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From Learning Settings to Performance Settings: The Psychological Challenges of Training Transfer Andy MolinskyJoshua Margolis Brandeis UniversityHarvard.

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Presentation on theme: "From Learning Settings to Performance Settings: The Psychological Challenges of Training Transfer Andy MolinskyJoshua Margolis Brandeis UniversityHarvard."— Presentation transcript:

1 From Learning Settings to Performance Settings: The Psychological Challenges of Training Transfer Andy MolinskyJoshua Margolis Brandeis UniversityHarvard University

2 Three Cases of Training Transfer Managers learning to conduct layoff conversations Pediatric medical students and residents learning to perform procedures on children and deliver bad news Russian immigrant job seekers learning to interview for jobs in the United States

3 Managers Context –Fortune 500 company, planned layoff of 150 workers Training Method –Classroom sessions, simulated encounters Data –21 interviews (line managers and HR managers) –Archival documents (materials presented at training sessions) –3 key informants

4 Russian Immigrant Job Seekers Context –Recent immigrants from FSU attempting to find jobs in the U.S. Training Method –Classroom sessions, simulated encounters Data –Observation of 5 classroom training sessions –Participant observation at 145 mock interview sessions (as interviewer) –8 interviews about cultural differences in interviewing behavior

5 Medical Students and Residents Context –Major metropolitan pediatric teaching hospital Training Method –Classroom sessions, simulated encounters, training while doing Data –22 interviews (6 medical students, 8 residents, 8 senior physicians) –Weekly diaries during pediatric rotation (7 medical students) –2 key informants

6 A Potential Paradox? Learning settings facilitate skill development by offering trainees a safe setting for experimenting with new interpersonal skills. However, in doing so, might learning settings also deprive trainees of a realistic preview of the more difficult, stressful, ambiguous conditions under which they will have to use these skills in the workplace?

7 Self-EfficacyIdentity ProfessionalismImage ThreatSource Threat Domain Private CharacterCompetence Public

8 Self-efficacy under threat Trainees feel anxious, lost, incompetent because the task is less predictable/more difficult to handle in the performance setting and the stakes are higher.

9 Self-efficacy threat - Illustrations “I'm feeling really uncomfortable. I haven't done this before. I'm nervous about it… you have an hour class on, ‘These are legally what you can say. This is how you escort them’ -- like the mechanics of it, but not really how to handle the emotion of it.” [Manager] “I felt much less confident in what I was doing. And when one feels much less confident than sort of two things happen. One, it's harder to focus on the procedure itself, so you think more about sort of your own level of uncomfortableness with the situation. It sort of can get cloudy because you get more nervous. If you're nervous to begin with and things aren't going quite right, it's harder for you to keep control of the situation.” [Doctor] “I didn’t understand what she was saying, I felt lost, asked her to say it again, and finally was able to guess what her question was when I understood a few words. I felt very confused because I couldn’t understand her. I felt extremely nervous because of that.” [Russian]

10 Professionalism under threat Trainees feel concerned that evaluative others see them as incompetent when attempting to execute newly trained behaviors in the performance setting– unable to complete the task effectively and hide their emotion.

11 Professionalism threat - Illustrations “The game is being externally a lot more comfortable with the situation than you are internally... Internally, there’s a nervous stomach, you feel on edge. Sometimes you get physically nauseous or headache… there is a degree of nervousness that almost makes you have to step back and say, “I have to be calm. I can’t show that I am nervous about delivering this message.” [Manager] “I was more worried about what her mother must be thinking in the sense that, if she sees her daughter in more pain, she’s probably going to be even more curious of why I should be the one doing this. And I didn’t want her to I guess lose confidence in me.” [Doctor] “I do try to act differently, but despite my efforts, I look pathetic, right? Me interviewing is a pathetic spectacle.” [Russian]

12 Identity under threat Managers and doctors feel distressed and guilty about having a negative impact on another person’s livelihood. Russians feel distressed and guilty about acting with an interpersonal style in an American interview that is inconsistent with their own style.

13 Identity threat - Illustrations “I really took it personally, like if it was my personal failure that I had to deliver this message to these people. Somehow if we had done something different maybe we could figure out a way to save their jobs.” [Manager] “I felt extreme pity for the patient, and felt awful for putting him through what I considered unnecessary pain.” [Doctor] “It’s hard for me to come to an interview and to tell people how wonderful I am, to praise myself, to say that I am the greatest thing in the world Saying these things makes me so uncomfortable; my whole being revolts against it. One has to make a great effort to suppress one's own nature; it's extremely difficult to do.” [Russian]

14 Image under threat Managers and doctors feel embarrassed or ashamed that the image they project as someone who causes pain or harm to another person Russians feel embarrassed or ashamed that they project the image of someone in an American interview who, they believe, is a dishonest and aggressive person

15 Image threat - Illustrations “Their world was just destroyed in an instant. They are a new grandmother, their daughter is expecting…They don’t think about what I am going through. I am the no good bastard.” [Manager] “I was feeling bad that I was hurting her. I was feeling a little sort of embarrassed and ashamed that it didn’t go the way I’d promised the family it would go… I just sort of feel them thinking, “You’ve been lying – you lied to us. This is much worse than we expected. This is really brutal.” [Doctor] “I have difficulties selling myself. It goes against my nature… I feel guilty for lying and have this heavy burden and a feeling that I am committing a crime against my own personality. I am also afraid that the interviewer can see on my face that I am not sincere.” [Russian]

16 Learning vs. Performance Settings Aspect of SituationLearning settingPerformance setting Other person’s behaviorControlled and scriptedUncontrolled and unscripted Other person’s emotional expression SimulatedAuthentic Possibility for trainee to “escape” the situation Yes: “Do-over’s” or “time-out’s” encouraged No (not without significant costs) FeedbackClear and constructiveUncertain and ambiguous Consequences of performing poorly Loss of face Harm to performer (e.g., reputation, feelings of self-worth) Harm to other person (e.g. medical situation or layoff situation ) AudienceTypically supportive (peers and trainer) Uncertain (may be supportive, neutral, or unsupportive) Situational frameExperimentation, practice, playPerformance (or else…)

17 Summary statements By the very way in which it’s structured, a learning setting protects/makes safe/nurtures a trainee’s sense of competence and character. Competence and character are subsequently exposed, or made vulnerable, in the performance setting, leading to a series of self- threats and elicited (negative) emotion that can interfere with task performance. Learning settings therefore enable individuals to focus directly on learning new skills and behaviors, but at the same time might deprive them of the opportunity to develop the skills necessary for coping with the distinctive challenges of using these skills in the evaluative, unprotected atmosphere of the real-world.

18 Study 2: Your Help Research Opportunity –Professional services firm (100,000 employees) –“Boot Camp” training for college grads and experienced hires + ongoing, ad-hoc training –Training in performance feedback, coaching, leadership, etc. Your Ideas About: –Developing a Study 2 to test/refine/elaborate upon Study 1

19 Thank you!

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