How many times have you seen projects delayed because the project team underestimated the required efforts for designing and delivering a training solution?
This impacts the project and can cause non-negligible delays which will then incur tens of thousands of dollars in costs to the organization. In this article, we would like to bring a new perspective on how you can reduce those risks, delays, and costs by applying a simple but effective 3-step approach.
A Simple 3-Step Approach
There is no doubt that training is a very important component of change management when it comes to preparing people for the change and helping them learn the required skills to do their job differently. The question that always comes back is ”Where do I start?” or “What is the first step I must take in developing a training plan?”
It’s not a tricked question, but you’ll probably think that the answer is too simple to be true. It’s just that simple!
You’ll need to determine IF you need a training plan. Contrary to popular beliefs, not all organizational changes require one. Then you may ask ‘’But how do I determine if my initiative needs a training plan or not?’’
Let’s go through the 3-step approach together.
Training Guiding Principles
Now that you know whether you need to develop a training plan and material, we would like to share some practical tips that can be a matter of “make it or break it” when it comes to building a training plan and delivering training content. Let’s call them “Training Guiding Principles”. These guiding principles come from over 15 years of training experience, and I hope you find them helpful.
Consider these guiding principles regardless of the delivery method (i.e., virtual, in-person, or hybrid):
- Involve training experts where possible – Is there an internal Learning & Development or Training department? Talk with them before you start defining your training activities to see if they need to be engaged in the process and determine what would be their role.
- Be mindful of different KSA levels within your stakeholder groups – Never assume that your audience already knows everything. In other words, you need to look at the KSA gap (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities) of your impacted stakeholders. Don’t base your KSAs on your needs or the initiative team’s need as you all are actively involved and most likely are quite knowledgeable about the change.
- Plan a training pilot – Plan for enough time to pilot your training, solicit feedback and edit the training before rolling that out.
- Engage a subject matter expert in building content – You always need a subject matter expert’s (someone who knows the new system, process, policy, etc.) support to create the training material, you need to make sure you have access to a subject matter expert while designing and delivering training materials.
- Evaluate the training content and delivery – Training evaluation is very important. The best time to get more responses to your training evaluation survey is immediately following the end of your training session. This applies to both instructor-led training and self-paced.
- Build a calendar that considers stakeholder business operations – Some organizations have blackout periods where training is not recommended and that is usually because of their operational considerations. For example, a postal service company can get really busy in December due to the volume of holiday gifts to manage.
- Build the content when the system is almost ready – For training on a technology or a system, you will need to take screenshots to create how-to documents and other training materials. Make sure that the system is stable enough and in its final stage of development as you don’t want to use non-current screenshots.
- Factor a translator for multi-lingual organizations – If your employees or users are bilingual or multilingual, you’ll need to factor-in translation time and logistics in your planning. You should consider completing the training material development in an agile and iterative approach, which will help save project time and costs.
- Conduct the training sessions as close as possible to the project go-live – It’s a best practice to make sure that learners can put into practice what they have learned as soon as possible. Conduct the training sessions right before you go-live because if you train employees on how to use a new technology 2 months prior to Go-Live, there is a great chance that they will have forgotten most of the training. This will require them to be trained one more time which will cause much frustration. Leaders expect that their employees’ time is taken into consideration so that regular business activities are little to not-at-all impacted.
- Plan a refresher training – Try to complement your training activities with just-in-time training. When I want to use the knowledge that I learned in the training, a refresher will be very helpful.
Virtual Training Extra Tips
Most of us have experienced many changes in how and where we work as a result of the pandemic and the public health guidelines. We now conduct virtual training sessions much more than we used to before the pandemic so we thought we should have an additional section here to focus on best practices and guiding principles around virtual training sessions as these are occurring more regularly these days.
Here are some tips or guiding principles that can help you when designing and delivering virtual training:
- Learners lose concentration faster in a virtual environment – The length of each module should be shorter if it is being delivered virtually. If in a class setting the attention span is no more than 40 minutes, consider changing the beat by including exercises requiring more participation from the learners
- Use many energizers and icebreakers – Sitting behind a computer for training is not easy and learners lose attention much easier. Make sure you plan regular interaction moments and discussions with your learners. Use icebreakers and energizers which will help boost their active involvement.
- Plan for virtual office hours – Create virtual drop-in sessions to give participants a chance to ask questions. This is the time that participants would normally have with facilitators in an in-person session to ask questions. You need to try and create a similar experience to in-class sessions.
- Encourage participation with videos during the training session – Use training platforms that have video participation options and encourage learners to join with video.
We covered quite a lot of ground in this article, but we thought it was essential to bring a refreshing perspective on how to enhance the training analysis, planning, and execution.
Just as a reminder, training is where you potentially create the biggest impact on user experience. It’s also where you may see most delays on your projects not considering the technical issues.
Make sure to plan well ahead so you have sufficient time to design, test, and adjust the content you’ve developed. You also need to take into consideration, when doing your planning, that as there are more and more projects being implemented in an Agile way, you may not have much time between each release to develop the content. Keep it simple and concise. Reach for the outcome!
Looking for some advice and coaching to see how you can best implement an approach with your team?
Connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saeed Kamazany Associate & Strategic Advisor Connectiviti – Rethink. Decide. Innovate. That’s how we Make Change Happen.