5 Steps to Drive Real Change into Your 2018 Training Calendar

Everyone must understand the “why” behind needed improvements, the “how” underpinning your training calendar, and the measurement plan that ensures that all participants recognize success when it happens.

2018 is shaping up to be a banner year for business, and pressure is increasing on those responsible for training programs to become true agents of transformational change. Everyone is looking to make substantive and meaningful gains in the performance level of employees and teams. In this type of crucible, the training calendar can become your best friend. Here are five rules to follow to ensure your calendar looks bright for the coming year and becomes a real beacon for the types of organizational and cultural change you want to see happen in 2018.

Rule #1: Your Theme Should be Intentional

The theme you define for your training program should never be created on a whim. It should be tied directly to specific outcomes you wish to target, and these outcomes should not be a “wish list” of every goal within the organization. There needs to be a tight focus on achievable goals, built around a common language that will connect employees within the company, both horizontally and vertically. Then the theme needs to adhere closely to this area of focus throughout the entire run of your training initiative.

Rule #2: You Should Know What Success Is Going to Look Like

This may seem obvious, but is it really? Has your team sat down and defined each and every soft skill they are looking to improve? Has improvement been defined in a way that can be tracked and measured? What does success look like for each individual participant in the program, and have you considered that this may vary from individual to individual? And how does all of this translate to overall success for the group?

With these goals in mind, you can begin to concept around how you will gather both the qualitative and quantitative data you need to determine if success was achieved. At the end of the training calendar, be sure to follow through on your analytics plan and make an honest assessment of that year’s outcome. Then develop a plan to apply the lessons learned to the following year.

Rule #3: People Should Always Be the Focus

If you’re starting with an annual budget, and then developing a plan to fit, toss that document out the window. Instead, map your plan and your goals around the people you’re trying to influence, just like you did with your theme. Base the effort on the skills transformation and personal growth you want to engender in each employee. Decide on strengths, weaknesses, and your plan to build on one while mitigating the other. And be sure to include a gap analysis around your culture. Ask yourself: “In what direction does our culture need to move before its qualities align with our vision?”

In answering these questions, keep in mind that there are many ways to train to fit a wide range of budgets. And when you determine your organizational needs effectively, the budget often can follow, as clear understanding internally will help you to paint a picture for budget stakeholders around desired training outcomes and acknowledged gaps that must be overcome.

Rule #4: Train the Trainer

Once you’ve decided on a plan, you need more than solid training talent to deploy the programs on your calendar. You need to ensure that your trainers understand the reasoning behind the strategic, tactical, and cultural shifts you are trying to make. They need to connect with your initiatives on both an emotional and logical level to ensure they will successfully impart your goals to the rest of your organization.

Your trainers also need to be intentional. They need to know what resources they will apply (and how they will apply them) to move team members from one level of leadership to the next. But while the methodologies are precise, the implementation should be flexible enough that trainers can proactively modify material to suit the needs of individuals and respond to new areas of focus that are identified after one-on-one coaching sessions.

Step #5: Keep Building the Buy-in

I mentioned how needs clarification can go a long way toward building mindshare around a program, but this is only the beginning of the communication challenges ahead. Discussion of needs must be joined to a plan for execution, success measurement, and refinement. Each step must be clearly and effectively communicated across every level of your organization. Everyone must understand the “why” behind needed improvements, the “how” underpinning your training calendar, and the measurement plan that ensures all participants recognize success when it happens. When this kind of visibility is tucked neatly into the billfold of your department, you often will find that scheduling and deployment of your training program suddenly will become much easier over the following year.

As vice president of Client Success for The John Maxwell Company, Chris Goede guides corporate clientele through the process of leadership by leveraging his organization's proprietary suite of solutions. His extensive background in executive management and high-performance team building allows him to help clients live out leadership in remarkable ways. 


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