Ten Tips for Transferring Classroom Training

October 29, 2015 | 1013 Views

Ten Tips for Transferring Classroom Training

Patrick Yearout, FMP, CHT

Director of Innovation, Recruiting, and Training | Ivar's & Kidd Valley Restaurants

Although it doesn’t get as much attention as the rapidly growing field of e-learning these days, classroom instruction is still a very popular method of training in the hotel and restaurant industries.  According to the results from CHART’s 2015 Trends in Hospitality Training and Development Study, over 40% of the respondents said they use some form of in-person class when teaching topics such as guest service, financial management, new employee orientation, supervisory skills, HR compliance programs, and train-the-trainer skills. 

One of the big challenges with this type of instruction, of course, is to ensure that the knowledge, behaviors, and skills taught are effectively transferred to workplaces after the training session has concluded.  If this learning doesn’t make its way back to your hotels or restaurants to address performance gaps or make changes necessary to your operations, then all of the money spent to put on the class (including development time, printing training materials, travel reimbursements, room rental fees, and wages for the facilitator and the students) will have been wasted. 

A great deal of this transference responsibility will lie with the trainees who attend the class and their managers, but here are 10 steps that the trainer can take to help facilitate this process. 

  1. Alignment – Regardless of the topic, the training must ultimately be aligned with the mission, vision, and values of the company.  Trainers need to keep organizational culture in mind so that their lessons do not conflict with what the trainees will be seeing, hearing, and experiencing when they are back on the job.  
  2. Involvement – One of the most important steps to assist transference is to involve the trainees and their managers in the instructional design process.  Their desire to implement or change behaviors will be much stronger if they participate in the class creation, and they can often help shape course objectives and provide realistic and relevant hospitality role play scenarios.  Additionally, the more managers know about the class going in, the more likely they will be to assign the right people at their locations to attend.  
  3. Betterment – One of the basic principles of Malcolm Knowles’ adult learning theory is that adults are most interested in learning when the lessons are relevant and impactful to them (telling them that the company will be more profitable is not a good enough reason).  Trainees want to know the answer to such questions as “How will this affect me?” and “Will I be better off?” or they may not bother bringing the learning back to their hotel or restaurant.  As a result, trainers need to take the time at the start of the class to explain how the new skills or changed behaviors will improve the professional lives of the trainees.  
  4. Reinforcement – No other activity will help to reinforce new skills more than opportunities to practice.  Getting trainees to go through the right motions and say the right words in a safe and controlled environment will help with retention more than if they were to simply read about the skills in a book or watch the trainer demonstrate them in the front of the room.  
  5. Encouragement – While the trainees practice new skills during class, the trainer should be watching their progress closely and providing as much constructive feedback as possible (skills practice is not the time for the trainer to take a break).  Rather, the trainer needs to be watching trainees closely, encouraging their progress, and making them feel comfortable as they stretch their abilities and attempt to learn the desired behaviors.  
  6. Equipment – Trainers can help their trainees remember what they have learned by equipping them with job aids to take back to their workplaces.  These aids could be items like pocket manuals, wall postings, checklists, or flowcharts that help trainees remember all the lesson details.
  7. Commitment – At the end of the class, trainers should work with their trainees to create and commit to an action plan with detailed transference goals to achieve once they return to work.  These goals should include specific, measurable, and timed benchmarks, and the plan should be copied in triplicate: one copy for the trainer, one for the trainee, and one for the trainee’s supervisor.  
  8. Assessment – After the trainees have had time to incorporate their lessons into their workplace routines, the trainer should visit their hotels or restaurants to assess the progress and compare it to the action plan.  If the goals have not been met, then the trainer should discuss the causes of the performance gap with the trainees and their managers and propose solutions to get the progress back on track.  
  9. Refinement – After visiting trainees in the workplace and learning about any struggles they may have had transferring the learning, the trainer can refine their class to incorporate new or improved lessons or activities that will help future attendees overcome those same obstacles.  
  10. Acknowledgment – Recognizing those trainees who effectively transfer classroom learning to their jobs can also help to facilitate the process.  Acknowledgement of this success can come not only from their manager but also from the trainer of the class, and the more public the recognition (such as at a district meeting or in the company newsletter), the better.    

Many hospitality trainers will be satisfied with high evaluation scores from their class attendees and improvements in pre-class and post-class testing scores, but getting the trainees to like the class and learn from it are only the first steps in the process.  Getting them to incorporate their learning into their workplace routines and improve the metrics for their hotels and restaurants should be every classroom trainer’s ultimate goal.

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