The learning and development profession is filled with intelligent, committed and experienced individuals, who appreciate the relevance and importance of the profession to businesses.

Yet within the profession, there is a distinct lack of belief in the ability to truly create business outcomes through guaranteed behavioral change post-learning. Many think behavioral change is difficult. Others label business outcomes post-learning as the ‘holy grail of learning.’

Granted, the measurement can be tricky, but when organizations see people changing post-learning, they become less worried about the specific numbers beneath it.

If positive business changes post-learning aren’t being created, then what is the point? Why should learning and development have an increased budget?

Capturing the barriers to change has provided insight to where the problem lies, but this has been known for years. It has also provided the profession an ‘out.’

In a study by Huczynski & Lewis (1980), “the management style and attitudes of the trainee’s boss were found to be the single most important factor in management training transfer.”

Many organizations have tried for years to get a higher level of manager engagement to the learning process, some have succeeded, but many have not. Interestingly it’s almost a chicken and egg scenario – until learning contributes towards business outcomes, the managers don’t want to engage. Yet until managers get involved, learning can’t contribute to business outcomes. The level that managers can contribute and embed the learning all depends on the maturity and current capability of the organization.

The belief that it is the manager’s role to work with the participant post-learning to create change and deliver outcomes is a myth that limits thinking.

Let’s embrace new thinking as learning and development professionals and own the behavioral change post-learning by creating a robust learning transfer process.

Some simple analytics will help you build your case as to who (whether it is you, the manager, an internal team or external specialists) that supports the process. Once you start to show a change of initiatives, then you can work closer within the business on future programs.

The fundamental requirement within a robust learning transfer process is self-reflection. Ensure the reflection has three key elements:

  • It should be specific to the individual, not as a group. It’s about them being honest with themselves.
  • It should have structure focusing on the actions they have committed to implementing post-learning. Self-rating is an easy way to capture information as a starting point.
  • It should hold individuals accountable to prioritizing the learning and implementation of changes for long term gain and business outcomes.

The most important of those three is accountability. In today’s complex adaptive systems that many organizations are, where people are moving away from the old command and control style of leadership, accountability has become a bit of a dirty word. There is a need for a fresh perspective on how accountability is viewed. Focus must be given to holding the individuals accountable to themselves. This will create the most profound, powerful and sustainable change. It is essential and fundamental to the learning transfer process.

As the learning transfer discussion grows, the argument will come up of internal vs. external, face-to-face vs. online and so on. Even if you choose internal, the most effective method for self-reflection is delivery by mobile.

So, if you are reading this as a learning professional, be bold and step up to the ownership of change post-learning.