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A Beginner's Guide to Taming Your Training Program

  • February 01, 2021
  • VAIRKKO

Training management programs for employees are essential to the success of a company. All organizations need to support the development of their top professionals and provide them with the skills to best perform their roles. This is especially crucial with today’s rapidly evolving technologies.

There are many benefits to implementing staff training programs. On one hand, a company can handle its shortcomings and achieve better results as a whole. On the other hand, providing quality training programs can be a way to retain talent, improve the working environment, and ensure employees continue to progress. All these benefits should translate to a happier, safer  and more effective workforce.

Yet despite these advantages, developing an ideal staff training program is no easy feat. To help in this regard, we have prepared a guide that explains each step of how to do it successfully.

1. Identify a Project Sponsor

Any high-quality training program begins with a person. We can label this individual as the project sponsor.

In some companies, this person could be the learning and development manager, training specialist, chief learning officer, or training coordinator. Regardless of their job title, this individual is the one in charge of training and developing the staff.

Project sponsors are responsible for planning and carrying out all training initiatives within the organization. A good project sponsor is naturally open-minded, motivated, curious, and committed to developing employee skills to help them reach their potential. They are invested in learning and are consistently up-to-date in improving their personal skills and competencies.

Furthermore, this individual is often tasked with marketing the training program within the organization. This allows employees to be aware of development opportunities internally. Other crucial skills for this role include leadership, problem-solving, and business acumen.

2. Gather Requirements

Before we can start to create a training program, we must first identify the knowledge gaps within the company. To accomplish this, a training needs analysis has to be performed. There are two methods of doing so.

The first approach is the standard top-down method that is often outlined in many training guides. Such a process is centralized, with the training managers being the primary investigators and decision-makers on what the workforce needs to learn. These individuals set learning needs based on their data of worker knowledge gaps. They then prioritize these needs and plan course recommendations.

Most of the time, this approach requires too much effort without justifiable accuracy. Top-down analysis often involves much guesswork as managers attempt to assess what workers know and what they should learn to perform their jobs better. Courses that are made without the input of team members will mostly miss the mark.

A better approach follows a decentralized, bottom-up path. This method is when anyone within the company can inform the managers of their training needs. The workforce provides input on what they wish to learn. Rather than dictating the training requirements, the company manages the system, accurately prioritizing employee needs and organizing fulfillment. This bottom-up approach allows staff to take an active part during the conception of the training program.

There are various ways employee input can be collected, including:

  • Using surveys and questionnaires
  • Conducting formal assessments
  • Observing employees and analyzing their work

Another way is to take the time to ask employees what they need to perform their jobs better. Are they currently happy in their line of work, and if not, what can make them happier? Encouraging open feedback by separating such conversations from any sort of human resource setting can help.

Knowing which employees possess certain training certifications and which ones are no longer valid can allow companies to identify gaps that can be patched. Using a compliance software platform that can provide visibility and accountability can be beneficial.

Since training requires analysis, it is not a one-and-done task but an ongoing process that dynamically changes alongside the needs of the organization and its personnel. It is a more efficient and accurate approach.

3. Identify How the Data Will Be Tracked Going Forward

The results of training employees are not easy to quantify. However, when the project sponsor and managers can determine the needs of the organization that are parallel to the business, quantifying training outcomes becomes much easier.

When setting goals, ensure that the metrics provide the whole picture. This should include the quality, quantity, cost, time, and effectiveness of the program. Develop a benchmarking strategy to evaluate progress towards company goals. Ensure that the information and reports are easily accessible to supply the necessary data needed.

Managers should be given a schedule to monitor, study, and review training progress towards the objectives regularly. This allows managers to be agile and make changes to the strategy when needed.

However, seeing any sort of success or growth is not possible without seeing key performance indicators (KPIs). When looking at the right KPIs, companies can see if their training is having the right outcomes and return on investment they desire.

Here are some KPI examples that should be tracked:

  • Course completion rates – This rate allows organizations to see how much required training was completed by the employees
  • Pass/Fail rates and average scores – This KPI allows companies to determine if their employees understand the information delivered
  • Job role competency rate This rate shows the progress of employees in terms of their training and how they are applying new knowledge in their job roles
  • Percent of satisfied employees with training – This shows how many employees were satisfied with the training program

There are various tools that can be used for this step. Excel and Google Sheets are common programs that are readily available. However, they do not provide the automation and streamlined processes that can be leveraged in training and compliance software such as VAIRKKO.

Learning and evaluating training programs are a major part of increasing development effectiveness.

4. Create Systems to Manage the Process

After identifying the project sponsor, knowledge gaps, and tracking needs, the next step is to consider the workflows required. Who is in charge of approval for the training? Who decides which employees can participate? How will the facility team know when to prepare the training location?

Implementing well-documented company workflows can make the entire training process go a lot easier. Creating the workflow can help bring in all key personnel so that no one misses out on the training session.

For participants, the workflow can also include notifying managers of completion, providing overview documents, and setting up steps to acquire feedback by the end of the program.

5. Announce Your Plan to the Team and Stand Behind Your Project

The fifth step is communicating and publicizing the training program. Although this may be often overlooked, the organization should not underestimate the importance of marketing the training campaign. Remember, a well-designed training program is of no use to anybody if they are not aware of its existence.

To avoid this, we recommend the following tips:

  • The goals of the training program have to be explained in detail. Managers should inform the time of completion, the benefits it offers, and other logistical and technical aspects involved in the process
  • Assign a person who can communicate and market the program within the company
  • Be visual by providing videos, infographics, and other graphic materials that can increase employee interest
  • Leverage all technological resources and channels available, including videos, email campaigns, social media, and more
  • Emphasize the professional and personal benefits the training program can provide
  • Hold a launch event for the training program to mobilize employees and give it more importance

A training program uses significant company resources. That is why managers should keep stakeholders excited by marketing their program ahead of time. Providing teaser materials and descriptions of the training can help build momentum.

6. Monitor, Analyze, and Iterate Improvements

After the employee training program has been completed, it is time to obtain as much feedback as possible from the staff. This is also the time to evaluate effectiveness.

To accomplish this, we recommend the four-part model laid out below:

Reaction

One way to evaluate a training program is by conducting surveys and interviews. Ask employees if they found the training helpful, if they would recommend it to others, and what they have learned so far.

The surveys and interviews must be conducted before, during, and after the completion of the training program.

Learning

For this phase, assess whether the employees have accomplished the learning goals established. This is the part where tests and exams can be given to evaluate if the training has improved their performance.

Behavior

Some training programs are intended to change employee behavior, habits, or their general attitude. Quantifying this requires a longer period of time, including several exams at various stages after the training.

Team managers can be assigned to assist in evaluating behavioral changes throughout the company.

Results

Has the training program helped achieve the goal of the organization? Were the knowledge gaps covered, and was the company improved as a whole because of the training? Go back to step 3 and assess the company KPIs to find out.

All of the data gathered for the training program should not only help evaluate its quality but should also be used as a learning tool to make improvements later on. The surveys and interviews should include open-ended and qualitative questions where employees can contribute ideas for future training programs.

The best training management programs evolve and improve. By watching how employees interact with the training while evaluating its effectiveness, managers can identify areas to make it better.

Besides the KPIs, consider these other training tracking activities:

  • Analyze quiz results to see if specific questions are consistently being answered incorrectly. If they are, perhaps the content is inadequate or the questions are at fault
  • Assess customer satisfaction to see if the training is providing the desired effects
  • Review support tickets to see where additional training can be made or improved
  • Directly ask participants about their performance pain points and which areas of the training are beneficial to them

From the start, it is best to allocate a few hours per week to monitor the adoption of the new training program. Ensuring that workflows are properly incorporated and leadership on all levels are holding employees accountable can increase training effectiveness.

By gathering feedback from employees and leaders alike, organizations can improve their training programs for everyone.

Conclusion

This guide for taming a training program may give the impression that the process is basically a linear sequence of steps. Although the sequencing can be used for guidance, leaders should exercise freedom and creativity in adapting the model to their organization. After all, the best training program is the one that can absorb general ideas while still incorporating new data and changes.

Developing a training program involves a lot of research, planning, decision-making, and collaboration. Just like any journey, it always starts with one step forward. A successful training management program begins with one question “why?” Find the answer to that, and the rest will follow.

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