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Designing Training Programs That Work

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A grey HVAC System with a meter connected, outside next to a brick wall

As a Trainer, Business Coach and Entrepreneur for the last 28 years, plus working as a training manager for one of the largest residential service companies in the world prior to that, I’ve seen and experienced quite a bit. One thing I do know is that most training programs I’ve seen do not work as well as they should.

I’m not in any way saying that training is bad. In fact, any information and training that is offered to employees is helpful. I just believe that, in most cases, the training can be developed better and can make a measurable result that will provide a great return on investment. Many organizations decide to not invest money because they are unable to see a substantial return that makes sense using productive time to train people.

In this article we will discuss how to design training that works and offers a return on investment. First, we will go through the following eight main steps required to make a training program successful.

Step 1. Determine the need

Why do you want to train people? Are they new at this job? Is a new service or product is being introduced? Are they doing their job incorrectly and they need to learn how to do things better? Is there a deficiency of some kind keeping them from doing their job well?

Step 2. Will training fix it?

If the deficiency is the result of bad morale or something that is not the result of them not knowing how to do something, training will not fix it. Below is a list of everything that may cause a deficiency in the performance of an employee:

1. Personal problems (illness, personal issues with spouse, children, etc.)

2. Don’t know how to do something and need training

3. Not understanding or following procedures or processes (this could also be bad processes in the business)

4. They are incapable of doing it (like putting someone on roofs or towers who is afraid of heights)

5. They are just putting in time, don’t care or are in a rut.

The only challenges that can be addressed with training are numbers two and three. The others cannot be resolved with training but may require leadership intervention. Too many times I’ve been asked to design and present training to resolve motivational problems. Keep in mind, if someone doesn’t care or doesn’t want to learn something, training will not work!

Step 3. If training will fix it, what are the specific tasks that they need to be able to do once the training is complete?

This will consist of the training program designer writing training objectives. An example of a training objective is: “Upon completion of this training module, the student will be

able to successfully change a compressor and follow all necessary stated guidelines to successfully complete all the required tasks at a resident’s home. This includes:”

You would then bullet point each specific task.

Step 4. Design the course so that it will teach them through example, role play, and making them do what you want them to learn.

Most people cannot learn simply by watching and/or reading. The training program’s odds of success is greatly improved if you indicate to the learners that they will be required to demonstrate the ability to perform the new tasks. Simply sitting in a room and watching everyone else is not learning. Stay away from distracting students with nonsense and history lessons that add no real value to the desired outcome.

Step 5. Review the major topics of the course.

Always take the time to review the main objectives and important topics of what they should now know.

Step 6. Have them take a test or assessment of what they have learned.

This is the final exam or test that proves that they now know what they have just learned. Hopefully, it will be them doing what they learned in front of you. Don’t bother testing them on things that will not indicate they can do the job. Some people are good at remembering facts and numbers yet cannot apply anything.

Step 7. Follow up

Do this by observing them on the job to make sure they are following the processes and tasks you have taught them. If the learned tasks are measurable, keep track of their performance and give feedback.

Step 8. Perform another assessment

In order to determine the next plan of action for the training needs of your team, try starting at step 1 again.

Following this process should increase the learner’s odds of performing better and/or learning how to perform the desired tasks as required. Also, practice makes perfect. Although many people are not fond of using roleplay in training, it works! It is not much different than coaching a sports team by having them do the same things over and over again until it becomes so routine, they can do it without thinking about it.

Frank Besednjak

Posted In: ACCA Now, Training

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