How to ensure that learning continues even after the course is over

The most important part of a training program is what happens afterwards, when participants are back on the job. Here are some ideas to help ensure that the learning continues after the course, and that it translates to improved job performance:

- Send managers a form to evaluate how well graduates are doing on the job based on a number of agreed-upon performance criteria.
- Provide on-the-job coaching after the training session. Previous graduates could be paired with new graduates as coaches.
- Put reinforcing tips and reminders on e-mail, or establish an intranet file to capture success stories and fresh application ideas.
- Send each graduate an audio tape filled with reminders and reinforcers. It could be in a 'concert review' format if desired.
- For a period of time following a major program, put short, reinforcing reminders in places where people can't help but notice them: outside elevators, on restroom mirrors, on cafeteria tables, on entrance and exit doors, next to wall clocks, in stairwells, in paycheck envelopes, on vending machines, above water fountains, along corridors as wall displays or mobiles, and on and on.
- Require graduates to provide overviews of the training program to their associates back on the job through planned mini training sessions.
- Through observations and interviews, determine which job aids and materials graduates use most in the workplace and which they do not. Eliminate, enhance, and add to these for future courses as appropriate.
- Periodically throughout a course, have past graduates give informal 5-minute presentations sharing how they have successfully applied what they have learned.

(May/June 1998 issue)