By Janine Sergay
The need arises when one of the following circumstances exist:
* Introducing a specific new skill set for a targeted audience
* A broad-based behavior shift in the organization is needed
* Orientating selected individuals into a new hierarchical level, with new responsibilities
* Entrenching a way of thinking and operating
* Accelerating the development of identified high achievers
* On-boarding optimization is needed
* Creating a networked critical mass of people at a certain level
* A need for a represented national specialist body of professionals
These programs, because of the time, effort, and cost involved, need to be planned with extreme care so as to ensure the intended results are achieved. There are definite steps to take that can ensure a positive outcome with a large scale development initiative.
After careful analysis of the environment, competency and development needs should be identified. This will aid in defining the focus and clarifying who the internal target audience is. A decision needs to be made whether entry selection criteria should be applied and what these criteria should be. Target learners should be profiled. Defined outcomes will enable benchmarking measurements to be made, and ensure that the training program is designed with the end in mind.
Core competencies need to be established. These are the competencies that will ensure the outcomes are achieved. The definition of competencies can be delineated into the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitude required. These competencies also need to be linked to the organization’s strategy to ensure that its future resource capability needs are met. The competency pieces can be mapped against what currently exists, as well as what is still needed. A matrix can be utilized in order to gain an overall perspective.
Competencies can be further broken down into different levels of mastery. This ensures that progression in development efforts can be made. The training program curriculum can then also be focused on the desired level of capability. A two or three tiered differentiation can be made. The base level can be referred to as essential, basic, or core. The second level can be termed advanced, refined, extended, or accelerated.
The final tier can be named mastery, elevated, honors, or excellence. Sometimes a more pressing delineation to make for competencies is to distinguish those related to the self, interfacing with others, and finally organizational system oriented ones. However the competency levels are broken down, they need to be linked to identified target audiences with regards roles, as well as the intended application.
Integrate with Existing Initiatives
Examine existing learning initiatives in the organization and determine which initiatives are no longer relevant because they no longer support the strategies of the organization, and which initiatives are currently addressing the required competencies and, therefore, need to remain. Introducing relevant reinforcing messages or activities into existing initiatives, where appropriate, can provide good traction for the identified new development outcomes. This helps differentiate between what is being addressed to what still needs to be done.
Any new training program curriculum needs to address the gaps established to ensure the desired outcomes are reached.
Include the Stakeholders
Recognize who can affect the training program and who can be affected by it. Highlight the key leverage players and recognize their expectations. Then see which of these expectations can be met by the program and what communications are needed in order to manage the met, or unmet, expectations. Also decide on which stakeholders need to be involved in the design and delivery stages of the program and what form their involvement needs to take. Communication with stakeholders before, during, and after the training program is essential.
Create the Framework
Map each of the learning components so that the order of the development process is established and the delivery pieces identified. Both the methods of delivery and the development support mechanisms that are needed must be decided upon. The target audience’s possible learning styles should also be taken into consideration.
Organize the Logistics
Create a checklist of the actions to take before, during, and after a training program is delivered. Think the initiative through to the finest delivery detail, as every detail counts to reinforce and support the learning process and its impact. This includes the first point of contact with participants and stakeholders through to the final communication needed.
Design formatted templates for the selection of candidates, the support action required from managers, invitations, checkpoint emails, and briefings for venues and other service providers. Consider the positioning of the training program through consistent branding and focused marketing. Constructing a project plan to implement and manage the training program is an expedient move to make.
Deliver the Plan
Ensure the program and its development outcomes remain aligned to the strategic needs of the organization. Then, throughout the implementation of the plan, keep people accountable, track progress made, and adjust where necessary. Keep the lines of communication open with the participants throughout the duration of the training program. Participants need to feel supported in this endeavor.
Measure and Improve
For a training curriculum to have sustainable impact, benchmarking can be a part of a longitudinal measure of results. Ultimately, it is about fit for purpose and measurements need to include a level of self-reflection, as well as evidence of application and positive results in the workplace.
Include application of principles learned to real situations or challenges in the workplace. Let senior management critique recommendations, decisions, or plans and provide feedback. Think carefully about the questions to ask as part of any measurement, and include opportunities to keep improving the program.
If the program is not going to be repeated, consideration may go to videoing components of it and using it as self-directed learning for new members of the target audience so as to keep impacting the culture. If the program is to be an annual event, then thought needs to be given to optimizing the energy generated from having multiple groups exposed to a similar learning experience.
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