Your business is constantly evolving – and your employees must evolve with it to meet the daily challenges it brings. Having a well-trained workforce can boost productivity and increase revenue while lowering waste and costs. And the value of an effective training program outweighs the costs of creating and implementing it, resulting in reduced employee turnover and a more engaged staff.
This article defines training programs and tells you how to create an effective training program for your employees.
What is a training program?
Training programs are used in many different ways. One is for new employee onboarding – to inform them about the companies’ policies and processes. They are also used to help employees learn and develop their skills to improve their job performance. And they help foster professional growth and development to increase productivity in their current and future roles.
But effective training programs must be planned and implemented strategically.
7 Steps to Create an Effective Training Program
1. Identify Training Needs
Follow these steps to identify the needs of your company and employees:
- Identify clear goals that support your organization and the people being trained.
Training should be purposeful, clear, and supportive. Examples of goals may include increasing ROI and decreasing costs, showing employees how to use new equipment, or teaching them a new procedure.
- Determine what actions must be completed to meet the goals.
Analyze what your employees do now with what they need to do to meet the new objectives. For example, before introducing a new product, employees need to know what it is, how to produce it, and other important details to successfully launch it.
- Identify training activities that support employees’ learning.
Once you know what your employees need to learn, you can develop training activities to help them accomplish those tasks. Training activities include demonstrations and hands-on practice of the tasks they’ll need to perform.
- Consider employees’ learning styles.
Think about your employees’ learning styles and develop training that will be the most effective for them. Consider things like – do they prefer self-guided or self-paced learning, are they more comfortable with instructor-led or computer-based training, do they learn better from reading, listening, doing, etc. Since you can’t cater to each person’s learning style, you’ll have a better chance of reaching everyone if you create training that combines different aspects.
2. Review Adult Learning Principles
Remember, your employees are adults – so you need to approach training differently for them. Your training will be more effective if it recognizes and respects these adult learning principles:
- They have many years of preexisting knowledge, experiences, and independent opinions.
- They are usually goal-oriented and self-directed.
- They want relevant, task-oriented training that’s worth the time it takes away from their daily productivity.
- They need to understand how the training will benefit them.
- Adults need to feel valued and respected.
Have you heard the saying, “you can tune a piano, but you can’t tune a fish?” Well, you’ll be trying to tune fish if you choose to ignore these adult learning principles.
3. Develop Learning Objectives
Before you begin creating your training program, you must identify learning objectives – what do you want your employees to know or do after they complete the training? Once you identify these learning objectives, you can work from there to create content that supports each objective. Stay focused on these learning objectives and vary your methods of testing employees’ comprehension of the information the training provides.
Present your objectives as SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Doing so will ensure your employees reach essential milestones in their training.
4. Design Training Materials
Use the information you’ve gathered above to begin developing your training materials or modules. It’s crucial to prepare before you launch into development to ensure you’ve thought of everything, and nothing is out of order.
Here are a few tips for designing your training materials:
- Focus on your employees’ learning needs – and not what’s easiest for your trainers.
- Make sure your content and assessments directly relate to your learning objectives.
- Incorporate the adult learning principles.
- Include interactive and hands-on elements so employees can work together – people learn better by doing.
- Encourage feedback and interaction throughout the training.
- Split your training materials up into smaller “chunks” that are easier to process.
- Logically order the information – chronologically, steps that build on each other, etc.
- Try blending several different formats – instructor-led, computer-based, etc.
- Integrate stories of real-life scenarios when possible.
- Appeal to the five senses during training – sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. The most important sense for learning is sight but adding the others also helps.
5. Develop Your Training Materials
Once you have your design, you can begin developing your training materials. You can create a mix of elements to help make your training a success. Keep your learning objectives in mind as you develop your materials. Here’s a look at a few options:
- Reading materials – handouts, outlines, pamphlets
- Slideshow presentations, charts, graphs, or other visual materials
- Materials needed for any hands-on portions of the training
- eLearning links, usernames, and passwords for any online portion of the training
6. Deliver the Training
Be sure to give your employees advance notice about the training so they can put it on their calendars and complete any necessary pre-training preparation. Reserve rooms for the training, gather all the supplies you need – including drinks and snacks.
No matter which method or combination of methods you’ve chosen to deliver the actual training – make sure attendees know exactly what’s expected of them and what they need to do to complete the training. Define your learning objectives and how you plan to assess their knowledge at the end of the training.
7. Evaluate the Training
Once the training is finished, you need to evaluate the success of your training program and determine if you met your objectives. These metrics will help you evaluate the effectiveness of your training:
Use employees’ feedback to determine what they liked about the training, what they learned, and their suggestions or overall opinions. You can get this information by asking their opinions, observing employees during training, and using an anonymous online survey. Survey Monkey provides free online tools to get the feedback you need.
Assessments, simulations, and demonstrations can help you evaluate how well the employees learned the objectives and material you’ve presented.
- Post-training job proficiency
Are employees applying the new knowledge or skills they learned from training? Observe their on-the-job behavior to see if the training improved their proficiency.
- Quantifiable business results
Did the training enable you to reach your desired business goal? Over the next month or quarter, analyze the results that the training produces. Did you meet the learning objectives you based your training on? Did revenues rise? Did costs decrease? Were there any changes in productivity or other metrics you monitored?
These four areas of evaluation will help you determine if the training was effective – or if there are areas you need to tweak and improve.
You may need to return to different parts of this 7-step process in the future. One reason is if your original training program proved ineffective in any of the four levels mentioned above. You may also need to rework the training program if the process changes or you hire new employees.
But now that you know the method, you can easily work your way through again. Take the time to make improvements that will make your training program even more effective. And remember that one-and-done training programs usually aren’t successful.
An effective training program can have a huge impact on your organization! But its effectiveness depends on how it’s designed, developed, and implemented. By following the seven steps listed above, you can create a successful training program that will help you meet your business goals.
Impact Group Training can help you create an effective training program from beginning to end. Or we can help you put together and design training material you’ve already written. With our extensive experience in instructional design, eLearning development, and graphic design – we can make your training ideas a reality! Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.