Simple steps to plan effective training
Good training is essential to the safety and wellbeing of employees. For the next few weeks Nicole Vazquez will be setting out how to get the most out of training, how to engage workers, and utilising the best resources.
Simply sheep dipping individuals in training is a waste of time and resources. You may miss vital learning for some, whilst going ‘over the top’ for others – one size does not fit all.
For any training to be successful it needs to reflect the needs of the individuals whilst meeting business and regulatory requirements. Not an easy balancing act, but one that can be achieved with a little bit of groundwork.
Here are some simple ideas that can help you:
- Think big! When considering training options you should always look at the bigger picture. Think about the goals of the organisation overall, consider where training can cross-pollinate (threading messages throughout different training and communications can be a good value option) and explore your organisation’s vision for the future. Any changes are likely to require new skills and it might be cheaper to incorporate these now rather than re-train employees in 12 months.
- What do you need your employees to be able to do? Be clear on the objectives for the training. There may be industry or legal standards your employees need to meet. Training should provide practical information and actions that can be applied in the real world. If you start with a definitive outline of the knowledge, skills and behaviours you expect it will be easier to make a plan of how to get there.
- Measure current competence. An audit of current skills, knowledge and behaviour is vital. Measuring performance and comparing it to desired standards is the obvious way to understand any competency or attitude gap; observation of work, training records, records of incidents or near misses, manager’s reports, focus groups are all good ways to build the picture. Don’t forget to ask employees what they feel they need – anonymous questionnaires can provide honest answers.
- Who exactly needs the training? Identify needs at all levels. If you are looking at providing training for front line staff, consider what training the managers may need too. They will be the ones helping to support and reinforce the messages and monitor expected behaviours and are often forgotten about. In our experience where managers are trained first this can really help embed any changes from the training.
- What kind of training will suit your employees? Classroom training is rarely the only solution and often not the right answer. There are many different ways of engaging employees in the learning process. Blended learning (utilising eLearning, face to face, forum theatre, webinars, etc.) can be successful and can offer an adaptable approach to suit varied learning styles. Can you afford to release employees for full days if necessary? (and will they engage for a full day?) If not then you may need to consider delivering in bitesize chunks.
- Consider how you will measure the success. All training should have some form of evaluation that goes beyond the ‘happy sheet’ to ensure that the business objectives are being met. Agree the evaluation and assessment of learning ahead of the training delivery so that you can measure your return on investment, both in terms of performance and cost effectiveness.
Fail to plan your training and you may find you’ve wasted your budget and worse; your colleagues may not be any better equipped with knowledge, strategies or techniques than they were before.
As external training providers, we are often told we ask a lot of questions before designing and delivering training and yet after delivery those same people praise us for just how well the project fitted the needs of both the individuals and the organisation – I rest my case!