There are four keys to the success of a training program.
- Get buy-in from the training participants
Why: Participants have to feel that they’re getting something valuable, or they won’t participate, and they won’t learn.
How: Ask them what will make the program worthwhile for them. Have them select 2 or 3 learning objectives that are most important to them. Have the participants identify the benefits of learning the content. Co-opt the more experienced participants by respecting their expertise, asking them to provide practical examples and also to serve as resident experts in their small groups.
- Provide relevant practical skills
Why: Participants have to see immediately that what they’re learning has direct application to their jobs.
How: Conduct a training needs assessment. Speak to managers and potential participants to identify skill gaps. Make sure to discover what skills are necessary, why the skills are important, what policies or procedures apply, and the consequences if the skills are applied poorly. Work with a subject matter expert who can provide real life information and examples. Ensure that the right people are getting the right training.
- Provide time for practice
Why: If participants don’t practice new skills in the class to build confidence in their own competence, they are unlikely to use those skills on the job.
How: Model what you want the participants to do. Provide templates or checklists they can refer to. Group them in triads, where one person uses the skills with another person while the third person observes and gives feedback. Or have a table group of five participants take turns. Ensure there is sufficient time for the practice and time to debrief the practice afterwards.
- Ensure follow-up
Why: The majority of new learning is lost within a day or so. Prompt follow-up to reinforce new skills is essential.
How: Have the participants create an action plan to apply their new skills in a current job situation. They should share their action plan as well as a summary of their key learning from the program with their manager as soon as possible after the program. You involved the manager in identifying the skills gap. At the same time, discuss the importance of the manager following up to reinforce the use of the new skills.
Question: What else is necessary for a successful training program?
May your learning be sweet- and safe.
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