Interview – Training reinforcement and its challenges

We’ve spoken to Dr. Raymond Jambaya, Lead Consultant for Learning Technologies at People Potential, about the importance of training reinforcement and his experience in consulting.  

He shared with us how the right training reinforcement strategy can lead to great results and what challenges organisations face in making this happen.

Let’s dive in.

How long have you been involved in the work on training reinforcement?

A fair bit. I have been in this field since 2006 and have become particularly attached to Knowledge Management and Reinforcement. Why train at all, if we can’t make it stick?

What made you move from academia to consulting? And how has it been for you so far?

It was mostly to see if the conceptual world of academia answers real-world practical issues. I’ve found that they are complementary and to do one requires the other. The push to consulting was seamless. Academia tends to be reactive to the realities of business, but in consulting, I’m enjoying being in the middle of the storm, solving hot button issues in real time. One such hot button is resolving training effectiveness and increasing post-training applications for a variety of programmes.

Which was the most interesting project you’ve been involved in?

Most projects and clients are exciting because they bring something new or dynamic to chew over. Here’s a recent case. A group of senior professionals were trained to improve their proposal presentations to the board of the company. The data from the Behaviour Change System indicated a high degree of post-training applications, but the client reported not seeing visible behavioural changes from the participants.

We had to re-visit the reinforcement design to understand why those behaviours were not visible despite data showing otherwise. What we found was that the participants did not have an adequate process to validate whether they were applying the new knowledge and skills correctly. Because of this, their presentations remained too technical for their board.  

The fact that they had been practicing their pitches with colleagues from their own department wasn’t conducive for testing clarity and simplicity. So we tweaked the reinforcement programme to include activities that were related to presenting to individuals who were unfamiliar with their department’s jargon and area of expertise.  

This cycle was repeated three times over 8 weeks, yielding excellent results. The client observed much better internal presentations and even requested for the programme to be extended to other staff members.

What’s the biggest challenge or surprise you’ve had when working with clients?

I’ve discovered that many organisations don’t make a credible effort to measure whether their training programmes lead to behaviour change (Kirkpatrick’s Level 3 evaluation). Even though their HR/L&D teams usually seem keen to take on this task, they either don’t have sufficient support from top management or are too consumed with processing Level 1 and Level 2 evaluations.

On the other hand, I’ve also found a small minority who are very clued up on the challenges that can define them as professionals in ten years. They are the ones who drive the measurement of post-training applications in their organisations. But the problem they faced was the lack of a robust technology to track and measure Level 3 evaluations.

Which problem is The Reinforcement Revolution addressing?

There is now an influx of e-learning and gamification tools that aim to make learning more engaging. This is certainly a step in the right direction, and many organisations are grappling with implementing those tools effectively.

However, this can create an environment littered with tech noise about learning, without getting to the heart of the matter, i.e. producing actual behaviour change. The reinforcement revolution addresses the challenge of helping HR and L&D professionals to increase post-training behaviour change in a cost-efficient and sustainable manner.

In your opinion, how will this impact organisations?

Let’s put it this way: The forgetting curve is real. You can have the best trainer, the best training material, and pay big bucks for the training, but so what? It means nothing to the organisation if the training is only applied in the first few days and then forgotten. The heart of the reinforcement revolution is to ensure that new knowledge and skills are consistently applied so that the organisation sustainably reaps the reward of its training investments.

If you could describe The Reinforcement Revolution in one sentence, what would that be?

It’s a platform for serious L&D and HR professionals to enhance post-training applications and validate behaviour change with data.


training reinforcement

Raymond is an experienced Industrial Psychologist and HR Practitioner with a deep interest in organisational development, innovation, and knowledge management. He is the Lead Consultant on Learning Technologies (Behaviour Change) at People Potential, responsible for the content design and administering of post-training behaviour change programmes through a mobile reinforcement app. A regular presenter at professional platforms and avid researcher, Dr. Raymond Jambaya’s expertise comes from having held various executive positions in telcos and energy sector organisations.