How Can You Improve Your Training Today?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could look at your L&D program, figure out what wasn’t working, and just wave a magic wand? While we can’t help you with that, we can help you work your own magic. This article will look at what you can do to start improving your training today.
The 360° Approach
Talk to Everyone!
The best way to improve your training program is to talk (and really listen!) to everyone that comes into contact with it. Okay, so it's no magic wand, but sometimes you just need to dig in and talk to stakeholders at all levels of your organization. Here are some issues you may be facing right now, and some quick wins you can look at to improve the issue:
Are learners aware that you offer learning opportunities or that there is a mandatory training requirement? This may seem silly, but you'd be surprised by the number of organizations who don't promote their learning programs. Getting people on board takes some salesmanship; you need to promote your program just as you would any other product. If you aren't excited about what you are offering, how do you expect your employees to follow suit?
Are learners motivated to start their learning? It is extremely important to understand what motivates your employees. They often become more motivated when they understand how their work matters and how learning experiences impact their job role and responsibilities. Here are some ways to increase motivation:
- Communicate the relevancy of the training
- Create content that is engaging and adds value (i.e. can be used on-the-job)
- Provide options; remember people have different learning preferences and blended learning approaches can cater to a variety of learning styles
- Provide adequate feedback
- Recognize learning completion
The points identified above are important, but perhaps the issue is that the learning is too hard to locate. If this is the case, ensure your LMS interface is user-friendly and provide instructions for employees to log in and access their learning activities/paths.
Are learners completing their learning? If learners are unmotivated, they may leave training on the table. Are you leveraging gamification, and other assets that can transform your learning into a fun and healthy competition? Also think about recognizing employees who complete their learning. Everyone wants a 'pat on the back'. There are many ways to recognize an employee without spending a lot of money or changing your existing content, including:
- Open Badges
- Special events with colleagues or senior management
Are administrators frustrated? The best LMSs will not only provide adequate support services for staff that actually make the system run, but will also make their jobs easier, whether it's assigning individualised learning paths, or bulk-adding learners to the system. If admins can't do that, your LMS won't succeed. Any LMS vendor should offer extensive administrator training. Take advantage of this offering and don't hesitate to work with your vendor to ensure that your administrators have the skillset to administer an effective training program.
Is the return on investment disappointing? Training is its own reward, but we all know that management has an eye on the bottom line. If the expected ROI isn't there, make sure your training program is set up for the continued success of your learners... Actually, let's segue into the next section and discuss this further.
Look at Everything!
What else do we mean by 360°? It also means going forward and backward in time. No, we're not suggesting you look into time travel - a magic wand would be easier! What we mean is you need to go back to the basics of your L&D and really look at it from every angle - before training begins, during training itself, and after the training is over.
If your training program isn't working, it's probably best to go back to your needs analysis. And if you didn't do a needs analysis... well, no time like the present! Think of your organization as a living thing - it will evolve over time, and, with that, its needs will necessarily change as well. If you set up your training program to meet certain objectives that are now obsolete, you're going to have a training program on your hands that just isn't working. It's also okay to recognize that your training needs have evolved or changed.
Make it a point to conduct a training needs analysis every five years or so, just to make sure you're providing training that is really what people need and are looking for, and is actually aligned with the goals you hope to achieve.
This is where listening to all stakeholders (including your learners) will help. The best people to tell you if your training is actually working are those that are expected to use it to improve their performance. Find out if you are providing not only the right kind of training, but if your delivery methods suit the needs of your learners.
Delivery methods? Yes, there's more to training than just putting the learning online and letting your trainees loose. How do your learners prefer to access their training? Is the learning available on-demand, where and when they need it most? Can they learn on-the-go? Are you able to deliver bite-sized learning nuggets, so learners can access their training without making a huge time investment?
Are your learners engaged? This can be as simple as customizing your training program so it follows your organization's brand standards, or as involved as a company-wide leaderboard that tracks and awards points based on how often your trainees are logging in to access new information.
How streamlined is your training program? Is it easy for learners to log in? Is it easy for administrators to assign learning? If your organization has to follow training mandates to stay current can training update reminders or notifications be automated? These are all things that should be part of any LMS - make sure you're leveraging all available options and getting what you need.
Finally, does your LMS support a blended learning approach? Blended learning strikes a balance between online and face-to-face learning, and ensures that the learner is engaged in a personalized learning experience that caters to their individual needs. This can be a great way to meet the needs of learners who take in their knowledge in different ways.
Training doesn't stop once a program is completed; no, for training to really be successful, you need to be able to see a return on investment, whether through cost savings or improved performance. Make sure your training program sets your learners up for success - set up reports so you can get accurate, meaningful data on how learners are performing both in written assessments and on-the-job performance reviews. Ensure their performance is monitored in the months after training too - you want to ensure that lessons learned are being retained.
Ensure you provide opportunities both for follow-up and engagement. Not only will this help your training "stick", but it will also create an environment where your learners feel comfortable discussing what their real needs are, and what may not be working as well as it needs to be. For more information on how to measure the performance of your training program, check out this article about the Kirkpatrick Model and how to apply it to your training program.
Okay, so there's no magic wand, no silver bullet that will dramatically improve your training program overnight. But by following a methodical, detailed approach like the one laid out here, you will be pleasantly surprised at the real improvements you can make to the training you offer.
Choose any or all of the approaches above, and get started today!
Sarah is an Instructional Designer at BaseCorp Learning Systems and is currently completing a PhD in Educational Technology. Her research focuses on implementing competency-based learning systems in all types of organizations. When she doesn't have her nose in a book you can find her at the gym, on the ice, on the ski hill, drinking wine or in a coffee shop … with her nose in a book.