ATD Blog

Want to Improve Your Batting Average? Don’t Leave Transfer to Chance

Thursday, December 3, 2015

This is the fourth installment in our series on improving your training “batting average.” In baseball, a player’s batting average is the number of base hits per times at bat. The higher your batting average, the more valuable you are. In learning and development, your batting average is how often you improve performance per training initiative. The higher your batting average, the more valuable you are.

So far, we have discussed the importance of making sure that training is the right solution, clearly defining the business objectives, and limiting the amount of content. In this installment, we’ll explore the importance of ensuring learning transfer.

Action Is Required

Training—and even learning itself—does not create value. Value is created only when new skills and knowledge are transferred and applied to the work of the individual and organization. Don and Jim Kirkpatrick put it this way: “If the trainees do not apply what they learned, the program has been a failure even if learning has taken place.”

In other words, training’s batting average (success rate) depends on the amount that people learn and the amount that they apply. 


The results of training are the product of the amount that people learn times the amount that they apply. Maximizing success requires maximizing both learning and transfer.


An easy way to remember the relationship is the formula learning x transfer = results. That means that even if the learning is a “10 out of 10,” but the transfer is zero, the results for the business are zero. To maximize learning’s value, we need to optimize not only the instruction, but also its transfer.

Partnership Is Required

Historically, learning organizations focused their efforts exclusively on the learning experience, reasoning that it’s the only thing they directly control. Unfortunately, an exclusive focus on learning has hurt, rather than helped, us. Failing to plan and influence what happens after the training program is like a baseball player hitting the ball and just standing there. Scoring a base hit requires connecting with the ball and running as hard as you can. Scoring a hit with training means connecting with the business needs, delivering a great learning experience, and making sure learners run with it.

The challenge is, of course, that we do not control the post-training environment. That is the province of management. So we must partner with management to maximize the probability of learning transfer. It is in everyone’s interest—the business, the learners, and us—to do so.

Improving the Transfer Climate


Rouiller and Goldstein defined the transfer climate as “the practices and procedures used in an organization that connote or signal to people what is important.” In other words, what does my work environment communicate to me about the importance of transferring and applying what I learned?

  • Does my manager expect me to use it? 
  • Did she even mention the training before I went? 
  • Did my manager ask me about it afterward? 
  • Does the performance management system align with what I was taught? 
  • Is there any recognition or reward for using what I learned? 
  • Are there any repercussions for not using it, or does no one care one way or the other?

We explore these and other elements of the transfer climate in ATD’s Learning Transfer Certificate Program. At a minimum, learning professionals need to educate managers about the impact they have on whether training creates value for their department. We need to provide them with short, simple, effective things they can do to maximize training’s impact.

Bottom Line

The work environment (transfer climate) to which learners return after training makes or breaks the success of any training program. If we want to improve our batting average for delivering training that adds value, then we need to include the post-training environment in our planning and learn to influence it positively.

Want to Learn More?

Join us for the next Learning Transfer Certificate Program at TechKnowledge in Las Vegas, January 11-12, 2016.

Editor’s Note: Adapted from Pollock, R., A. Jefferson, and C. Wick. 2015. The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning. 3rd Edition. Alexandria, VA: ATD Press; Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

About the Author

Andy Jefferson, JD, is President and Chief Executive Officer for The 6Ds Company.  He is co-author of The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning and Getting Your Money’s Worth from Training and Development. Andy is a frequent and popular global presenter who excels in helping companies maximize the value they realize from their investments in learning and development. He is an accomplished executive with deep line-management expertise as well as experience in strategic planning, sales and marketing, productivity, and technology development. Andy views learning as a critical source of competitive advantage in an increasingly knowledge-based economy. He knows the challenges of running a company and making every investment count. Prior to joining The 6Ds Company, Andy served as the Chief Executive Officer of The Fort Hill Company, CEO of Vital Home Services, and Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of AmeriStar Technologies, Inc. Andy is a graduate of the University of Delaware and graduated Phi Kappa Phi with honors from the Widener University School of Law, where he served on the school’s Board of Overseers.

About the Author

Roy V. H. Pollock, DVM, PhD, is Chief Learning Officer of The 6Ds Company and co-author of The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning and Getting Your Money’s Worth from Training and Development. Roy has a passion for helping individuals and teams succeed. He is a popular speaker and frequent consultant on improving the value created by training and development.

Roy has a unique blend of experience in both business and education. He has served as Chief Learning Officer for the Fort Hill Company; Vice President, Global Strategic Product Development for SmithKline Beecham Animal Health; Vice President, Companion Animal Division for Pfizer; and Assistant Dean for Curriculum at Cornell’s Veterinary College.

Roy received his BA from Williams College cum laude and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and PhD degrees from Cornell University. He studied medical education at the University of Illinois Center for Educational Development. Roy served as a member of the faculty at Cornell for eight years, where he received numerous awards including the Ralston-Purina Research Award and Veterinarian of the Year.  He is a Fellow of the Kellogg Foundation National Leadership Program.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.