How to make training really stick

How effective are your learning programmes? Use the "12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness" to make training really stick.

How to make training really stick
December 21, 2021
How to make training really stick

“How effective are my programmes? Are we making a difference? Are we really changing people’s behaviour in the long run?”

Every L&D manager has asked themselves these questions. And for Dr Ina Weinbauer-Heidel, they sparked a quest to seek out what she describes as the Holy Grail of transfer research – what it takes to make training really stick. The result is Ina’s 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness.

As CEO of Austria’s Institute of Transfer Effectiveness, Ina’s mission is to take scientific findings and apply them in practice. Ina and I share a passion for making sure training has an impact at work, so I’m delighted to say Ina also brings her experience and enthusiasm to us here at Stellar Labs as a member of our research advisory board.

With the worrying statistic that less than 20 per cent of training is actually applied back in the workplace, what are the 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness, and how can they help?

“There are three areas which are important to make transfer happen: trainees, training design and the organisation,” Ina explains. Each area contains a number of levers, a total of 12 small steps, to help maximise the effectiveness of any training course.

The beauty of the system is that none of the steps are difficult. “That’s the magic behind it,” says Ina. “Making it easy for L&D professionals and training facilitators to make transfer work.” It’s about focusing on what Ina describes as “the easy tools”.

Failing to secure support from managers has been one of the main stumbling blocks in getting learning to stick but the solutions can be as simple as asking learners:“The minute you are back in work, what do you plan to do?” Or addressing the organisation’s input by getting people to answer the questions “Who will help you with that?”

“Many of our L&D professionals asked us, ‘How can I bring the supervisors on board? I’ve tried it for years, but it doesn’t work’,” says Ina. “I think the secret is to introduce easy tools.”

All of which coalesces with the direction we’re taking at Stellar Labs. We’ve found that managers don’t necessarily know the right questions to ask, or when to ask them. So we’re building a platform that prompts managers to recognise the critical moments in the learning journey, and suggests some of these simple questions to ask. When they’re given these useful prompts at the right time, managers are better able to support their learners to apply what they’ve learned. We see it as providing ‘scaffolding’ for the learning process.

Our platform also includes features for learners and subject matter experts or trainers, as well as these elements for managers to play their part in the learning process. For many managers, traditionally that’s taken the form of feedback. But a lot of people don’t like feedback – neither giving nor receiving. Which is why at Stellar Labs, we have switched to ‘feed forward’.

Unlike feedback, which can feel confrontational with undertones of ‘you got something wrong’, feed forward is a much more positive, constructive approach. Rather than criticising someone’s past performance, we encourage people to focus on future development.

It’s just one more tweak to move towards effective learning transfer, and make sure training investments pay off.

“That will make the difference between a well-designed learning platform and just a content library. They are two completely different things,” says Ina. “Everyone who thinks about working with a learning platform needs to ask: ‘Does it have this idea of transfer in mind? Does it have the levers in place? Does it use all the stuff we know from the behavioural sciences?’

“I’d love to see many more L&D professionals out there share this passion for creating really effective learning,” Ina concludes. “It’s not rocket science. It’s definitely possible. And I invite everyone to share this vision because it makes our work feel more useful, more meaningful.”

If you’re ready to maximise the effectiveness of your training programmes, find out more at

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