How To Transfer Recognition Skills Back on the Job

An area of concern when conducting workshops around learning recognition-giving skills is ensuring learners will apply the learned skills back on the job.

Below are my recommendations I use with participants in my learning sessions. 

Set up your workshop or seminar session so that attendees sit in table groups with fellow learners. Where possible, try to get a diversity of attendees at each table so they’re not sitting with everyone they know from their own department or work team.

Towards the end of the training session the final activity is choosing a realistic and manageable goal to implement a recognition specific skill or principle learned from the session over the next 30-days. The expectation is that you will follow up with each group’s participants to gather team results and compile a transfer of learning report.

This is the best way to get people to apply the recognition skills they learn in training into their jobs. Consider the following steps in making a transfer of learning a success.

A Fun Learning Activity

It’s important with applying newly learned recognition skills to make this activity a fun learning experience. I suggest table group teams create a team name for themselves to generate some team spirit and enthusiasm. The adventurous teams can even generate a catchy team slogan or mission phrase.

Each team crafts a goal that spells out specifically what their one thing will be to make recognition happen where they work over the next 30-days.

The activity that teams choose should not be demanding or onerous with their regular work responsibilities. Some groups say they will tackle a goal every business day. This kind of goal is unrealistic and I want to encourage everyone to succeed. Instead, I suggest teams set a goal that targets behavior once a week for the next 4 weeks, or perhaps one action they will complete once over the 30-day timeframe.

Invite team members to select a concrete recognition action or behaviour they have learned or feel they need to implement where they work. The action should be easy to communicate, simple to model for others, and still have fun with. This is an opportunity for them to recognize others around them. The exercise also helps to hold those in each group positively accountable for giving meaningful and effective “real recognition”.

Measuring and Reporting Performance

At the end of the month following the learning session you follow up with each individual from each team group. Send a separate email to each group’s members reminding them what their goal was and asking each member to respond to three questions. 

Your purpose is to get a subjective reporting and measurement back of how well they did with transferring the recognition behavior at work. You will probably find the need to send a second follow up email because not everyone replies right away. Use their creative team name in the subject heading as a potential trigger for team members to open the email and reply. 

Ask them simple questions that gain responses to the following areas:

1. Find out how they did in achieving their goal. You need to come away with a measure you can use to report back to managers and senior leaders. Ask each team member to share with you how successful they were out of a 100 percent measure in achieving their group goal.

2. Find out what they learned. Gain some introspective reflection from each person and discover what benefit they got or what they learned from doing this exercise. Ask them to share their observations and feelings in a short answer.

3. Find out what else they need. This is a chance for all participants to ask questions or express concerns they have with giving meaningful and effective recognition. It becomes informal research for you to identify recognition content for future learning material.

Reporting Back the Transfer of Learning Outcomes

Organizational leaders, and learning and development professionals, will want to know the results of the transferring learning exercise.

With the information you have found out you can organize a written report by team name with a list of the members of that team. You can record the specific behavioral goal that the team set for themselves. Show the number and percentage of team member participation for each team.

Record each individual’s percentage level they achieved for their recognition goal. With the responses you get calculate a team average percentage achieved. 

Next, write up the learning points each participant gained from their group’s recognition exercise. Once you have collected each teams perceptions and reflections review for any trends and observations and provide your recommendations.

Finally, make a list of the individual questions and issues about recognition generated following attempts to carry out the exercise. This becomes great content to address future learning opportunities. Or, respond to each question asked and send out a Question and Answer document to all attendees as a follow up to the learning session.

Insights from Transfer of Learning Exercises 

Lessons learned from doing these transfer of learning exercises are many.

  • Participation levels tell you about areas such as work demands that interfere with learning application or perhaps the level of commitment people have to improve upon recognition practices.
  • Success level percentages can reveal how well defined the behavior was for people to act upon and the level of team member commitment to make the goal happen.
  • Lessons learned give you insights on each individual’s introspection and reflection on the recognition action, and can show you the ease or difficulty people had with carrying out the goal.
  • Questions and concerns identified provide you with a barometer for where things are at with recognition in your company and give a wealth of information of next steps for you to consider. 

Recognition Reflection: What are you doing to ensure lessons learned in recognition training programs are implemented on the job?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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