Are you providing regular training sessions in a particular topic, but finding actual skill development or improvement in work performance is poor? It’s a very common, and frustrating, scenario.
Frequently we’re asked to develop an improved training course, with improved content, for organisation’s experiencing this situation. But improved content alone, whilst helping, frequently will not improve the learning outcome.
The learning outcome from training is the degree to which individuals successfully apply what they have been taught back in their workplace; one week, one month or one year post training. Learning outcomes can be measured. For example help desk support calls and usage statistics inform us on the learning outcomes of technical training. Customer satisfaction or achievement of quality standards are soft skill measures. The rate at which people are re-trained is also an excellent measure.
Improved content is only one piece of the learning and development challenge. It is wise to examine your complete training model.
The quality training model will have addressed 7 key elements to achieving the learning outcome:
- Preparation of the participants for training. Do they know why they are attending and what they will do with the knowledge back in the workplace?
- Timing of the training. Are you overwhelming people with too much, too soon after commencing their role?
- Method of training delivery (face to face, online, etc.). Is it the appropriate method for your audience to learn by?
- Content of the course. Is it relevant to the participants, or should it be tailored for particular roles or levels of experience?
- Capability and competence of the trainer. Can your trainer communicate the concepts clearly to the participant group?
- Support for performance post-training. Is there a supportive environment in which post-training skill development is fostered and nurtured?
- Reward for utilising the skills. Is there some personal benefit/satisfaction or actual reward staff achieve from implementing their training?
You won’t need to make major adjustments to all seven elements to achieve the required learning outcome (although you will need to ask yourself a few more questions than those posed here). Usually one of these elements will be the key offender of poor outcomes.
It could be that your budget training provides an excellent understanding of how to budget, but the support tools to develop the budget are difficult to use without error. Or the work put into completing the budget does not assist managers in meeting their personal targets, thus they are not inclined to complete them accurately.
Most training models will only need a few tweaks of the most impactful element to achieve real improvement in your learning outcomes. Where complete or serious lack of skill development is occurring it’s time to call in the experts.