Designing Your Training Program-Part 1
When you start out to designing your training program, there are a number of things to consider. This is not about what the content is or what types of training should be delivered, what is the best method to train in your situation. This section is about all of those and none of those. In this post we will talk about several consideration when developing your training program. The thoughts here are general in nature so not all will apply to your situation. If you have other things you have encountered please add to the conversation to help others out.
First consideration: What is my company’s plan for training?
In a perfect world every company would have a plan written down for what they want their training program to accomplish, what the resources are that are dedicated to the end, how they want to achieve their training goals, what/how many personnel will be assigned to the task and they will measure success. Few of us live in a perfect world. For most of us we have to work within a world of partial and incomplete information. Here are some thoughts to help those living in a world where you have to design a training program.
Work with your executive team to outline the goals for training. If they have never done this before, you may need to hold their hands and guide them through this process.
Setting training goals would start with a Needs Assessment. A well-constructed and administered needs assessment will help uncover strengths and areas for potential improvement. Remember that not all areas for improvement call for formal training – some can be resolved by changes in processes or procedures.
Goal setting is one of the areas where you will need to address in some fashion ROI (Return On Investment). Unfortunately, training is one of the first areas that gets cut in a budgeting process because there is no immediate or obvious measure for what a company gets for every dollar they spend on training. Here are some ideas to measure ROI for your training program.
For more information about goal setting for training programs, here is a plan to get you started Setting Training Goals.
When setting training goals, also remember to include plans for future growth. You probably won’t know these. This is part of why this portion of developing a training program should be done in conjunction with the executive team.
Second consideration: Training Resources
We started this conversation training goals because goals dictate most of the other training considerations. The first of those is resources needed to provide quality training. Every training situation is different – for some having a white board with markers that work more than enough to be successful. Other situations need a full computer lab with a training environment version of the software loaded for each participant.
From the goals you are given, determine what the participants need to be successful. Take into account different learning styles, space requirements, and technical needs. Some people learn best by doing while others would rather listen and take notes. It varies somewhat based upon the skill and/or knowledge being learned but there are usually some common themes.
In the past I have given software trainings where the participants not only didn’t have a computer to work on, they barely had room to write. It was not what I would call an optima learning situation. Remember that even though you probably won’t get everything you ask for but you will (hopefully) get at least some of it.
Third consideration: Training Personnel
Goals will (again) dictate how many people and what the tasks are for the training department. I have seen very good training departments with a single person. I have also seen less successful training departments with more staff than they could keep busy. The number of people is less important than their knowledge of their function in the training plan and what the program should accomplish.
It isn’t unusual for training to be contracted out which reduces the long-term cost but still provide high value training. Ours is only one of several companies that will develop specialized training to fit the specific needs of a company. Many will like us be happy to talk to you about your training needs and see if we are the best fit or if you would be better off with another solution
Some training may be available from local colleges or universities. While less flexible in dates and material delivered, colleges and universities may be the solution for long term training.
Fourth consideration: Measuring Success
We will cover evaluating in great specifics in a future post so this is a brief version. Evaluation of a training should not be an afterthought. Standards for both the manner of evaluation and reporting should be established before a training is ever administered. Finding out if your training was successful is a good way to show ROI to the executives.
Next time we will talk about considerations for methods of training to include in your training design.