Addressing the 5 Training Reinforcement Gaps

Just because someone completed training doesn’t mean they’ll be able to remember and apply the knowledge and skills they learned. 

The traditional view of training is that it covers the event itself—the course material presented in the training meeting, whether that’s instructor-led in person or virtually, or a self-guided training. However, learning and development professionals should expand their definition of training to include everything that happens during and after your training event. 

For your training to be effective, your learners must have the tools they need to change their behavior, which can be provided through a training reinforcement program. To achieve behavior change and increase productivity, you’ll need to help your learners close the most common reinforcement gaps after training has ended.

Understanding the 5 Reinforcement Gaps

When designing your reinforcement program, you need to account for the five major reinforcement gaps:

  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Motivation
  • Environment
  • Communication

Closing the Knowledge Gap

The knowledge gap is closed when learners are provided with enough information to understand the material. After all, they need to understand what they’ve learned before they can apply it. 

The knowledge gap is often closed during classroom training. When building your reinforcement program, evaluate if learners received what they needed from the training by including knowledge check questions and surveys.

Closing the Skills Gap

Bridging the skills gap is essential because learning the information doesn’t necessarily translate to being able to implement the training. 

The skills gap is often closed during classroom training and results from learners having the information they need to know how to do the skills they’re being asked to perform.

Once you’ve closed the knowledge gap, ensure that your learners can transfer this into real-life applications through scenario-based questions incorporated into the reinforcement program.

The next three reinforcement gaps aren’t usually closed through in-classroom training.

Closing the Motivation Gap

The motivation gap is closed by presenting your learners with the right information at the right time during a comprehensive reinforcement program. Your team needs to be passionate to be productive—they need to know why this learning matters at each step. Make sure you always provide the answer to “Why?” in your training reinforcement program. Otherwise, you might send the right information at the wrong time, and inadvertently decrease your learners’ motivation to change.

Closing the Environment Gap

The environment gap is closed by providing learners with a supportive, learning-driven atmosphere. To achieve their greatest productivity level, your learners need a work environment that promotes the concept that failure leads to learning. 

Your organization's culture of learning should encourage the advancement of knowledge and skills, along with taking the time to practice applying them. It’s important that you’re creating opportunities for your learners to reach their training goals faster.

Closing the Communication Gap

A productive organization communicates regularly. The communication gap is closed by concisely and frequently communicating training goals to your learners and checking in with them periodically. 

Include processes, timelines, and directions in your reinforcement program so that all learners understand how to effectively change their behaviors. Also, consider including a behavioral assessment at multiple points throughout training reinforcement for learners to communicate their progress over time.

All of this information will set you on the right path to effective training reinforcement. However, without a dedicated learning technology, it’s likely that only two of the five reinforcement gaps are successfully closed: Knowledge and Skills. 

Interested in learning more about reinforcement gaps? Download The Science Behind Mindmarker eBook to learn more about the Mindmarker methodology.

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