Five Steps to Any Training Process

Training is a key part of business growth and change. To help ensure that dollars are well spent, a company must choose their training programs wisely. When managing any training process, we recommend that company leaders work closely with functional department heads and Human Resources personnel in following a systematic approach to training. A good system will help attack training problems using a “rifle” approach, rather than a “shotgun” approach. The following are five generic steps or phases in the model that we as trainers simply call A.D.D.I.E. Follow these steps to build your training program, and you will increase your chances of assembling an effective program.

Analyzing the need, or performing a “needs assessment,” is crucial in identifying the information that must be addressed in the program. This is where we ask the question, “What do we want our employees to get out of the program?” A great way to complete this phase is to perform a “gap analysis” by comparing current results to the desired performance. Another way to perform this phase is to treat team members as stakeholders in the process, much like we treat customers. Get their help by asking for specifications for the training. After all, they know where they need help…particularly when it comes to delivering a better product or dealing with customers. This analysis is also useful in creating metrics that will help your organization gauge the effectiveness of the training. This phase is where training program objectives begin to take shape. If an organization performs the assessment phase without rigorous attention to details, money and time is wasted.

The design phase is where we link the needs assessment to the actual creation of new curriculum or the arrangement of existing curricula. This is where we assemble information tied to each program objective. From the needs analysis, we draw the blueprints of the training, based on the customer specifications. Remember, in this context, the customers that we are speaking of are your team members. If we design the training based on their needs, we get a better product. This is also the phase where we begin to think about the operational considerations of the program. Ask the question: How is the delivery of the program going to influence my business operations? The answer to this question will force functional managers to make decisions about how they will change operations in the interim to support the program. With regard to company operations, it is better to begin the decision-making process now rather than when the implementation phase is imminent.

Operationally, here are a few things to think about:
1. Vacation plans – Will they interfere with training, or vice-versa?
2. Did I give the troops enough notice to facilitate planning and the potential impact on work-life balance?
3. Training ultimately means that people will be pulled from the workforce. Who will mind the store? Consider making multiple sessions available for flexibility in attendance. Take care not to remove too many key players from the field at the same time…you could be asking for trouble.

Develop Materials
This includes items like, references, info packs, case studies, movies, games, and other visual aids. Remember to keep the information organized and easy to use by both the facilitator and the attendees…confusing programs will sabotage your program. This is also a great time to ensure that feedback from previous sessions is included. Make sure that the programs are up to date…spice things up by revamping statistical data, and finding new stories to tell. If the attendees are bored, they will not stay engaged with the facilitator. If attendees are disengaged, they will absorb less knowledge. Keep them engaged with activities such as trivia questions, interactive exercises, and group discussions. It is a proven fact that engagement raises knowledge retention.

Time for Class! This is when the training actually takes place. Here are a few things to think about:
1. Practice
2. Feedback forms
3. Management/leadership observations and interactions
4. Facilities management, including room arrangement and equipment
5. Classroom rules and expectations, including safety and evacuation procedures

All system outputs are a direct reflection of inputs, processes, and adjustments. The training process is no different. If the outputs of the program are less than desired, then changes to the program may be necessary. Companies should establish a systematic evaluation process to enhance the effectiveness of the training. We feel that the evaluation of the program should occur in two phases: 1) immediately after the program, and 2) some period later…for instance 6 months. The evaluation performed immediately after the program serves to correct urgent training issues such as incorrect data. This is also the time to concentrate on instructor techniques. The later evaluation determines whether the training enhanced employee and/or company performance.

We recommend the use of metrics to monitor for performance improvements post-training. Common Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are metrics that provide companies a clear picture of the operational health of the company. KPI’s are used to test for things such as employee turnover rate, absenteeism, unit production rates, and customer service satisfaction.

We all know that training is an important part of company growth and improvement, but as discussed above, it is quite a process. Remember, for training to be effective, it MUST be a process…NOT an event. Otherwise, I promise…you will waste money.

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