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The 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness: How to Make Training Stick

An overview of the 12 levers of transfer effectiveness and how you can use them to make sure training sticks and skills get applied in the workplace.

The 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness: How to Make Training Stick
December 21, 2021
The 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness: How to Make Training Stick

What are the 12 levers for transfer effectiveness?

With the worrying statistic that less than 20 per cent of training is actually applied back in the workplace, learning transfer needs to be top priority for all L&D teams. So, what are the 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness, and how can they help? I spoke to the brains behind the levers, Dr Ina Weinbaeur-Heidel to get her insights.

“There are three areas which are important to make transfer happen: trainees, training design and the organisation,” Ina explains. Each area contains a number of levers, a total of 12 small steps, to help maximise the effectiveness of any training course.

Here’s an overview, with some guiding questions to help you reflect on your programmes and how you could boost transfer.


  • Transfer motivation - How can you ensure that participants have a strong desire to put into practice what they have learned?
  • Self-efficacy - How can you ensure that after training, participants believe in their ability to apply and master the skills they have acquired?
  • Transfer Volition - How can you help participants to develop the ability and willingness to persistently work on implementing their transfer plan?

Training design:

  • Clarity of expectations - How can you ensure participants know what to expect before the training and what is expected of them after?
  • Content relevance - How do you ensure that participants perceive the training is relevant and important to their day to day work?
  • Active practice - How can you ensure that the action that is aspired to is experienced, tried out, and practised as realistically as possible during training?
  • Transfer planning - How can you ensure that participants prepare in detail during the training to implement what they learn?


  • Application opportunities - How can you ensure participants have the opportunity, permission, assignment, and resources to apply what they have learned?
  • Personal transfer capacity – How can you help ensure that participants have enough time and capacity to apply what they have learned in their daily work?
  • Support from supervisor - How can you ensure that supervisors support, promote and demand the application of what the participants have learned?
  • Support from peers – What can you do to encourage participant’s colleagues to welcome transfer and support it?
  • Transfer expectations in the organisation – How can you ensure that participant’s application (or not) is urgent, attracts attention in the organisation and has positive (or negative) consequences?

The beauty of the system is that none of the steps are difficult. “That’s the magic behind it,” says Ina. “Making it easy for L&D professionals and training facilitators to make transfer work.” It’s about focusing on what Ina describes as “the easy tools”.

Listen to Ina Weinbaeur-Heidel discuss the 12 levers for transfer

How to avoid the pitfalls to transfer

Gain support from managers

Failing to secure support from managers has been one of the main stumbling blocks in getting learning to stick but the solutions can be as simple as asking learners questions like: “The minute you are back in work, what do you plan to do?”

Or addressing the organisation’s input by getting people to answer the questions “Who will help you with that?”

Ina explains that “many of our L&D professionals asked us, ‘How can I bring the supervisors on board? I’ve tried it for years, but it doesn’t work’,” says Ina. “I think the secret is to introduce easy tools.”

Tools to support transfer

At Stellar Labs, we’ve found that managers don’t necessarily know the right questions to ask, or when to ask them. Prompting managers to recognise the critical moments in the learning journey, and suggesting simple questions to ask is highly valuable.

When they’re given these useful prompts at the right time, managers are better able to support their learners to apply what they’ve learned. We see it as providing ‘scaffolding’ for the learning process. Our learning transfer platform provides the nudges and guidance that managers need to support their team’s learning (alongside a host of features that take people form knowing – to doing).

“That will make the difference between a well-designed learning platform and just a content library. They are two completely different things,” says Ina. “Everyone who thinks about working with a learning platform needs to ask: ‘Does it have this idea of transfer in mind? Does it have the levers in place? Does it use all the stuff we know from the behavioural sciences?’

Who is Dr Ina Weingbauer-Heidel?

As CEO of Austria’s Institute of Transfer Effectiveness, Ina’s mission is to take scientific findings and apply them in practice. She also brings her experience and enthusiasm to us here at Stellar Labs as a member of our research advisory board.

Ina made it her mission to seek out what she describes as the Holy Grail of transfer research – what it takes to make training really stick. Her aim was to find answers to questions that haunt every L&D team:

  • “How effective are my programmes?”
  • “Are we making a difference?”  
  • “Are we really changing people’s behaviour in the long run?”

The result of her research, was the 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness.

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