Training Transfer: the Case for ‘Implementation Intentions’

International Journal of HRD Practice, Policy and Research 2017, Vol 2 No 2: 49-56
doi: 10.22324/ijhrdppr.2.115

Peter Greenan, Huddersfield Business School
Martin Reynolds, Leeds Business School
Paul Turner, Leeds Business School

As organizations adopt a more inclusive or pluralistic approach to talent management, there is an emphasis on the engagement of a broader segment of the workforce to deliver both strategic and operational objectives. Accompanying this is investment in learning, training and development activity which is intended to enhance the achievement of the objectives based on the assumption of the effective transfer of training to improve performance or behavioural outcomes. Ensuring that training investment is converted to measurable outcomes is therefore a priority for many organizations and Return on Investment in Training (ROIT) is increasingly sought in the same way as for any other corporate investment. This article synthesizes developments in goal setting theory and highlights a limitation with regards to the theory being applied to the contemporary workplace.  It proposes that implementation intentions and the associated ‘if/then’ plans offer the chance to mediate this. Key to these plans being successful is for them to be embedded at the learning design stage creating a clear link between the need for the learning/training and agreed objectives. A large part of the success of implementation intentions is that control of behaviour is given to situational cues in the workplace and these can be reinforced by supportive line managers and peers. But it is essential that they are also aware of the implementation intention plan in order to offer informed support. A holistic learning environment is key to the success of any intervention but given the importance of situational cues when considering implementation intentions it is vital that both learners and those who support them in the workplace are aware of the specific roles they play and the impact they have.

Key Words: training transfer, implementation intentions, line managers, return on investment