Using Social Tools to Ensure Transfer of Learning in Your Training Sessions

Social media is all the rage. You can use this to your advantage in your training sessions. Web 2.0 technologies have created a rapid growth in the use of social media tools and social networking activities. For coaches, social media provides information to learners who need it, when they need it, and where they need it.
It is effective when learners ask peers or make use of their networking resources to find answers. From your perspective as a coach, social networks allow you to extend your learning between formal training events. Using blogs, wikis, community spaces, Facebook, Instagram, Google Wave, Skype, YouTube, Twitter and other social media tools for learning doubles your chances of increasing learning for your participants. It is a good investment in learning for your organization.
A big advantage is that social media helps ensure that learning is transferred from the learning experience to implementation on the job. Humans have an inherent drive to learn together. In fact, collaboration is something humans do throughout their lives, so social media provides a natural foundation for learning. Social media also allows you to embrace the needs of the changing demographics in the workplace. You can provide ways for everyone to learn in the most comfortable and convenient ways for each individual.
Although millennials are more likely to rate social media tools as useful in the workplace, social media is used by every generation. Today’s global environment requires people to work across time and space to make informed decisions and solve complex problems. Social media ensures the transfer of learning to support decision making and problem solving. When employees bring learning to the workplace through social media, they are better able to solve problems more efficiently, find resources more easily, improve communications, and enhance their collaboration.

Initiation and implementation of social learning
Social learning forms a large part of your newly defined role as a coach and professional learner. Within this range you may have developed your skills and competencies. Some of the skills required are those you’ve used before: knowledge of team dynamics and team building, reward and recognition, and communication skills. You may still be honing other skills: knowledge of social media tools, basic concepts of social psychology, enhancing employee engagement in social learning, and community management strategies.
Wherever you are in person, you also need to be aware of any obstacles in your organization. Even if your organization doesn’t restrict access to tools and doesn’t have issues with firewalls, you may still need to address employees who have privacy concerns. These are real concerns and you should be aware of other available anonymous options and tools, such as Padlet. You may also have individuals who may not want to invest efforts in social media-based learning. If this is the case, start small and find early adopters in your organization who are eager to experiment with new tools and methods.
You may find that you need to establish a foundation of social learning in your organization. You may need to develop employees’ confidence in the usefulness of social learning as well as build their confidence in how the platform will be used. In some cases, you may still need to promote participation by developing cultural awareness. Support those individuals who don’t want to join the social learning bandwagon. Clarify and disseminate “ground rules” to ensure that everyone understands the expected behavior and standards. Dissemination guidelines help learners know how and when to contribute and what positive behaviors to expect.
You should also ask yourself if you need to develop employees’ technical knowledge and competence. You may need to provide basic skills to those who are new to social media, but even those who have been involved for a long time may not know everything. For example, does everyone know how to use RSS feeds or tagging? Is everyone familiar with polling and organizing tools? What about sharing files online and all the community spaces that are available now? It is better to assume limited knowledge and provide support than to assume that everyone knows how to use Twitter.
Social learning ideas you can implement
The following ideas fall into three categories that will help you introduce and use social learning tools to support the transfer of learning to the workplace. Ideas are separated into what you can do before, during and after the formal learning event. The suggestions are short and general so you can relate them to any topic or formal educational event you might be doing.

Before your training session
Introduce social learning before your training session. Have your learners think about what they really need to learn before the session. This increases the chance that they will focus more on the skills they need to implement and the problems they need to solve on the job. The result is that they will be prepared to know what is most important to them and to implement this when they return to the workplace.
>>> Needs Assessment Tweet: Connect with participants via their Twitter usernames prior to the session. If you know they don’t have accounts, offer them a tutorial. Ask three to four questions that will help you customize your content. For example, “What is your biggest challenge regarding this topic?” Tweet each question individually by inserting a link that takes them to a tool like SurveyMonkey. Collect and share results at the start of your session.
>>> Insta Introductions: Send instructions on how to set up an Instagram account and how to use hashtags. Ask the learners to use a picture from their phone to introduce themselves. The photo can be an activity they enjoy, somewhere they have visited, or something else. If they do not have a smartphone, they can use a photo from the Internet. Ask them to upload photos to Instagram and add a brief statement linking them to the photo. Encourage them to use hashtags to index the introductions.
>>> See Who’s Coming: Give learners a chance to get to know other learners. Have learners create a short presentation using the Prezi multimedia presentation tool. Learners will create a presentation and publish it to your learning management system to introduce themselves. Offer suggestions for what to include, such as their background, interests, favorite part of their job, reason for their interest in the topic, etc.
>>> READ Ahead: Start learning before the session. Select a short article you wrote or found on the Internet. Share the link with your learners or post it on your discussion board. Tell the learners that discussion questions will be posted a week before the session. Create badges to encourage participation – for example, a badge for the most practical, most lengthy, most confusing questions, and more.
>>> Agenda Video: Create a short video while discussing the agenda. Don’t write it down. Make it casual and fun. Upload the video to YouTube or SharePoint, or wherever learners can read and provide feedback.
>>> Tweet and follow: Share the hashtag you will use for the learning event. Encourage learners to follow each other, not just the session summary. Create short questions within the hashtag for participants to answer. Encourage them to ask questions.
>>> Send Quotations: Organize quotes related to the topic of the training session. For example, if the content is about leadership, you can Google “Leadership Quotes” and pick a few of the best. If everyone has a Twitter account, tweet a quote every day. If you don’t know the status of your Twitter accounts, post to SharePoint, a LinkedIn group, Yammer, or other available sites.

>> Link ’em up: Submit links to the latest online articles or videos related to the topic. Refer to these resources during your session.

During your training session
Use social learning tools during your training session to identify additional resources, practice using social media tools, and prepare to apply knowledge and skills in the workplace.
>>> Show me: Give a short introduction to the content. Ask the participants to form small groups of three to four learners. Make sure that at least one person in the group has a mobile device that can take pictures. Ask the participants to walk the organization for 20 minutes and take pictures that show how well or not the organization shows the content. For example, if the topic is teams, the team might take a photo of a team meeting or a manager helping someone solve a problem. Post the photos in the group’s community space.
>>> Easy web addresses: Provide participants with direct links to content, such as a video, website, or article that you refer to during the session. Post these links to Yammer, LinkedIn, or another group space.
>>> Take Me Home: Sometimes participants take part in a team report, demo, or training session, as they may be in a speaking class or a hands-on skills class. When that happens, ask others in the larger group to use the presenters’ mobile device to take a video of the training session. This way all learners can take the videos with them when they leave. Encourage the participants to take the recording home and share it with their children or friends for fun. Also encourage them to share with their social networks to get feedback.
>>> Spot data: Use a mobile survey tool like Survey Anyplace, SurveyGizmo or FluidSurveys. Ask small groups of participants to scan the content you have just completed in your session and create a five-question quiz that they will upload to your computer and assign a QR code. Each group downloads and completes tests from the other groups on their mobile devices. Post the questions and answers for later reference.
>>> Stay Consistent: Post a flip chart titled “What actions will you take from tomorrow?” Have the learners record their actions on sticky notes during the learning session and have them put the sticky notes on the flipchart. If you want, you can organize actions by attributes. Debrief the procedures towards the end of the session. Invite the participants to record additional actions and “paste” them on the graph. Take a picture of the flipchart page and post it to the group’s community space.
>>> Help Me at Work: Ask each participant to create and personalize a job assistance so that it is meaningful when returning to the workplace. It can be just a simple to-do list or a list of do’s and don’ts. Take a picture of each job aid and sponsor it on an organizing site like Gingko or Padlet.

>> Star you: Ask participants to photograph each other during the brief part of your session explaining what they have learned and how they will implement the concepts. Create a YouTube account where you can upload and organize videos.

After your training session
If you have introduced social learning tools before and during a training session, learners are more likely to continue using them after the session is over. Although the actual implementation of each of these ideas takes place after the training session, many of them require you to prepare them during the session.
>>> Create a LinkedIn Group (WeChat in China): After an educational event, create a group with the course title and post discussion thread questions. You might ask learners to read and comment on an article or website. To encourage participation, you can play it with the highest score or win something. Provide a leaderboard.
>>> Twitter Review: Conclude the session by informing the group of a specific Twitter hashtag. Ask them to log into their Twitter accounts and, in 140 characters or less, share one key point they learned from the session by posting a tweet that includes the selected hashtag. Ask them to review the main points of others. Retweet or “favor” some of the learners’ posts to encourage them to follow each other.
>>> Follow-up: Share your follow-up materials and enrichment exercises by tweeting on links or websites.
>>> Introducing Experts: Invite learners to follow specific thought leaders on the topic.
>>> Meet Me: Schedule a time to meet with the learners after the session so that you can clarify the material, answer questions, and provide additional one-on-one support. Use tools like Google Video Hangouts, Skype, Hipchat, or FaceTime. Mark the days and times you are available and announce your schedule.
>>> Mobile in time: Mobile learning allows you to pair a small but important data point with a skill check, resulting in fast communication with learners. This accomplishes several things. It provides the learner with content, allows the learner to update you, and maintains the relationship between you and the learner. After the learning session, use a script to provide timely follow-up reminders or statements. This means that you also need to know when each person can use the content. For example, after “How to Conduct a Performance Review Class,” you can provide a list of tips a week before you schedule the performance reviews.
>>> Establish just-in-time support: Ideally, mobile learning provides timely performance or required knowledge support, such as an updated policy, job assistance, or short communication skill.
>>> FOLLOW: Support learners once they are back on the job by using Twitter to ask them what they need, or provide a recommended reading list. Help learners manage the 140 character limit by providing the origin of the sentence so that they can complete the idea. For example, “One of the things I worry about is performance reviews . . . ”
>>> Send good wishes: Tweeting ‘good luck’ before a big meeting or presentation would be appreciated.
>>> Flip the charts: Participants often collect ideas on paper plates in small groups. Take pictures of each chart and upload the pictures to a file storage service like Google Drive or simply post them to your group’s LinkedIn page. Send the link to learners after the session.
>>> Check out the book: Good book recommendation. The list is better. Create a virtual library containing all recommended titles and reviews. This is easier than you think by creating a Shelfari account linked to Amazon. Send the link to the participants so they can check out the resources after the session.
This list will get you started on your way to using social tools to ensure learning transfer. There are hundreds of social tools available to use. Make sure to try each tool and network with your colleagues to get to know others.
Set clear goals and expectations
Your job as a manager is to get the big things done in your organization by utilizing the talent, abilities, and mental and muscle strength of your employees. In short, to get a lot of your work done as a manager, you have to delegate a lot of work, and you need to be able to rely on the people you delegate to do so.
When you delegate work to an employee, it is not enough to just do a task and hope for the best. You should also set clear goals and expectations for your employees. When employees aren’t sure what exactly they’re supposed to do and when they’re supposed to do it, they won’t be able to meet your expectations—whatever they are. However, when you are crystal clear about what you want your employees to do and when you want it to, your employees can prioritize their work to ensure they meet deadlines. This approach provides a great learning opportunity for them to take on new or different projects as well.
Work with your employees in setting goals and expectations. The goals must be realistic, and you must ensure that your employees are convinced of them and are committed to achieving them. By making your employees a part of the goal-setting process, you not only get their vital input into the goals (eg, you may not be aware of a deadline conflict), but you also increase employee engagement.

Do not play favorites
Think back to your school years. Was someone in your class a teacher’s pet? If you were a teacher’s pet, you likely enjoyed the position. However, if you do not hold this coveted position, you are probably not happy that your teacher played favorite games with one or more of your classmates.
The same is true in the workplace. Nobody likes a manager who plays a favorite role with certain employees. Of course, people naturally like some people better than others – personal chemistry simply prefers some relationships over others. However, as a manager, your job is to be as impartial and fair as possible in how you treat your employees. You can’t punish an employee you don’t like and then forgive an employee you love. You can’t give your preferred employees raises, vacations, bonuses, and other rewards when employees you don’t like show the same performance or achieve the same goals or milestones.
Employees know when a manager is playing a preferred role—they can sense it a mile away. Treat all of your employees like the employees you would prefer.

Be a good role model
Research shows that the most important relationship at work is between employees (at any level) and their immediate supervisors or managers. As a manager, you are a role model for all employees who work for you, and you influence the behavior of your colleagues and colleagues. The example you set sends a clear message about the kinds of behavior that you personally find acceptable in the workplace. If you are chronically late for work, your employees will assume that being late for work is OK, and that they will be late, too. If you are not ethical in your business dealings with customers, customers, and suppliers, your employees will assume that they also do not have to act ethically.
Model the behavior you want from your employees, and they will mirror that behavior directly to you.

Remember you get what you rewarded
Managers are often surprised when an employee exhibits a certain behavior or achieves a particular goal that is completely different from what is intended. When that’s the case, you need to take a closer look at exactly what behavior you’re rewarding. For example, you might tell your employees that you want them to make suggestions to cut costs. However, when an employee presents an idea, you either ignore it completely or chew it up in front of their peers for having such a ‘dumb idea’. In this case, instead of rewarding employees for submitting ideas, you are punishing them for it. You can bet that employees will think twice before presenting an idea to you again for consideration.
Catch your employees doing something right. This approach works especially well for managers who want to focus on getting things done. Simply add the names of the people who inform you to your weekly to-do list. Then cross it off when you are able to praise these employees—because you catch them “doing something right” according to their performance goals.
Although money is important to employees, what motivates them to perform – and to perform at higher levels – is the thoughtful and personal type of recognition that demonstrates true appreciation for work that has been done well. This recognition also builds trust and a collaborative relationship, which leads to higher levels of employee engagement.
Get to know your people
You may have been told not to get too close to the people you supervise because it undermines your authority and makes it difficult for you to get your employees to do what you want them to do. This old management philosophy is now officially obsolete. Using raw power to get employees to do what you want them to do is get out. Instead, you should involve employees in decision-making and involve them in their jobs. When you do, they want to achieve the goals you set together.
You might not invite your employees to your home for the holidays, but there is nothing wrong with getting to know them as people. In fact, you can gain a lot by establishing normal relationships with your employees. These benefits may include increased levels of trust and loyalty, better communication, and higher performance.

Learn how to delegate
Delegation is the most powerful tool at any manager’s disposal – it’s the way managers get work done. Delegation is a win-win business. When you delegate, others do a lot of the day-to-day work of the organization, giving you the freedom to manage, plan, and take on more complex work, with the potential to earn a higher salary. As your employees develop a wider range of skills, they will be ready to rise with you. This partnership builds trust, enhances your career potential, and improves the health of your organization.
Effective delegation involves more than just asking someone to do something. It includes mutual consultation and agreement between the manager and team members. Ask for team members’ feedback and ideas, thus bringing trust, support, and open communication to the process.

Encourage teamwork
Smart managers realize that they can get much more out of their organizations when employees cooperate with each other than if they compete against each other. Many tasks are now performed through teamwork, and organizations are changing the way they work. Organizations no longer measure employees solely by their individual contributions; They also consider how effective employees are as contributing members of their work teams.
As a manager, you want to encourage teamwork in your organization. Carefully evaluate work tasks and decide whether it makes sense to assign them to individuals or to teams of employees. Reward your employees when they demonstrate good teamwork skills – every business needs more of these skills.

Communication, communication, communication
Good managers are skilled at communicating with their employees, and they do so often and by all means at their disposal. As a new manager, make time every day to connect with your employees. Walk around the work area to casually meet with employees and discuss current projects or clients. Stay in touch with employees through emails or phone calls. Hold regular employee meetings to discuss current opportunities and issues and to keep employees abreast of the latest company events. Create a Facebook section blog or fan page to enable discussions within your organization. Over-communication is definitely better than under-communication.

Be a coach
A good coach helps employees perform at a higher level, in the same way that a baseball, soccer, or soccer coach helps athletes perform at a higher level. Business coaches do this by giving advice on how to perform better, providing valuable feedback, and supporting the people they coach. They help employees gain confidence, and they praise their efforts when employees are making progress toward completing a goal. As a manager, you are in an ideal position to train people in your department or other organizational unit. Let them see that you are human. If you are friendly (and not seen as perfect), your employees will find that you are more honest, which leads to a better working relationship.