How do You Ensure Your Training Investment Changes Behavior and Produces Results?

Tara Holwegner | Senior Program Leader, Life Cycle Engineering

Finding, developing and retaining talent is one of the most important priorities for industrial and manufacturing leaders today. By providing development opportunities to your teams, you’re inviting a strategic, intentional investment in your people that can motivate employees to stay and grow with your organization, filling current and forecasted needs and roles. Many times those opportunities include a training event or learning experience.

But how do you know if you’re getting a return on your training investment? Typical learning evaluations include the reaction of learners or knowledge comprehension tests, but the real value from training is if people actually change their behavior and produce a business result by using their new learning in the workplace.

It’s when we treat learning as a process – an experience that’s more than just a training class – that we can realize the value of our learning investments in terms of application goals, individual results, and performance improvement. When attending a class, retention and application of the new knowledge and skills varies from 10 to 30%, based on the type of class and content. Two factors heavily influence the extent to which the training is applied – retention and management support. When you include retention strategies and management support beyond the classroom experience, the application of new knowledge and skills will be much higher, often 90% or better. And it’s in that application where a treasure trove of return on investment is discovered.

We call programs that deliver results High Impact Learning programs. The Life Cycle Institute employs a 3A Learning® Process that encourages manager involvement, learner accountability, and retention strategies to ensure learning changes behavior and improves performance. The Life Cycle Institute’s 3A Learning process integrates learning, leadership and change management competencies to produce documented, sustainable results.

A High-Impact Learning experience using 3A has three phases: Align, Assimilate, and Apply.

Align Phase (before training)

Before participating in training, learners should have an understanding of what they are expected to learn, how their behavior is expected to change, the results they are expected to achieve, and how these results contribute to an organizational goal.


Assimilate Phase (during training)

During training, the focus is on assimilating the learning that resonates best with the participant. An effective learning event will engage and motivate them to try relevant skills and knowledge that they can focus on and practice during the class.


Apply Phase (after training)

Applying what you’ve learned is where 80% or more of learning takes place. Using new skills and knowledge within the work environment makes the learning stick, causing a behavior change that produces desired results. In this step, it is important to experience early success – we recommend choosing a project that can be completed within 90 days and experience some result within 30 days. Because it is human nature to be resistant to change, employees need someone supporting them with encouragement and coaching, and running interference as they attempt to adapt their behavior.

One tool the Life Cycle Institute uses during these three phases is the Learning Impact Map.

Learning Impact Maps (LIM)

A Learning Impact Map (LIM) facilitates management support and aligning expectations. This support and engagement is necessary to change behavior. The LIM creates a direct line of sight between the individual behavior and organizational goals. It aligns learning objectives with expected behavior changes.

Purpose of an LIM:

• Facilitates management support and aligning expectations

• Identifies if the training can achieve the desired results in terms of broad business goals

• Prepares participants to learn and change their behavior based on the training

• Links the desired behavior with organizational performance and business goals

Components of an LIM:

• Knowledge and skills the participant will learn in the training

• Behaviors driven by the new knowledge and skills

• Results that will be realized by the new behaviors

• Goals of the organization that the results will help accomplish

Learning investments are made to advance the success of the organization by working towards specific goals. By identifying goals the organization wants to work towards, the learning objectives – or the knowledge and skills individuals need to work towards those goals — become more evident. Now these defined goals and learning objectives can become a standard to evaluate training options under consideration, making sure they are prepare people to meet the goals.

Three specific, active, measureable objectives is a practical number. Once learning objectives and goals have been decided, the learner and their manager can fill out the rest of the map to influence application and show results from the training investment.

• What business result do you personally impact or contribute to?

• What are some actions you might take after training to reach these results?

After training, we recommend following up with learners and managers to see if the learners has started to try their new learning in the workplace, and if there are any successes to celebrate.

Following the 3A Process and using a Learning Impact Map establishes the expectations and leadership alignment that helps people apply the new knowledge and skills. It will produce documented results and visibility to the value and return on investment a learning and development investment can produce.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

About the Author

Tara Holwegner Senior Program Leader, Life Cycle Engineering

With over 15 years’ experience at Life Cycle Engineering, Tara has developed volumes of training, eLearning, and performance improvement products. She was part of the initial development team for LCE’s online toolkit – the LCEsmartr Playbook – and remains a core co-creator for that system, leading a team of professional instructional designers, software architects and reliability/asset management specialists. Leading the future of product innovation at LCE, Tara’s expertise and skillset enables organizations with the right tools to create a big impact in the business.