Imagine this – you are designing a training program to upskill existing employees, or you have to create new hire training program. You dust off your instructional design skills, fire up your PowerPoint, Storyline, or Camtasia, and get ready to create your courses. But wait – are you sure you know what you are doing?
Often, when a request comes into the Learning and Development (L&D) department, some training practitioners blindly accept the request and immediately begin development. Unfortunately, this can lead to wasted effort, missed expectations, frustrated learners, and diminished credibility. The good news is that you can avoid all that by ensuring that your training program includes the five things described below. This is a great way to ensure that your L&D efforts hit the mark and provide significant value to your internal, or external, clients.
Before we dive into specifics, visualize an inverted pyramid of organizational need. The hierarchy of importance can help you design and develop an impactful learning program because it starts with the primary goal of delivering organizational impact.
- Organizational Impact – Begin with the end in mind. What problem will this training program solve? How will this program deliver a positive impact to the businesses bottom line? Use your performance consultation skills to conduct a thorough analysis of the situation. Your goal is to answer questions like, “How will this training program make or save money? Will it reduce speed-to-competency of employees? Will it increase revenue through enhanced skills? Will it reduce attrition through improved leadership skills? Will it mitigate legal exposure through compliance training? These answers will inform the right solution, which may not be training development at all. It’s important to create the target before you start shooting arrows and that target is all about impact to the organization.
- Measurable Learning Objectives – Once you have your target, it’s time to reverse engineer your learning objectives. Determine what the business hope to achieve through the completion of this training and then, figure out what the learner needs to be able to do coming out of the training. From here, work backwards to create learning objectives. Be sure to make your objectives, terminal and enabling, measurable. Remember the adage “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”? This is critical when writing your learning objectives.
- Evaluation and Measurement Strategy – Now that you have your objectives and they are tied to performance, determine how you will validate that those objectives have been met. Will the learners demonstrate the newly acquired skill through an observation exercise? Is there a rigorous written assessment? What about after that, once the learners leave training? Be sure to take the Kirkpatrick evaluation model as far as you can. Most companies stop at Level 1 and Level 2 but that’s only half the story. While Levels 3 and 4 can be challenging and time-consuming, they are vital to ensuring the long-term success of your program.
- Relevant Content – With your framework of Organizational Impact, Learning Objectives, and your Measurement Strategy in place, it’s time to develop the content. It’s important to ensure that the training course or program directly relates to the audience. Is it specific to the job competencies of that target audience? If not, it’s probably not worth including. After all, there is not a lot of value in creating learning to address a phantom skill gap or knowledge that doesn’t pertain to the job competencies.
- Engaging Content – With your relevant content established, you are ready to get creative. How can you deliver the course content in a way that appeals to your learner? Whether you develop synchronous classroom-based training or a high-end virtual reality training course leveraging job simulations, your content should engage a learner in a variety of ways.
- Make it visually appealing – Even a low-tech participant workbook can be aesthetically engaging. Use modern imagery, infographics, iconography, and simplistic layouts to deliver content. Ample white space, bullets, and attention-grabbing headers are all tools to use in your learning design.
- Tell a story – Since the advent of spoken language, stories have been used to educate, entertain, and establish connection. There is no reason your course content can’t do the same. Put the learners front and center and involve them through scenario-based training. From ‘choose your own adventure’ branching scenarios in your eLearning to small group activities in the classroom where learners have to collaborate to successfully navigate a scenario to the correct conclusion, story-based training has been proven to be effective.
- Make it actionable – When your learners have to do something, answer something, or interact with something, knowledge transfer happens faster, and that knowledge is retained longer. Synchronous elements like teach-backs or asynchronous elements like completing a virtual simulations, help with content segmenting, pacing, and knowledge retention. Modern learners don’t want to be talked at, they want to be involved and they want to ‘do’, so let them.
The next time you get a request to develop training, take a few moments to run through this list and gather information about the specific need from project sponsors, stakeholders, and subject matter experts. By doing a little advance work, you can help ensure the training you develop will meet business expectations, engage the learner, promote a strategic partnership with your stakeholders, and deliver organizational impact. If you made it this far but are still stuck, consider professional help. A Learning Services provider, like CoreAxis, can collaborate with you and create your next training program; one that delivers real results to your learners and the bottom line!