In L&D circles, the fashion is for agile learning; for bite-size sessions, or even micro-learning; for self-direction and curation. Surely no-one still attends workshops? Even worse, 18 month programmes? Well. Yes they do, and there’s a reason for it: They work.
They work AS LONG AS the right people are on the programme in the first place, the programme is designed to take them on a development journey, AND those people are given high levels of support and challenge. I’m delighted to have played a supporting role in such a programme for the last 9 months – The award winning Academy at Johnson’s Apparelmaster.
The Academy is multi-layered (internal) development programme that I’ve been supporting for the last 9 months. Here I am (on the right) with (L-R) Charlene Howard, Michela Deegan and Jan Fisher-Payne who each manage and deliver a specific stream. I have been supporting the largest group – the Intermediate level. Although my part has ended, the Academy is just half-way through. Twenty-Four people have been through 9 months of structured development, including self-directed learning, five 2-day workshops, telephone coaching and practical assignments. So far, the results have been pretty impressive. I’ve seen the majority of these people grow in confidence, become more adaptable, brave and able to take a ‘big-picture’ view, which is leading to better decision making, improved performance management and yes, real results on the bottom line (one person alone implemented changes that saved a substantial amount of money, and all have made changes that have directly or indirectly improved the business). Whilst I’d love to be able to say this achievement is wholly down to my input, I know that it’s not: There’s a lot more to it than that, and that a number of factors that have led to this (and most of them link to the 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness defined by Dr. Ina Weinbauer-Heidel of the Institute for Transfer Effectiveness). These are:
- Delegates self-selected to be on the programme – no-one was forced, they had to apply for a place (Transfer motivation)
- They believed that the programme would benefit their career as many people who have attended similar programmes in the past saw their career develop (Self-efficacy)
- They understood exactly what the programme was about, what was involved and what committing to the workload the programme would require of them before they signed up (Clarity of Expectations)
- They had to complete practical post-course activities, linked to the content of the workshops, and report back on what they’d done, and the business results of their action (Transfer expectations from the organisation)
- They stayed together as a group, and became quite close, interacting between workshops as well as one them (Support from peers)
- All participants had to have line manager support to make sure that they would be given the time and opportunity to put key learning into practice Most had discussions with their managers after each event. Key members of the senior management visibly supported the programme (Support from supervisors).
- Delegates reported back each month on what they had done to transfer learning, and had periodic coaching calls with the Training Manager to help keep them on track (Transfer Volition)
- The workshops (although generic in concept) were highly tailored and relevant to their business, plus (as the programme progressed) we increasingly used real-world (live) case studies that really helped to bring the learning to life (Content Relevance). We were also able to build on the content from previous workshops, demonstrating links and highlighting how the different concepts fitted together. This increased the level of challenge as the programme progressed without over-loading participants with content.
- The workshops were practical, following accelerated learning principles giving people chance to practice key skills (Active Practice)
- Post-course assignments were clearly explained, with direct links to the workshop content. Delegates also had a choice of activity, so they could select the activity most relevant to their part of the business (Transfer planning/opportunities for application)
So – I played my part in success by making sure that the 4 levers of transfer effectiveness that relate to training design were in place – but my client, and the participants themselves, did the rest. The second part of the programme involves them gaining specialist skills and working together on a business-based project that is selected to stretch them and develop the business. I know that we have set them up to succeed, and that the time and the money that has been invested in these 24 individuals has been proved to be worth it as Johnson’s Apparelmaster won the Talent Management Award from Personnel Today earlier this week. See the Press Release Here.
If you want to create a bespoke development programme that will have impact on the bottom line (and why wouldn’t you?) please get in touch!!
For more information on the 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness, visit www.transfereffectiveness.com
And to read more about the Academy, and see what a programme designed by us looks like, see here!