7 Questions for Effective Training Programs

Training is often seen as the solution to the problem. But its success usually depends upon which problem needs to be solved. Sometimes training can provide exactly what is needed for your workforce. But sometimes it can’t. Asking - and answering - these questions will help to focus your efforts and ultimately implement the right solution for your organization.

1. What problem needs to be solved?

Before building a training program, take a logical approach and start with a careful analysis of the reasons why the training needs to be built. First identifying the desired drivers and outcomes will help to focus the end goal. This may even include how the return on investment can be measured, or at least evaluated. Define and list which areas of the organization need to receive the benefits resulting from the training and identify the desired outcomes. Are you trying to change behavior? Is the goal to drive business impact? Is there a portion of the organization that needs new skills? Is the objective to impact the culture of the organization? Drive more sales? Improve customer relations? Being able to describe clearly and succinctly the objectives to be accomplished is a critical first step in designing any training program.

2. Who are the recipients of the training?

There is an old cliché that says the best speakers know their audience. It’s the same with developing effective training programs. Implementing a "basics" course for seasoned employees is only going to drive poor course ratings and grumblings among learners. The nature of the audience must be evaluated and defined in advance. Have they already had the basics? Are there more or less employees to be trained on this topic now than there were six months ago? How much tenure does this group have within the organization? Are they dispersed or centralized? It is crucial to research and understand the personal characteristics and demographics of the target audience.

3. What is the "look and feel" of the training?

While incorporating the organization’s logo and brand into training content is nice, creating consistent formatting and layouts across multiple training courses helps to convey the culture to learners. Like an architect who ensures a building’s blueprints are precise before breaking ground, each course’s "blueprint" must be in place before implementation, and then that information transfer must occur in a consistent way from course to course, from learner to learner – regardless of the mode by which it is delivered. Learners should not have to "relearn" how to take a course each time a learning opportunity arises.

4. What are the standards and best practices for learning within the organization?

Like defining the "blueprint" for the transfer of information, the training program’s standards and best practices should be documented for the organization. This helps to create a cohesive training program and provides course authors with a "playbook" when they are creating training material. It also saves time if numerous authors are utilized, reducing the effort involved to reformat and edit materials developed by different people. These guidelines quickly become the go-to resource whenever new courses are added or existing courses are updated.

5. What is the organization’s standard and repeatable approach?

Along with creating the playbook, develop a repeatable approach that can be put into practice for each new training initiative. Ensuring that learners are instructed in the same manner will also help with measuring and documenting the training results. Removing variables such as language barriers or content structure can do wonders toward helping learners retain information. It can also reduce, in part, the need for additional instructional sessions to reinforce that learning.

6. What impact can be built into the training program?

To say that training is difficult to measure is an understatement. It can be downright impossible! Particularly if the training focuses on soft skills, managerial skills, or some compliance requirements (such as sexual harassment prevention), identifying and creating metrics around a training program’s outcomes is challenging. However, it’s not likely that senior management will stop asking for metrics anytime soon. So designing the measurable results from the beginning will help to prevent panic down the road. Create course evaluations that provide the organization with real insight into the learners’ impressions. Was the course engaging? Did the content have enough depth? How much of the content was already known by the learners before the course began? Don’t be afraid to ask in-depth questions!

7. Who can help?

ADEPTCentral can help. Our goal is to assist individuals and organizations as they take the important, yet necessary, steps to successfully plan, develop and implement training initiatives. We are the leader in e-learning strategic services. Our goal is to help improve your organization and help your training program achieve its goals. With experience across a variety of industries, our team is among the most knowledgeable and has proven expertise in creating learning strategies. ADEPTCentral’s services are founded in the solid theories of organizational design, instructional design and behavior. We are passionate about what we do and are focused on one thing: giving our clients all the knowledge and insight they need to design and implement smarter learning solutions. We can help you make a difference in your organization.

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