Gagne’s event number nine: What will you do back on the job?

Did you know that I can predict the future? I can, really.  Here’s what I will predict.  The next time you conduct a training program, ask the learners at the end of the final day what they commit to do differently back on the job.

Here is what will happen.  One learner after another will say something like, “I liked the part where you talked about how important it is to send an agenda before a sales call,” or “I enjoyed the discussion about overcoming objections on the telephone.” Are you listening carefully?  No one ever says, “When I get back on the job I’m committed to now ask the Six Killer Questions that we practiced yesterday,” but that is exactly what you’re hoping for, isn’t it?

So today we have Gagne’s ninth and final event of instruction:  enhancing retention and transferring the learning back to the job.  It may be the most important of all the events because it ensures that the investment in the training pays off. 

This investment is considerable and I worry about it all the time. Here’s why.  If a client hires me to train their people, I’m sensitive that they have to pay for my services and out-of-pocket expenses, so it’s important for me to do a great job for them and that my effort causes a change in behavior. If not, I don’t eat.

There is also another larger expense for my client and that is the opportunity cost for taking salespeople off the line for a period of time to train them, as they could be out selling instead.  So for these two reasons, the training had better work.

If you are a trainer, what do you do now to provide for learner retention and a transfer of the content to the job?  The generally accepted method is a “learning contract” wherein training says “we will train your people to do this and that, and you in turn promise to manage to these new behaviors.”

If you don’t have this kind of agreement, you run the risk that if behavior doesn’t change, management may say that “the training didn’t do us any good.” In my business I can’t afford to have that happen, so I become a professional nag.  I follow up with line management and ask them what they’re doing to ensure their team is engaging in the new skills on the job, and offer assistance in getting them to do so.

There are many approaches you can use as a sales manager to ensure transfer.  Here are just a few:

  • go on joint calls with your team and observe their behavior yourself, and coach
  • create a tool or job aid that the team must use to provide evidence that the new methods were used
  • arrange for skill practice or content review in your sales meetings. 

There are others, but you see the idea.  You must follow up, and not waste your investment.

This wraps up Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction and I hope you enjoyed exploring them with me, just as I enjoyed writing about them. For designers, these events are a great “audit” tool to ensure you covered every criterion. 

There will be no blog post on Tuesday as my newsletter goes out that day.  See you again back here on Friday. Meanwhile…

Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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