How to Create a Training Strategy

Training Strategy

Before we go into this, remember that training is going to potentially be a really key part of your change program or project. Most change projects do have an element of training to some extent. You’re likely to be teaching people new skills, new behaviors, new knowledge. Therefore, ultimately, you’re going to need some kind of training plan or strategy.

In terms of how you create an effective training strategy, there are four key steps…but before we dive into those, let’s consider some key guiding principles in terms of how you make sure your training is ultimately really effective and what you want to be thinking about as you go through the approach to creating your training strategy.

  • Accessibility: In today’s world, you really want to be thinking about digital and innovation and how people engage with new information: it needs to be on-demand, highly accessible, bitesize etc.  

  • Engagement: Think about how you’re going to really build excitement and engagement so people do the training without being pushed to do it. Think about creating bite-size options, again, making it very accessible. Think about how you can get leaders involved as key influences and role models. How will you support adoption?

  • Adoption: Consider how else you can make this easy for people to adopt back into the working environment so that from training to reality is not too much of a jump? And then also looking potentially whether you want to train the trainer options.

Training Approach:

Step 1- Analyse

This is where you conduct your training needs analysis (TNA). So you really want to think about capturing through interviews, focus groups, surveys, etc., the new knowledge, skills, or behaviors that people are basically going to need to adopt as a result of the change. So it might be knowledge of new processes, how to use new IT systems. It might be skills related to new procedures, new ways of interacting with people. And then it might be behaviors that are more to do with mindset, of how people go about doing their job. For example, putting the customer first, handling customer complaints differently, that type of thing.

Step 2- Design

Once you’ve understood all the training needs you then move on to design. So this is where you’re really thinking about your training plan and the content that you’re going to deliver in order to achieve your learning objectives: who, what, how. So you want to think about your key stakeholder groups. Who are the people that need training? What’s the topic that they need training on? Breaking it down at that level. What’s ultimately the learning objective? So what needs to be different? What do they need to now have in terms of new knowledge and skills at the end? What delivery method would be most appropriate? Is it classroom training? Is it online? Is it stuff that they can go and watch themselves? Is it videos? What trainers or facilitation might you need? Everything else to do with location, logistics, dates, times, materials, etc. So you want to build your training plan to really cover all these elements. When designing training it’s important to pay attention to learning styles. Don’t just assume that everybody’s going to learn new knowledge or skills in the same way. Some people really like to read into the detail. Some people really want to watch videos. It’s got to be visual for them to get it. Some people really need to be shown. So you really want to think about the different learning styles and try to appeal to all four as much as possible, giving people options so that it’s not going to turn anyone off who’s really not going to be able to fully engage in the learning content if it’s using a channel that’s just not going to work for them. Then finally, consider your delivery approach: videos, user guides, fact-sheets, FAQs, infographics etc. People expect things to be on-demand, fitted around them, with different options that they can go in and get information and digest it in the way that’s most useful for them. So really thinking about the different methods that you can employ here.

Step 3- Deliver

Then you’re moving into deliver. So really, this is about who and when. So you’ve got all your content. You’ve got your channel sorted. It’s really then who’s best to deliver this training? And do you want to adopt a train-the-trainer as well? And with who? It’s not just because you want to use people who know it, obviously you do. But it’s also because you want to think about who from the business could really help this to land well. Who could bring it to life? Who could then sponsor it potentially? And then when is really crucial. You don’t want to make people do loads of training way ahead of when something’s going to be implemented, for example. You’re not going to turn the technology on for another month. Everyone’s done training, and they’ve not put it to use straight away. You want to make that gap really small so that as soon as they’ve done training, it’s straight away being applied on the job, and they haven’t lost the learning already.

Step 4- Evaluation

The final step is the evaluation of training. So this is really key because training is likely to be a significant investment within the change program. It’s usually where the most money, time, and effort get spent because you’ve got to get the experts in, you’ve got to design the training, understand what you need to do, deliver it. It can take time. It really is a significant piece, usually. So you really need to make sure you’ve actually evaluated whether training has achieved the outcomes that you set out to achieve. The Kirkpatrick evaluation model is a really useful framework, really easy to explain to stakeholders, to get people to understand what you’re going to do here. It consists of 4 levels which correspond to the complexity of the evaluation that you’re going to do but also the level of value that you’re going to gain. Level four being the highest value and the most difficult to really pin down: 

The 4 levels of the Kirkpatrick evaluation model:

Level 1: Reaction- Think of airport ‘smiley sheets’! Did people enjoy the training or not? What’s their overall reaction? Well, even if we know they did, that doesn’t really tell us if they learned anything, whether they’re applying the learning, or whether it’s had the overall business impact that we wanted. 

Level 2: Learning- So the next level is learning. Actually determining whether learning has taken place. So testing people’s knowledge to see if they’ve understood and they’ve got the new knowledge and skills that we needed them to have.

Level 3: Impact- Has training been transferred to the workplace? Are people actually adopting these new skills, behaviors, and knowledge? No point in them learning it if they’re not going to adopt it. And if they’re not adopting it, what’s getting in the way? Why are they falling back into old ways of working?

Level 4: Results- The most complex but critical level is being able to demonstrate the actual changes to the business that you wanted to see. So whatever it was that we wanted to train people in to change, new skills, has that ultimately had the business effect on the business that we were aiming for in the first place?

Example methods

You can conduct evaluation through assessments, surveys, direct observation, focus groups, customer feedback, 360 feedback etc. And probably most critical of all-  you can look at performance data and KPIs to see what’s changing and where you can really see the evidence of that.

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