By Jacqueline Sirota
Have you ever thrown training at a workplace “problem” and then wondered why the problem didn’t go away? You’re not alone. Too often, managers encounter workplace problems and then “throw” training at them, thinking they’ll go away. However, after spending time and money to develop training programs, the “problem” remained. Sound familiar?
My first thought is to say, “Kudos to you” for at least thinking that training might be a possible solution to your workplace problem! Before spending time and money, my advice is to follow a systematic process to first determine if training is a potential solution – and if it is, then develop one that actually “works.”
First, conduct a front-end analysis. Take some time (it doesn’t have to be a lot of time) to conduct a performance analysis to determine if your “problem” can be solved via a training solution. Training is not the panacea for all business problems; only if there’s a lack of skills and/or knowledge can you be assured that training should be part of your solution.
Second, if your performance analysis determines that training is an appropriate solution, conduct a needs assessment. Using a systematic process for determining learners’ needs, you can establish what your learners already know and are able to do versus what they should be doing. The gap between the two is a “performance gap,” and your training solution should be developed to eliminate it. As part of your needs assessment, you can also gather information about your learners so that you can customize your training. Additionally, conduct a job task analysis to determine what a competent person does when performing job tasks. Performing the needs assessment will allow you to develop performance-based training specifically targeted to your learners and their job performance requirements.
Third, after completing your needs assessment, design/develop “performance-based” instructional content, including instructor and participant guides, practice and feedback exercises, job aids, evaluation tools, and delivery options. As part of the instructional content, create quality practice and feedback exercises for every skill that closely mirror the learners’ real-world jobs, including the conditions learners face in the workplace. For example, if the learners are required to perform a task within a specific timeframe, be sure to develop sufficient training practice exercises with these same time requirements so learners can actually perform the task back on the job. In addition, develop evaluation instruments so you can ensure learning quality and measure success.
Last, throughout the training development process, continually evaluate outcomes at each step. Training development is a process, and evaluating each training phase (analysis, design, development, implementation) goes a long way in providing quality performance-based learning outcomes in which learners actually learn how to perform their jobs competently. After all, isn’t that what you want?
Jacqueline Sirota helps organizations by developing custom learning solutions for the workplace. For information, contact
or visit www.jacquelinesirota.com