The time has come. Something is amiss and there are skills and knowledge needed by a group of people in your organization. Maybe there’s a team of new hires. Maybe a new software is changing the way your team works. Whatever the situation, there’s training ahead. How do you go from here to a prepped and ready workforce? By matching your training methods to your objectives. It all begins by asking the right questions.
Organizational Training: Begin by Asking Questions
While it’s tempting to leap in head first, the prudent and ultimately more efficient way is to ask the right questions before planning any training program. Without examining the target audience, it is hard to determine what the real need is or how to best to meet it. Small focus groups, interviews with managers and company leaders and interviews with members of the target audience all provide vital insight into what needs to be learned and what will help one learn it. Specific questions could include:
- How long has the audience been at the job?
- Where are they working?
- Are they dispersed geographically or local?
- And what is their existing foundational knowledge?
Objective: Consistent Message for Employees in Various Locations
Solution: The Virtual Classroom
Location considerations are important because they determine the delivery method. If all trainees work in the same building, a traditional facilitator-led class is not a problem, but if everyone is dispersed, it might be very costly to get together in one location. A virtual classroom is a potential option for a client who is trying to get a consistent message across to a group of people in different locations. This method incorporates the benefits of a live facilitator, subject matter experts, feedback, interaction and the ability to break into small discussion groups.
Objective: Teaching Foundational Knowledge and Applied Skills
Solution: Blended Learning Approach
Another consideration when developing curriculum is determining whether it is appropriate and beneficial for participants to acquire foundational knowledge before a live workshop. Facilitator-led workshops are about application, letting the learners practice new skills and work together. It’s a misuse of time and budget to spend hours going over information that can be provided ahead of time through web-based training or self-study assignments. Blending the two approaches can provide an optimal result for organizations needing to teach foundational knowledge and applied skills.
Objective: Acquiring Knowledge and Understanding Theory with Consistent Messaging
Solution: Web-based Training
Web-based training delivered by computer or mobile device has become popular in recent years because of its adaptability and consistent messaging, however it’s important to recognize that it works best for acquiring knowledge and understanding theory.
“Sometimes people want web-based training to accomplish more than it really can,” explains Dana Meyer, Training Operations Manager for Alteris Group. ”For instance, if you want to teach a course on consulting or teach an audience how to consult, you can’t do that through a web-based course. You can give them fundamentals, but there really needs to be some sort of in-person interaction and application to learn that type of a skill.”
Objective: Engaged Audience and Reinforcing Core Messages
Solution: Expert Video
For teaching information on a topic that isn’t going to change very often, a video that includes subject matter experts is an effective learning tool to share with a wide audience. “We might have the head of a department or other company leader speak to share their knowledge with the rest of the organization,” Meyer says. ”Using subject matter experts on camera gets the attention of the target audience by lending authority to the message.”
Video is a valuable component in training, especially digital training where it creates an engaging and interactive experience for today’s computer-savvy learners. Video can be incorporated into web-based training, serve as the introduction to facilitator-led workshops or as part of many other training tools.
Passing the Test
Each industry and company is unique with different training objectives. Whether those objectives are consistent messaging, reaching audiences in different locations, teaching foundational knowledge, or learning applied skills, there are methods to fit.
After learners complete training, testing provides feedback on how well they grasped the material presented. Whatever your objectives, by taking time to plan the right mix of curriculum and the delivery method, your team will be ready for the real test: improved performance on the job.