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Building Your First Employee Training and Development Program

Training and development programs drive a company’s success, yet many organizations struggle to build effective ones. An obstacle many companies face is knowing where to start. At Dashe, we create enterprise training programs often and well. This means we can guide clients through this process quickly and efficiently. Here’s how we do it in five easy steps.

Step one: Start with your employees’ needs and performance gaps

Before creating a new program, take a good look at the training you already have in place by conducting a front-end analysis. Using a combination of Design Thinking, the ADDIE model of instructional design, and Human Performance Technology (HPT) model, you can uncover gaps between current performance and desired performance while also identifying the root causes of those gaps.

This approach will show you which gaps can be solved with training versus another performance intervention. Once you get clear on what those gaps look like, you can start thinking about how to address them. For instance, you might start with looking at which training topics are missing from your program. After that, you can drill down deeper to determine what exactly about those topics your employees need to learn. That is, identify the specific and concrete learning objectives your training needs to cover. This enables you to deliver training solutions that help employees close skill gaps, improve performance, and meet company metrics.

With needs and performance gaps identified, you can match what employees need to learn with when, where, and how they need to learn it. This points you to the appropriate modalities – or containers – for that instruction. Instructor-led courses, eLearning modules, and videos are just the tip of the iceberg.

Step two: Take your employees’ feedback to heart

Staff engagement is imperative to the success of any training and development program. If you plan to buy off-the-shelf courses, identify a handful of employees to test-drive a couple of courses and provide input during the selection process. If you plan to build custom courses from scratch – either in-house or with a vendor partner – involve employees in the design process. Get their input on during the course prototyping phase. When the course is in development, solicit employee feedback on user experience.

Step three: Stay in front of your employees

Training is most effective when it extends beyond a one-and-done experience. The same goes for training programs. These are most effective when they engage learners on an on-going basis.

After delivering initial training on a particular topic, follow up on that topic in different, engaging ways. Let’s say you launch an eLearning course to employees in January. In the subsequent months, push articles, infographics, or even short videos that reinforce those learning objectives. Host “ask-the-expert” sessions to answer the questions employee inevitably have when practicing and implementing a new skill on the job. Encourage and support communities of practice, whether formal or informal. Taking this blended learning approach to designing training programs lets you create or curate this content methodically.

Step four: Make it easy to access

Training program implementation is about more than just logistics. While it’s critical to define processes for content creation, delivery, and completion tracking, it’s just as important to ensure learners can locate and access engaging content at the time and place of need. Your plan should include putting the appropriate resources in place for employees who need to learn outside the actual or virtual classroom. Create and maintain content that helps employees do their jobs. If they need to reference instructions for completing a task, make sure they can quickly search and view that content. If they need to see how a task is performed, make sure they can access videos or images of that content. At the same time, keep in mind where your employees are when they need the training (e.g., an office, a vehicle, a laboratory, etc.) Just as important, consider the device they’ll use to receive the training (e.g., a laptop, a smartphone, a tablet, etc.).

Step five: Find out if it is effective

Finally, after investing time and resources in steps one through four, measure the results of your hard work. Remember the assessment you did in step one? Take a look at the skill gaps, the performance gaps and the metrics you needed to impact. Evaluate how well the program you designed and developed closed those gaps and improved those metrics. This will help you see whether your preliminary training program efforts are trending toward success. Doing this soon after implementation gives you an opportunity to tweak or redesign what’s not serving your employees’ needs or helping meet your company’s goals. And doing it again, after each update or iteration, will help you continuously improve your training program as well as your company’s performance.

Dashe can help

Dashe has 40 years of experience conducting training needs assessments to uncover root causes of performance problems. After solving for our clients’ training needs, we create and deploy learning and development programs that position employees to drive business objectives and reach organizational goals. Because we do this often and well, we can do this quickly and efficiently for you. Here’s how to contact us.

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