As someone said, not too long ago, “…if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it”. We are talking about training, the goals of your training program and Learning and Development (L&D) here folks. We are here with some latest best practices in this field.
And we are shunning the common concept of creating learner-centered learning materials. Wake up ID’s (instructional designers), this is not kindergarten or even freshman any more.
We are talking about specialized adults here who are probably at the peak of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (you guessed it right, self-actualization) and they ready to adapt to knowledge, and not vice versa! Think: business-centered learning materials.
The second misconception we are denouncing is the Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation process to determine the effectiveness of the training materials. Experts in our industry are realizing that organization training is not only about the learner satisfaction. Performance and competencies need to be measured explicitly to determine the ultimate ROI (return on investment) and ROE (return on expectations) for the proposed training.
While the primary goal of a training program is to increase individual knowledge, its ultimate goal is to raise competency levels in a task determined in the job profile of the learner. Organizations that rapidly adapt to shape-shifting modern technology and its use are the ones that train towards their corporate goals. These organizations are essentially learning organizations, a state in which learning is directly applied to real-time job dilemmas to overcome and eradicate them.
Avoid Having Your Training Department’s Program Fail
Despite the best laid plans, trainings seem to crash in terms of effectiveness. You have been there: a recurring problematic situation, screaming for training is naturally fulfilled by a state-of-the-art e-learning course. A mission repeatedly unaccomplished, a new process established, a latest application implemented or too many complaints from the customers, all highlight a learning gap.
As a training manager, you have dutifully fulfilled this gap through external and internal resources to create seemingly “best fit” e-learning content. The training still fails to live up to its expectations. Why?
Have you ever wondered the environmental factors that may adversely affect your training? Remember, the best way to capture training effectiveness is through collecting value-driven data. Examine the following circumstances and their solutions. Sometimes it’s not how you train but what you train.
- Lack of incentives to apply training: implement an incentive system.
- Unclear job functions: explain job functions
- Inadequacy of feedback: offer adequate feedback
- Lack of access and reliability of resources needed to perform a task: provide access to reliable resources
- Lack of knowledge/skills: train
- Low physical and mental capacity: supplement capabilities
A Learning & Development Strategy For Your Goals
High-performing organizations constantly evaluate their activities to determine gaps in performance and competencies and how they align up with corporate goals and department goals. Developing a L&D strategy is the key to aligning training goals with corporate goals. Measuring the impact of your training materials should yield the success and progress towards corporate goals. Learning in the corporate environment is not merely “knowing” or being “informed about”.
How do you measure knowledge? Naturally through quizzes and scores. But would you ride in a plane piloted by an individual who has passed his flight tests through such scores? eLearning in the corporate environment is about introducing activities that stimulate active decision making instead of a simple recall.
It’s all about behavior recording and measurement. Instead of “knowing” and “understanding” your training goals need to be “being able to perform steps 1 through 10” to measure the task execution as complete or incomplete.
Crafting And Aligning The Right Training & Corporate Goals
Designing eLearning materials that go beyond passive reading of pdf files, watching the latest demonstration video or even being able to label the diagram is a challenge. Dynamically improving individual skills for a collective functionality requires re-design of e-learning materials. The perfect training goals need to be action-driven to match with corporate goals.
They must be quantifiable. For example, training sales representatives on shifting from service to product cannot involve “knowing the product” or “get familiar with the product”. Knowing is a mental skill. It cannot be measured in terms of actions.
And how do you provide feedback to improve? Instead, the objective should be “sales representative should be able to list key features of the product and how each corresponds to a value to the customer”. Because listing is an action and several activities can be built on that. Role play activities integrated in a real-world context scenario would measure the desired skill of the learner.
The Near Perfect Corporate Training
Research indicates the following six strategies that will enable training managers to align training goals with corporate goals:
- Aligning training goals with corporate goals: Use a TNA (Training Needs Analysis) assessment process. This boils down to identify goals (performance outcomes for a department), tasks needed to achieve those goals and the knowledge, skills attitudes needed to perform those tasks. Define and prioritize the corporate mission and goals to determine which training program is most suitable and which has the most impact on performance.
- Improve human performance: Determine the environmental and man-made barriers to training effectiveness and the rationale behind performance gaps. Fulfill the non-training gaps through Root Cause Analysis.
- Reduce time to competency: The sooner your operational staff will acquire the new skills the sooner savings on training will kick in.
- Select the right blend of delivery options: E-learning is the proven method to provide just-in-time training and accessible resources for performance update.
- Consider internal versus external options: External consultants or custom-built materials may be more cost-effective in the long run if employed early on in the training process. Their expertise and insight can close a performance gap quicker than an internal or off-the-shelf-training solution.
- Duplicate efficient programs and detect problem areas: Manage training budgets and resources from a centralized database and multiple training resources to identify methods of running training programs more economically.
To Sum it up
If you wanted a simple solution to align corporate goals with training goals simply think of the training design and development process as a four phase process (a sum up of the above information):
- Define/prioritize corporate mission/goals
- Identify/prioritize tasks needed to achieve corporate goals
- Identify groups required to perform tasks
- Optimize the use and application of training
J. (Jay) Bahlis, Maximize Training Impact by Aligning Learning with Business Goals. Reteieved from, http://www.bnhexpertsoft.com/english/resources/salt06.pdf