and is till this day, for such regions, holding the authority to certify others within the Kirkpatrick® Bronze education.

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