Foolproof Checklist to Design an Effective Training Programme
Everyone recognises the value and benefits of workforce training. When done in the right way, training can make employees more efficient increasing production, revenue, and profits while decreasing costs, reducing waste, and inefficiencies.
Effective training can lead to not only a happier, more satisfied and engaged workforce but also to increase compliance with regulations. It also has a direct impact on the cost of hiring. The benefits are many.
However, creating an effective training programme isn’t child’s play. Sometimes the training may be considered but not given the proper structure for it to pan out successfully. In my experience, I have encountered cases when, the problem area may not be fixable with training; yet, the training is conducted just to tick some boxes. There can be several reasons which are easily overlooked that can make training a failure.
Also, once considered, training need not be an expensive affair. Depending on the training goals and objectives, it can be done in-house, through a team member, or an external trainer may be deployed keeping budget considerations in mind. The key is to carefully chart out why you’re doing it, and ensure that the end result is as close to your vision as possible. If gone about the right way, the benefits may even outweigh the shortcomings.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to get started on conceptualising an effective training programme:
What’s your goal?
Don’t provide training if it’s not clear why you’re doing it, or if it doesn’t directly support a business goal. Business goals can be anything from increasing the earnings and efficiency, reducing costs, reducing wastage of resources, improving customer service, supporting a new product, teaching a new way of working, or updating and compliance with new regulations.
Once the goal is identified, make an assessment of what you need to fulfil the aim, and the outcomes. Ask yourself what your employees have to do for the company to achieve the goal? This should give you the “performance gap” between what your workers can do now, and what they should be able to do. Sometimes, this information can be garnered through a performance appraisal. Sometimes you may need to do a detailed survey or a needs assessment. Any way you choose to get this information, it would serve as the foundation of what needs to be fixed or build upon and who needs to undergo the training.
For example, if it is the launch of a new product, employees would need to know all about the product, a detailed run of how it is produced, and what skills the employees would need to improve/acquire to boost this product. The difficult training goals are those that are related to behavioral or attitudinal change. That’s where clear identification of the goal and the exact behavior or attitude change needs to be well articulated.
It is also important at this stage to have a realistic estimate to timelines, not only for conducting the training but also factor in the time after which you will evaluate the impact. It is impractical to expect a change immediately after the training, even if it is about something as simple as a new product launch.
How will you structure the training?
Once the goal is identified, and the purpose of the training is set, you will need to lay out the structure. First in that is to ID who should do the training? If the training is something related to policy changes, then it could be done in-house by the HR team. If it is something to do with compliance, like GST, you could call in an expert from outside to give a low down. If it is a process-driven training, then a seasoned team member or manager could conduct the training. If it is about a soft skill you might need an external trainer.
Once you have bracketed the why’s and who’s of your training process you will need to outline the structure of the programme like what the duration will be, what kind of schedule to follow etc. It is not necessary that one training will help you achieve your goal. Of course, that also depends on the goal. It is important to follow a consistent schedule. After identifying what the employees need to do, you have to identify the training activities that will help them learn those tasks.
To continue the product launch example, this may include a brief explanation of the product, an overview of the production process, and demos along with the hands-on practice of the tasks they’ll have to perform on the job. Communicate with the team as to how the training will pan out so they can prepare for it, and make it clear that outcomes will also be clearly assessed.
You should offer a beginning to end guide as to what will be covered in the programme. It can include a detailed explanation of your curriculum, a content creation plan, who the instructors will be and whom you need to assign or get on board, where the training will be conducted if it is not an online module, a detailed schedule, dates, and timings, all the requisite technical support etc. communication to the employees, the evaluation, and implementation of the learning and all the material required for that.
How will you plan for training programme?
While this may seem too simple to elaborate it is an extension of the previous point. A detailed blueprint of your employee training plan will give you a headstart and help conduct it smoothly.
One thing to keep in mind is that a learning management system (LMS) can be used to assign, deliver, track, and report on training. This is one way for employees to easily log in and see the list of training they’ve been assigned and it can automate a lot of the manual scheduling. A more user-friendly approach could be also be used such as Google drive.
In addition, you may also have to do things like inform the workers’ supervisor, reserve rooms for training, buy any necessary supplies, work through any scheduling or travel logistics, and perhaps even arrange for meals. Make all arrangements so your training goes off as smoothly as possible.
In case of an external trainer, it is a good practice to discuss the content in advance. It helps to iron out any difference of opinions and to support customisation to address organisation specific challenges.
How will you evaluate the training?
As an integral part of the training, the evaluation has to be a systematic process. Before training begins, it is helpful to plan what factors you will be measuring and how you will collect the data required for this. Post-training quizzes, one-to-one discussions, employee surveys are some ways to measure training effectiveness. The more data you gather on measurable outcomes, the easier it will be to quantify your company’s return on investment. And more importantly, it enables you to really know if the goal was achieved or not. Here are a few points to keep in mind to help evaluate your training.
a) Participant satisfaction with the process and outcome should be measured through a feedback system immediately after the training is completed.
b) Evaluating the course content is important, to see if it was relevant. What has had a direct impact? What could have been left out? What needs to be included the next time around?
c) Make the participants accountable. So, send participants an evaluation worksheet within a week to 10 days of the training for best recall. Grade their responses, and share these with their reporting managers. This can help ensure that any knowledge gaps are addressed.
d) Go over what business goals you had set out and see if they have been met, what you want to improve etc. At the end of the day, if training is not resulting in business growth, it cannot be termed as 100% effective.
e) Finally, see if it is value for money. Chart out the quantitative gains and see how it can be a recurring activity in the company without burning a hole in the pocket.
How do you put the training into practice?
Again, it may seem obvious, but one of the most critical things you’ll have to do is to make sure that all the learning is recorded, feedback is taken, and employees actually put into practice what they have learned.
We at YellowSpark have made this aspect mandatory for our training programmes through a specialised tool called PAPT or Practical Application Post Training. This tool is a well-designed step by step format that employees who have attended training submit post training. This helps them put their learning to practice. It also helps companies to justify their investment in training programs.
This is also a time to run surveys for learners to evaluate their courses and instructors, criticise the content and suggest improvements. Also, asking managers to evaluate employee post-training performance will give a fair idea of the implementation.
Finally, no training program is perfect from the word go, so don’t treat your training plan like it was written in stone. Have the confidence to be flexible and change it when necessary. Re-evaluate your training curriculum as your company grows and its goals change. However, don’t make the mistake of changing or reviewing the goal(s) mid-way. Get rid of outdated content, add new courses, and revisit existing ones to train employees in new skills and workflows.
To identify problems in your employee development program early on, you should be constantly tracking its progress and gathering feedback from learners and stakeholders.
At Yellow Spark, we design practical-based training programmes to help your company and employees grow. Other than the training itself, we have strong pre and post-training engagements which have helped our clients to meet their training objectives. To know more, write to us – firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.