Setting Up a Results-Oriented Training Program
By Carol Rovello, MA, SPHR
Have you ever been in a training program and wondered if there was a point? You may have even sat there, calculating the costs and wishing you had spent that money for something that would have contributed more directly to the bottom line.
Your training programs should have a direct link to your business strategy so they can help you improve the profitability of your company. It is possible to design and redesign training programs so that they more directly contribute to your company’s success. By following the basic steps of training design, you can help your company get a better return on its training investment.
Whether you are orienting new employees, helping employees improve performance deficiencies, or preparing seasoned employees for changing responsibilities, you can identify basic competencies (knowledge and skills) that will help these employees to be successful. Some employees come to you fully prepared to meet all work challenges. For the other employees who are willing and able, there is training.
To develop a results-oriented training program, follow these basic steps:
1. Identify your organization's training goals. Why should you spend valuable resources taking your employees off the job?
Review your company’s performance indicators and results to determine what areas need improvement. Each industry and company is different, but some examples of performance indicators are error rates, quality standards, customer satisfaction, percent of repeat business, etc. You probably already evaluate the attainment of performance goals, but you may not have thought of this information as a key contributor to your training design.
Your training program goals should be quantified so that you can measure their attainment. An example of a training goal: “Training XYZ will result in a five percent decrease in the reporting error rate.”
2. Conduct a needs assessment. What do your employees need to improve in order to meet performance goals and positively impact your organization’s performance?
Compare the desired competencies (required knowledge and skills) to your employees’ actual competencies to determine their training needs. Evaluating previous training programs to identify the ones that had the best results can also be useful in preparing for step number 3.
3. Develop a training plan. What approach will best help your employees learn the information and skills they need?
The training plan should include the participant objectives. These are the measurable outcomes that will result from participation in the training, e.g. “Upon completion of this program, the participants will be able to safely monitor the main control panel.”
For each major training topic, identify the basic information and/or skills to be learned, the training method(s), the materials/media to be used, and the amount of time needed. Training methods can include presentation, experiential activities, small group discussion, hands-on activities/practice, viewing of a video, etc. Some training topics are very well suited to web-based learning. Thorough planning helps you to make the best use of everyone’s time and company resources. As part of planning, think about how your will assess participant learning and evaluate the effectiveness of the training program and create your assessment/evaluation tools.
Consider the following basic principles of learning as you develop your training plan:
Learners who are motivated will master subjects faster. Help your employees understand the importance of the training program and the relationship between it and their job.
Learning will be retained longer if it is directly related to the job. Make the training real.
Material that is understood is retained better than when it is learned by rote memorization. Include activities that allow the learners to demonstrate their ability to apply the knowledge/skills to their jobs.
Practice that is spaced over several periods is more effective than one long practice period. It’s usually hard to take employees off of the job for long periods anyway, so this has a double benefit.
The order in which information/skills are taught is very important. Since initial information/skills often serve as the foundation for those which are more advanced, it is important to consider the sequence of the training.
People like to know how they are doing. Constructive feedback (both positive and negative) helps employees to have a realistic view regarding their progress and it provides them with a sense of accomplishment.
People learn differently. If you vary your training methods, you will give all of your employees the best chance at being successful.
The training design is only the first step in the process. How you actually conduct your training program also greatly affects the benefit that your company will derive from it. Hopefully, this article has piqued your interest in taking a closer look at your approach to training and in rethinking the impact that it could have on your company’s profitability.
Carol Rovello is the President of Strategic Workplace Solutions. She helps organizations align human resource initiatives with business operations, anticipate and resolve HR challenges, and institute the structure needed to support organizational change.