Future of learning blog

How to convert learning into change in the workplace

Learning transfer – two words to send a shiver down the spine of any L&D professional. You provide your people with training, they learn all the latest ideas and return to the workplace feeling inspired and ready for action. A month later and nothing has changed; everyone is behaving in the same way and your objectives haven’t been met. What’s gone wrong?

That’s a quandary Emma Weber is keen to solve. As CEO and founder of Lever – Transfer of Learning, Emma’s aim is to help organisations and their employees convert learning to effective action back in the workplace. To that end, she developed Turning Learning into Action, a methodology that facilitates the leap to effective learning transfer and behaviour change.

“We don’t deliver any training programmes ourselves, we solely provide learning transfer solutions,” Emma explains. “Whatever the content of the training you embark on, we can tailor a follow-up plan.”

The reflection factor

Turning Learning into Action is essentially a support system to ensure knowledge and skills learnt become knowledge and skills applied. It puts reflection and accountability at the heart of the learning transfer process.

“We need to get people to slow down and reflect on the actions and behaviours they intend to put in place,” says Emma.

This is done by Emma’s skilled team via phone conversations at various intervals after the training is completed. “We start by developing an action plan,” says Emma. “Then we move on to a five-step process designed to hold the individual accountable to follow through on that plan.

“After that it’s evaluation when changed behaviours are observed, assessed and collated by the individuals and/or their managers.”

The AI advantage

It’s a system with an impressive track record but, like all good entrepreneurs, Emma isn’t one to rest on her laurels. “For the first 15 years this was all done over the phone by my fabulous team around the world – 16 countries, 12 languages, delivering one-to-one.

“I would tell them: it’s not about the participant talking to you; it’s about you helping the participant have a conversation with themselves. And that’s when one of my team said to me, ‘Well, Emma, if that really is true, why can’t we do it with artificial intelligence?’”

That started Emma on a journey to put her methodology into AI. “We now have Coach M, our artificial intelligence coach. For some projects, participants will work with the human team and Coach M, and for others they’re exclusively with Coach M.”

At its core, Coach M follows the same format as the human version. It’s still a two-way process, but with the participant engaging with Coach M via chatbot technology. Messages and prompts are exchanged through SMS or online platforms.

“At first, I didn’t think this would ever be possible with AI. I was very sceptical, but willing to experiment. We trialled it and got great feedback. I thought, wow, this really works,” says Emma. Five years on, she has a long list of happy clients who would agree.

Behavioural change

Emma’s passion for learning transfer is rooted in her interest in behavioural change. “There’s something so satisfying about educating the learners. Often, people will think they’ve learnt something when they have watched a video or read a book. They may intellectually know it, may even be able to recite it or answer a question about it, but if they don’t put that knowledge into action, it’s going to be of very little value.”

It’s a passion we share here at Stellar Labs. We design our training programmes to cement learning transfer into the process.

Our courses are designed using a neuroscience approach. We distil the physical, cognitive, social and psychological elements of learning into programmes that get results. Learning must focus on transfer through engagement, retention and application. Understanding how the brain works, reacts and changes when learning is the key to making that happen.

We link the learning to tangible business outcomes, a cause Emma is keen to advance. “The future of learning is about outcomes and behavioural change. What are we doing with that learning? How can we support people to make that transition? I’ve been driving towards that for years. Finally, I see that shift starting to happen.”

And with the strides Emma and her team are making, we are all well on the way to breaking down the last line of resistance to learning transfer.