By Karen Brill
Any national roll-out of a training program is an anxiety-provoking experience for even the most seasoned learning professional. If the implementation fails, it is a very public failure. On the other hand, a national roll-out is a terrific opportunity to develop skills, attitudes, and behaviors across your operation that will improve performance and promote your culture.
Our lessons learned from large-scale implementations, largely based on mistakes we’ve made, will benefit any organization that operates in multiple locations.
Begin by devoting some time to analyzing the conditions under which training will take place. Think of this analysis as an ounce of prevention. Consideration of the following questions will serve to minimize unexpected obstacles once you take your show on the road:
Remember that a proactive approach in planning for a large-scale implementation will neutralize most unwanted surprises.
One of my previous columns extolled the virtues of a systematic approach to design. Since a methodical design is the foundation of successful delivery, engaging an instructional design professional is the way to go.
The design process needs to include sponsors, subject matter experts and representatives of the target audience. It needs to produce a detailed facilitator’s guide, participant handouts, assessments, slides, and an evaluation process for measuring behavioral change. And it needs to be reproduce-able.
Plan for the training to be delivered by trainers with variable degrees of experience. Complicated content and activities need not apply as a simplified approach will work best when it comes to roll-out.
Large corporations usually require a facilitator team to deliver learning across large geographies … and with variable results. To begin with, what process will you use to select facilitators? During one recent national implementation of customer service training, we wanted to attract people from operations who would develop the required skills and champion the key messages. We developed an application and interviewing process and sought individuals with some teaching or presenting experience.
Train-the-trainer programs need to offer ongoing support for facilitators. Too often a great train-the-trainer program is followed up with, well, nothing. And that means facilitators are in “sink or swim” territory. This is both unfair to an employee who has volunteered his or her time to engage in the project, and ill-advised, as delivery is as important as design in achieving the intended results. Ongoing support of the facilitator team ideally includes trouble-shooting meetings, as well as individual coaching by the lead facilitator.
Throughout the national roll-out, communicate to the organization your initiative’s progress. Share success stories, anecdotes, and lessons learned. If you don’t have an internal newsletter, this is a good time to create one, as you promote the training program and build momentum.
Please send along your own lessons learned from your pet national roll-out, and I will post them in a future column.
Karen Brill is a learning and organizational development advisor in Toronto, Canada, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416.432.9693