An effective training program is built by following a systematic, step-by step process. Training initiatives that stand alone (one-off events) often fail to meet organizational objectives and participant expectations. We outline the five necessary steps to desigining an effective program.
1. Assess Training Needs: The first step in developing a training program is to identify and assess needs. Employee training needs may already be established in the organization’s strategic, human resources or individual development plans. If you’re building the training program from scratch (without predetermined objectives) you’ll need to conduct training needs assessments.
2. Set Organizational Training Objectives: The training needs assessments (organizational, task & individual) will identify any gaps in your current training initiatives and employee skill sets. These gaps should be analyzed and prioritized and turned into the organization’s training objectives. The ultimate goal is to bridge the gap between current and desired performance through the development of a training program. At the employee level, the training should match the areas of improvement discovered through 360 degree evaluations.
3. Create Training Action Plan: The next step is to create a comprehensive action plan that includes learning theories, instructional design, content, materials and any other training elements. Resources and training delivery methods should also be detailed. While developing the program, the level of training and participants’ learning styles need to also be considered. Many companies pilot their initiatives and gather feedback to make adjustments before launching the program company-wide.
4. Implement Training Initiatives: The implementation phase is where the training program comes to life. Organizations need to decide whether training will be delivered in-house or externally coordinated. Program implementation includes the scheduling of training activities and organization of any related resources (facilities, equipment, etc.). The training program is then officially launched, promoted and conducted. During training, participant progress should be monitored to ensure that the program is effective.
5. Evaluate & Revise Training: As mentioned in the last segment, the training program should be continually monitored. At the end, the entire program should be evaluated to determine if it was successful and met training objectives. Feedback should be obtained from all stakeholders to determine program and instructor effectiveness and also knowledge or skill acquisition. Analyzing this feedback will allow the organization to identify any weaknesses in the program. At this point, the training program or action plan can be revised if objectives or expectations are not being met.
Considerations in designing effective training programs
- Selection & preparation of the training site (comfortable, quiet, space/visibility)
- Selection of trainers (train the trainers, using internal vs. external trainers)
- Making the site and material conducive to learning.