Transfer of Training

What is Transfer of Training?

Transfer of training refers to the extent to which the skills, knowledge, and behaviors learned in one context can be applied in another context. In other words, it refers to the ability of individuals to take what they have learned in a training program and use it in their job or real-life situations.

Three types of transfers of training detail different results: 

  1. Positive transfer: This is when employees can apply the training in their roles. It means the delivery was effective in transferring knowledge. The goal of training activities is to improve workers’ performance.
  2. Zero transfer: This is when there is no change in performance after a training session. This often means trainers may need to reevaluate their strategies. In addition, leaders will need to check for gaps before training again.
  3. Negative transfer: This is when the employees’ performance decreases after the training. Leaders need to readjust their strategies to teach their teams more effectively. Or workers may need more training.


Studies averaged that individuals remember about 20% of what they hear but 80% of what they see. Certain mediums have a higher transfer of training rates. And combinations of mediums increase the level of retention. 

What Factions Affect the Transfer of Training?

Several factors can affect the transfer of training, including:

  1. Training design: The training program’s design can significantly impact the transfer of training. Training that is relevant, practical, and well-designed is more likely to be transferred to the workplace.
  2. Trainee characteristics: The characteristics of the trainees, such as their prior knowledge and experience, motivation, and learning styles, can also affect the transfer of training.
  3. Work environment: The work environment, including the support and resources available to employees, can impact the transfer of training. A supportive work environment that encourages and reinforces new skills can increase the transfer of training.
  4. Training evaluation: Evaluating the effectiveness of the training program can help identify areas where transfer of training is not occurring and enable adjustments to be made to improve future training programs.How to Give Feedback that Lands

Why is Transfer of Training Important to Learning Leaders?

Transfer of training is an essential consideration for organizations that invest in employee training and development. If training does not result in the transfer of learning, then the organization may not see the desired improvements in performance or productivity.

1. Reaching Business Goals & Increasing Productivity

With a positive transfer of training, employees retain information and develop new capabilities. However, workers may need more than an explanation of new policies or processes. And while companies can work uniformly, they may need different training methods to recall information. 

Employees can reach business goals when training focuses on transferring their new knowledge to their daily responsibilities. Furthermore, new strategies for training managers can boost employees’ productivity. 

Training can better ensure employees know updated versions of their organization’s best practices. Continuous education strategies can improve overall productivity and accomplish long-term goals.

2. Creating a Positive Workplace & Boosting Moral

Transfer of training contributes to a more positive work environment. Workers often express more satisfaction and perform their duties more efficiently when they feel the employer has their best interests in mind. Monitoring knowledge retention shows employees that managers care about:

  • Their career paths and professional development.
  • Them taking on new responsibilities.
  • Their value and the company’s culture. 

Employees recognize leadership’s investment in their growth. Additionally, workers with high morale often have more innovative new ideas. 

3. Assessing Performance

Transfer of training can help management do formal performance assessments. Managers can apply accountability metrics to ensure workers understand their training and duties. Team leaders can provide information and share their expectations. 

For example, management can include newly taught safety training as a job requirement. Employees can receive a positive assessment for complying with these new processes.

4. Creating New Education Strategies

Evaluating workers’ abilities and environment helps leaders create training plans. Different opportunities can help them increase revenue or productivity. The following are some training models:

  • Active learning is when employees perform specific tasks as they learn.
  • Behavioral modeling is when trainers use demonstrations in addition to lectures and discussions. 
  • Error-based examples are when trainers pose a fixable problem. 

These models can effectively teach new responsibilities, policies, or information. As a result, employees develop skills and abilities and learn how to handle unique situations. 

3 Main Transfer of Training Theories

Training transfer has many influences. The environment sets the stage for retention. The following work environments can positively sway the transfer of training:

  • Opportunity to perform or use the learned material
  • Support from supervisors and peers
  • Climates with cues and feedback mechanisms
  • Regular review of training material

But training and the trainee are the primary factors that impact positive transfer. The below theories have different thoughts on how strategies and personal characteristics affect the transfer of training. 

1. Theory of Identical Element

This is the idea that training transfer is quicker and more effective the more significant the similarity—the degree and pace of transfer increase with the number of similar elements. The transfer of training is proportional to the degree of resemblance in situations.

For example, it is easier for individuals to learn a software program if it is similar to another one they already use. Likewise, they can learn new systems faster if they have several similar features.

Coaches and education facilitators can better encourage the transfer of training when they parallel new information with existing knowledge. 

2. Theory of Generalization of Experience

This is the belief that individuals’ understanding comes from connecting past experiences with new ones. Trainees generalize patterns, principles, and other similarities to deduce further information. This capability to generalize knowledge differs from person to person.

Generalization can also be a part of training. Hands-on practice can be far more helpful than just verbal explanations. It becomes easier for employees to complete and comprehend something as they gain more familiarity. 

3. Cognitive Theory

This is the notion that individuals’ learning ability stems from their mental capabilities. Participants can learn training program principles by solving cognitive tasks and challenges. But training transfer depends on the individuals’ comprehension, thought process, and memory. 

In addition, their motivation, self-efficacy, and personality influence the pace and the effectiveness of transference. Finally, employees’ perception of the training’s usefulness or value also affects training transfer. 

Transfer of Training Examples

Education strategies and techniques vary by program and topic. However, there are many examples of training program benefits. Below are some illustrations of how to increase the transfer of training. 


New hires learn about the organization’s processes and systems. The transfer of onboarding training can include using essential software and other operating systems. In addition, coaches demonstrate and explain organization-wide policies, including the company culture. 

Representatives offer a cheat sheet to increase the training transfer rate. The cheat sheet includes quick commands and basic instructions for routine tasks. This makes it easy for employees to look up information they want to review or consult later.

Manager Training

Management training teaches leaders how to supervise teams effectively. Often, top-performing employees who need management experience require additional training. In addition, organizations that promote from within may find management training useful. 

Coaches and mentors can use case studies and examples to bolster training. In addition, a high-fidelity simulation can help them practice procedural training tasks.


Different types of development training provide or deepen employees’ knowledge. Common types include:

  • Technical skills
  • Soft skills
  • Products and services
  • Quality
  • Safety
  • Team 

Development training is helpful for organizations that develop new products and systems. Likewise, coaching can modernize employees on the latest processes and methods. Finally, post-training, businesses can reinforce retention by offering practice communities. 

Employee groups can learn from each other and develop a shared understanding of how to get work done. Similarly, managers can reinforce training by asking learners how they think what they learned applies to their jobs.

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Retention & Employee Engagement

Employees are more likely to stay at an organization that invests in their career path. Continuous training and education programs are valuable for skill-building techniques and reaching other professional development goals. Likewise, learning tracks fuel growth through brand attraction.

Organizations can offer platforms that promote learning. For example, small-scale internal training allows employees to receive more tailored instruction. Additional resources outside of the classroom or cohort strategies strengthen the transfer of training. 

Change Management

Change management training helps leaders deal with difficult situations. Businesses may offer this education before its necessary as a future-proof strategy. Organizational leadership can improve the transfer of training by telling trainees about its value. Individuals are more likely to retain coaching if they are motivated or excited about the material. 

Performance Review

Like manager training, performance review coaching helps leaders give constructive feedback. Trainers can have trainees set up goals and identify conditions when they might use the skills and behaviors. In addition, practicing giving performance reviews in a stimulation helps new managers.

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Transfer of Training Conclusion

Overall, transfer of training is an essential consideration for organizations that want to ensure that their training programs are effective and result in tangible improvements in performance and productivity.

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