Maximising The Effectiveness Of Your Training
Here at Optimum Results we cover all aspects of business training, from traditional classroom training to the most advanced learning management systems. However, we know that the best technology and most innovative, engaging content is most effective when deployed within a broader system of training, which is an integral part of any organisation. As such, to help guide you to maximising the effect of any training content or programmes you may have, here’s 5 key steps to constructing an effective training environment.
1) Focus your strategy: This one is very important, and is the necessary first step in deciding on a training strategy. What issues or deficiencies in your organisation are you looking to address with this training? While continuous improvement in every area should be a goal for every organisation, when looking to invest time and money in training it can’t be that vague. Quiz your staff, your customers, your suppliers. Find out what’s working in your organisation and (importantly) what could be working better. That’s should be your focus. If it’s a process issue, make that process your focus. If it’s sales or customer care just the same. All of these issues are specific, and require specific training responses to address, so know exactly what the issue (or issues, but don’t overload) is before you sit down to address them in training.
2) Include the stakeholders: Following on from the last point, where we advised to “quiz your staff”, we’ll expand on that a bit. The people who do the job are the people best positioned to tell you what needs development. They’ll tell you what’s wrong, and they’ll tell you how best to measure any corrections (more on that below). There’s another advantage to this, however: people don’t like to be told they’re making mistakes, or that they’re not performing to standard. By including people from different levels of your organisation, by asking their assistance and insight from the start, you help them invest in the training model you’re building together. They are taking responsibility for their own performance and engaging with the performance of the business as a whole. Through our parent company, Optimum Results, we’ve been training for 20 years. Over that time we’ve learned that content and professionalism in training is only half the battle; if the trainees aren’t engaged, the best-designed training in the world is not going to be as effective as it could be.
3) Make it measurable: Another important one. How are you going to measure the effectiveness of training? Maybe you roll out a training programme, deliver it, and sales go up. That’d be great, but does it mean there was necessarily a connection between the two? Maybe, maybe not. You need to decide before rollout what the metrics of measurement will be for the success of your training. In what areas do you need to see improvements? And how will you decide what constitutes “improvement”? Will it be completed sales, for example, or increased volume of enquiries? At this moment in time, and within the realistically measurable period of training, which of those is most likely to be achievable and most valuable to your company? A lot of low-value sales going out might make a sales metric seem great, but might not be as valuable as establishing proper contact with clients who may be able to bring large contracts in the near future. These are things to think about. Do that thinking before you start a training programme.
4) It must be practical: the most effective, well-designed, well delivered training programme can be deemed a failure if the expectations aren’t realistic. You need to know what’s practically achievable for your staff, and that’s what you need to work on. This is linked to the specificity point. A training programme trying to address all possible organisational issues over one session is doomed to failure, it’s too ambitious. Likewise, a training course trying to turn a SME into a multi-national overnight is also. I’m being glib in those descriptions, but the point is sound – ambition is a great thing, but only when it’s focused and practical. Otherwise it’s just wild dreams. Also, it must be practical in terms of the staff receiving it. In other words, it must be actionable by them, it must translate into new competencies or procedures that will increase efficiency and address real workplace deficiencies.
5) Finally, any training programme must be part of a developing strategy. To maximise efficiency, you need to pay attention to the measurements mentioned earlier. It’s not simply a matter of “did we hit the predetermined targets”, the information you receive from training needs to be properly sifted, dug down into. What elements were most effective? What ones weren’t? In each case, why was this? How can you incorporate the most effective elements into further training. This is where a proper LMS can really come into its own, by the way – reporting is a fundamental part of every system we design, and multiple data filtering options are key to good reporting. Even without an LMS, you need to be able measure the effectiveness of all training elements in order to properly plan future growth.