6 Important Questions to Consider When Developing Staff Training

When engaging a training provider or developing an internal program to train employees, it is essential that the initiative hits the mark. Training is an investment in people and so it must be set up to achieve a return for the organisation. Too many training initiatives miss the mark, don’t achieve the desired outcome or don’t have the right measurement in place. The outcome of this is that senior leaders don’t see the value and as a result, training budgets are reduced. This is an understandable reaction, but it is the wrong outcome if an organisation is to prosper. Here are six key questions to consider when developing training for an organisation.

1. What outcomes are you looking for? 

As with anything you are trying to achieve: start with the end in mind. What is your main goal? For examples, are you looking to:

      – Increase Sales
      – Improve Management Capability
      – Improve Leadership Capability
.     – Develop Successors for the Future
      – Improve Upon Staff Retention

Remember, training is an investment and with any investment you are looking for a return, which I will touch on more later.

2. What role will training play in delivering outcomes?

Traditional classroom training should never be conducted as an isolated activity. There should also be other forms of learning, such as practical activities, feedback and coaching. This should be ongoing rather than a point in time. Further to this are other activities that are supporting your goal.These are just a few questions that need to be asked to ensure the training is not conducted in a vacuum:

.    – Do your performance measurement and reward mechanisms align to the training?
.    – If so, do they need to?
     – Do you have processes that conflict with the training?
.    – How important is training to senior leaders?

3. To what extent does training need to be tailored towards your business?

Some training doesn’t need any tailoring at all, whilst some needs to be highly customised to suit the business. So an important question to address early on is- Do you need to get respected and knowledgeable employees involved in the development and delivery of the training? If you are wondering why you would do this- it can make a difference in terms of the message landing with other employees. Training is not just about learning new things, it can be a change management exercise in its own right.

4. How will blended learning be used to engage people AND How will it be integrated into business as usual?

It is becoming reasonably standard these days to use the 70:20:10 rule (made famous by Lombardo and Eichinger). That is that 10% of the learning should take place in courses and reading, 20% should be feedback and coaching and 70% is on-the-job learning . If you think about this in real terms, that means for every day of classroom training, that is 32 x half hours of coaching and 56 hours of practical application. So the training should be relevant enough to provide ample opportunity to demonstrate it in the workplace, as well as being something that is worthwhile discussing during coaching sessions. This is why the role of the direct line manage is so important and that if they are not also champions of the training, it is unlikely to stick.

5. What is the agenda and approach of the training?

It is right to expect that anyone touting themselves as a learning professional will develop a training session plan that gives adults the best chance to learn? It is wrong to assume this is the case? A Certificate IV or Diploma in Training and Assessment provides excellent tools for helping trainers develop and deliver programs effectively but just because someone has this qualification, doesn’t mean they are applying it to its full extent.
When selecting a learning professional for training, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind. When analyzing a session plan it is important to identify – how a trainer engaged with participants, whether they created opportunities for participants to demonstrate their learning and if they successfully coached and provided feedback to participants. Their session should also prove to respect the fact that people have different learning styles. Also, identify the activities and learning that is meant to take place before and after the session? A popular model that can be used as a framework or guide for making sure all considerations are addressed for an effective training session is-  Robert Gagne’s Nine Steps of Instruction. 

6. What methods will be used to assess the effectiveness of training?

A lot of companies conduct training and use the standard “happy sheets” to gauge their success, which basically looks at whether people enjoyed the training or not. This is not sufficient because most people like sitting in a room with their colleagues, going through a few exercises, receiving a free lunch and being paid for the privilege.
 A better method that is widely known is the Kirkpatrick model, which has four stages of measurement which looks at the:

.      – Participants Reaction
.      – Learning (increased knowledge)
.      – Behaviour (how people demonstrate learning)
.      – Results (the impact on the business as a result)

This concept is being taken further even still by Jack and Patti Phillips who look at a ROI (return on investment) model for HR initiative (including training). The model has similar characteristics to the Kirkpatrick model, but the final result is an actual percentage ROI, similar to the model used for other business investments.
The important part of measuring the effectiveness of training is to have measures that make sense to whoever it is you are reporting the results to – even if it is just yourself.

Disclaimer: The information contained within this article is based on our best knowledge and we believe all facts to be true at the time of writing.  We take no responsibility for any application of this information, as it does not constitute legal advice (and should not be taken as such).

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