The skills your employ­ees pos­sess are the foun­da­tion for your organ­i­sa­tion run­ning suc­cess­ful­ly. Under­stand­ing how to trans­fer these skills across the organ­i­sa­tion will help you tap into hid­den poten­tial and cre­ate a stronger, more adapt­able workforce.

For effec­tive skills trans­fer, research shows peo­ple need access to learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties that are: 

  • engag­ing
  • rel­e­vant
  • con­tex­tu­alised

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this is dif­fi­cult to attain and con­ven­tion­al learn­ing and devel­op­ment meth­ods often strug­gle to achieve skills trans­fers across their people.

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4 drawbacks of formal training delivery

Would you explain to some­one how to dri­ve a car with class­room train­ing and expect them to par­al­lel park after­wards…? You’d prob­a­bly agree, that’s a bad idea!

1. Formal training does not allow learners to apply theories in a real life situation.

Learn­ing about some­thing in a class­room set­ting is a stark con­trast to a work envi­ron­ment, where dif­fer­ent vari­ables affect per­for­mance. Imag­ine the dif­fi­cul­ty of dri­ving in rush hour and how this would dif­fer from dri­ving being explained in a class­room setting. 

2.The teaching style is designed for the masses rather than tailored to the individual. 

Each employ­ee will have dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence and skills to share and develop.

3.There is a low rate of application into practice.

Learn­ers dis­play high lev­els of under­stand­ing after being pre­sent­ed with a the­o­ry, which lures train­ing teams to believe they are being effec­tive. In actu­al­i­ty, less than 5% of course atten­dees imple­ment what they have learnt through a pre­sen­ta­tion style class­room train­ing only approach (Joyce and Show­ers, 2002).

4.Time and cost constraints.

It can be expen­sive and time-con­sum­ing to mobilise groups of peo­ple to attend for­mal training.


The skills transfer process

The 70.20.10 mod­el is much talked about amongst learn­ing and devel­op­ment (L&D) pro­fes­sion­als in terms of pro­vid­ing more con­tex­tu­alised learn­ing experiences:

  • 70% — of our learn­ing comes from chal­leng­ing assign­ments and on-the-job experiences.
  • 20% — of our learn­ing is devel­oped from our rela­tion­ships with oth­er peo­ple, our net­works and the feed­back we receive.
  • 10% — of our learn­ing comes from for­mal train­ing, such as cours­es, work­shops and programmes.

This rein­forces research into skills trans­fer which demon­strates that to sus­tain­ably imple­ment a skill, these 4 activ­i­ties are crucial: 

  • See­ing authen­tic exam­ples of prac­tice in context 
  • Under­stand­ing the the­o­ry behind the practice
  • Prac­tis­ing in con­text and get­ting feedback
  • Work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly in con­text to refine skills over time

4 tips for successful skills transfer 

1. Have an online com­mu­ni­ty where employ­ees can see real-life exam­ples of best work­ing prac­tices cre­ates a col­lab­o­ra­tive learn­ing space. 

2. Give employ­ees oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn the­o­ry in per­son­alised ways ensures deep­er under­stand­ing. An online repos­i­to­ry allows employ­ees to dip in and out at times that suit them and does not cause con­flict with oth­er work responsibilities.

3. Pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties that allow employ­ees to self-reflect, enable them to see their strengths and iden­ti­fy areas that could do with improve­ment. Encour­ag­ing peo­ple to record them­selves with video to be able to review and analyse their own per­for­mance is a pow­er­ful learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty.  

4. Use tech­nol­o­gy as a plat­form for staff to work togeth­er and share ideas avoids impact on day-to-day sched­ul­ing. Using tech­nol­o­gy also max­imis­es time effi­cien­cy and allows employ­ees to con­nect regard­less of distance. 

Max­imis­ing skills trans­fer for your organ­i­sa­tion is an ongo­ing process that doesn’t stop — it should be con­tin­u­ous and refined over time. This will lead to a more adap­tive work­force that is able to change and learn new skills quick­ly and effectively.

Skill tran­si­tions ben­e­fit both the employ­er and employ­ee. To under­stand the holis­tic approach­ing for imple­ment­ing new skills down­load the White paper: Vision for Learn­ing Organisations.

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4 tips for suc­cess­ful skills transfer
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