Create Training That Produces Business Results
The Oxford dictionary defines training as the “action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior.” Unfortunately, this definition does not point to the organizational purpose for training to produce business results. Most Training professionals are aware of this gap but uncertain how to close it.
Here are four simple steps Training professionals can follow to create training that will measurably impact organizational results.
STEP 1: DEFINE THE BUSINESS OUTCOME
The first step is to determine the specific organizational- level result desired. Your goal is to discover and understand the underlying problem that generated the training request, and what would indicate the problem has been solved.
The more specifically you define the desired outcomes, the better target you have to focus your efforts. You also should ensure the stated outcomes are at the organizational level. For example, “Teach our new leaders effective communication skills” is not an outcome. You need to know what kinds of positive outcomes would occur if new leaders were to use effective communication skills, such as increased employee satisfaction or reduction in errors.
STEP 2: IDENTIFY THE CRITICAL BEHAVIORS
After achieving clarity on the desired outcomes, find out what would need to happen for them to occur. This basic but critical step often is overlooked.
Engage in a two-way conversation with experienced supervisors about exactly what training graduates need to do on the job to produce the desired outcomes. A small number of clearly defined critical behaviors should result. In this process, you are defining in literal, observable, and measurable terms what people should do on the job to make the desired outcomes most likely to occur.
For example, critical behaviors for a leadership development program might be:
- Conduct daily team meetings to discuss the status of key projects and address any challenges to accomplishing milestones and goals.
- Meet weekly with direct reports to discuss their role in key projects and identify where additional support might be required.
STEP 3: CREATE SUPPORT AND ACCOUNTABILITY TOOLS AS YOU BUILD THE PROGRAM
When a training request is received, discuss post-training roles and responsibilities with the business. The more mission-critical the program, the more attention is required for the on-the-job support needed after training. Design and build a post-training support and accountability package as you build the training content, and share this plan with participants during training so they know what to expect.
For example, senior managers could require new leaders to report on the team meetings and individual sessions they held with direct reports that week, including the key topics addressed. The IT group could provide online templates and tools to make this easy. Training could assist new managers who are struggling to hold the meetings.
STEP 4: MONITOR AND REPORT ON PROGRAM PROGRESS
After training, continually monitor and report on critical behaviors, the support and accountability package, and preliminary outcomes. This puts you in a position to influence and maximize performance and results.
If these ideas sound daunting, remember that the rigor you use is directly proportional to the importance of the program.
To get started, select the most important, mission-critical program on your plate. Try to gain leadership support from an executive who sees the value of the program and will act as a champion. Treat the program as a pilot, and try different methods to see what works.
Jim Kirkpatrick and Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick are co-authors of the book, “Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation.” To learn more and to download free resources, visit: https://www.kirkpatrickpartners.com.