Why does your organization train? Is the purpose exactly the same for every training program? If not, why do all your programs seem so similar? Understanding the purpose before you design a training program can make it more effective and unique. Knowing the purpose can help shape a program’s curriculum, structure, duration, and even its instructional design.
However, no matter what the program is, your planning should answer at least three key questions: why is the training needed, what is the goal, and what are some temptations to overcome. Here are three types of purposes for common workplace training.
Purpose: Training for certification or regulation
Why is it needed? When employees must become certified, an industry association or government agency sets training and job performance standards. These groups accredit vendors to supply training; so, you might not be developing this training yourself. But if you have to try, you must first understand the full scope of the standards and then train to those standards.
What is the goal? Employees who can demonstrate the required knowledge and skills to become or remain certified.
What is the temptation? Training employees on your company’s internal issues along with the certification standards. Doing so can confuse employees, resulting in poor understanding of the standards. This is one area where it pays to use consultants for classroom sessions or to require employees to take online courses from an accredited vendor.
Purpose: Training for employee competence
Why is it needed? Even the most essential skills deteriorate if they’re not applied regularly and correctly. Training keeps new skills sharp and sharpens existing skills.
What is the goal? Employees who can demonstrate the required skills to perform more accurately and effectively.
Before training occurs, measure the current competence of your employees. Tell them to complete a specific task while you record the amount of time it takes, the number of errors made, the quality of work produced and so on. Using these same parameters, measure the task again immediately after the training and at regular intervals.
What is the temptation? Believing that everything can and should be taught together in one session. However, most competencies must be learned in different stages and with time and repetition. In addition to a workshop, consider delivering short training cues throughout the day for several weeks. This can be as simple as sending out emails that offer best-practices, or posting signs in key areas of the building that remind workers what they’ve learned. Make the ongoing training even more effective by providing short videos and interactive exercises.
Purpose: Training for organizational change
Why is it needed? Organizations add or change their policies and procedures because the existing ones aren’t working as well as they should, or new conditions require new policies. Sometimes, the organization strives to adopt a culture that spotlights an important or new aspect of their mission statement (e.g., diversity, legal compliance or customer service).
What is the goal? Employees who recognize the importance of new policies, procedures and cultural shifts, agree to buy in to them, and begin practicing them.
To implement a change—whether large or small—across the organization, the curriculum should be easy to understand, be focused on the aspects that are changing, and give sufficient time for employees to ask questions and adapt their knowledge or behavior. The training should be divided into tangible areas of growth. Instead of measuring the entire change management plan, focus on meeting smaller, more measurable milestones.
What is the temptation? Relying on “buzzwords” that are understood only by those at the top of the organization. If these are introduced in training without sufficient explanation, employees may feel like outsiders within their own workplace.
Also, if you also don’t include regular follow-up training, some employees may revert to the old practices or normalize deviations of the new practices.