Research-driven approaches to Learning Transfer: Manager Support

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

People managers: what is your managerial approach when it comes to your direct reports learning?



We all report to someone. And that someone has a massive influence on the amount of learning we transfer to our roles. Think about it; imagine a scenario where your manager sends you on a training course. Before you attend, she says “I wish I didn't have to send you to this training but the higher-ups need someone to attend; so go and sit through it so we can keep them happy”. 


How much effort will you put into paying attention during the training? Let alone learning!

Now imagine another scenario where your manager sends you on a training course and before you go she says “I’m excited to hear about this course. When you return, let's sit down together and you can tell me about it. Then we’ll work on a plan to find situations where you can use what you learned”.

The research says you will be more motivated to attend, learn, and transfer learning in this scenario.

The relationship between learning transfer and manager support was investigated by Massenberg et al (2015). They surveyed 194 employees and found that employees who have the support of their managers in times of learning are much more likely to transfer learning. 

Key takeaway:

For people managers, your approach to supporting your reports during learning is extremely important. Research-proven methods you can use to increase learning transfer are:

  • Reduce the workload of employees post-training so they have time to reflect on and apply their learning (Clarke, 2002) 

  • Discussing learning and training participation with your employees (Burke & Hutchins, 2007)

  • Hold post-training goal setting meetings with your employees to improve follow through on learning (Massenberg et al., 2015)

If you want to learn more into the referenced research they are listed below:


Burke, L. A., & Hutchins, H. M. (2007). Training transfer: An integrative literature review. Human Resource Development Review, 6(3), 263–296. doi: 10.1177/1534484307303035


Clarke, N. (2002). Job/work environment factors influencing training transfer within a human service agency: Some indicative support for Baldwin and Ford’s transfer climate construct. International journal of training and development, 6(3), 146-162.


Massenberg, A., Spurk, D., & Kauffeld, S. (2015). Social support at the workplace, motivation to transfer and training transfer: A multilevel indirect effects model. International Journal of Training and Development, 19(3), 161–178. doi: 10.1111/ijtd.12054



About Fergal:

Fergal is a learning transfer expert who shares his evidence-based learning transfer approaches with the learning community. Fergal holds an MSc in Education and Training, and a BSc in Psychology. Contact Fergal for speaking engagements, writing opportunities, or learning transfer consultancy by visiting www.fergalconnolly.com.

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