The Three Key Stakeholders for Learning Transfer

A Google search on measuring the impact of a training program will likely return several results. Most of the relevant approaches found will effectively integrate the training transfer focus of the Next-Level Manager (NLM), the Trainee and the Trainer.

You also need top-level support and there are other dynamics and stakeholders to consider. But, based on foundational contributions that have withstood the test of sustainment-related time we would suggest that aligning the roles and contributions of “the three key” stakeholders merits your focused attention.

The Levels of Learning Experiences

  • Level I (Reaction) – How did the learners feel about the learning event or experience?
  • Level 2 (Learning) – Did the learners learn anything during the event or experience?
  • Level 3 (Behavior Change) – Could the learning be tied to behavior change(s) post-training?
  • Level 4 (Results) – Did those behavior changes produce desirable results?

The Three Key Stakeholders

Next Level Manager

This is the immediate supervisor or manager of the Trainee on the learning journey. The NLM is a living, breathing, easy-to-access representative of top management for the Trainee. Imagine the NLM as a “light switch” of sorts. Assuming the formal learning experience is of high quality, the NLM can almost single-handedly turn on the switch, effectively facilitating application for results that truly matter; or they can turn off the switch, essentially eliminating any reasonable probability the Trainee will practice what is being preached


This is the individual who will engage with the formal learning directly, and then attempt to implement what was learned in a real-world setting for the express purpose of delivering targeted results. If, for whatever reason, the Trainee lacks the motivation to truly make that attempt, effective transfer is doomed. We’ve all been there! Consider a college course you were required to take. You didn’t want to take it; you had to take it. So, what happened? You endured! You went to class. You took the tests and wrote the papers. You studied for and completed the final exam, and you haven’t thought about or even applied what you learned since then. Often lost in the equation of training transfer is the fact that the Trainee must value skill mastery and be willing to practice and receive feedback in a live setting


This includes not only the person delivering the live or virtual message of the training, but also all who have played a role in designing and developing the experience. It stands to reason that if the training isn’t both relevant and engaging, the probability of transfer is substantially decreased


  1. Consider a training program your organization offers. On the scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), assess the transfer-alignment of the NLMs, targeted Trainees and Trainers.
  2. What action could you take to improve the degree of alignment for the offering identified?