*This is an excerpt from a larger work on training plan development and administration*
Delivering an effective training plan relies on equally effective planning. It’s critical that the training focuses on the right elements to ensure that confusion and distraction are minimized. Anything that takes away from the heart of the training’s purpose should be removed or reconsidered. To ensure this, the planning phase of training development requires special attention.
Let’s take a look at two essential steps in the training plan creation process. The first and perhaps most important step is going to be to conduct research. If you are going to conduct training, you must have something to say. Experts can draw on their own experience and knowledge base for ideas and information, but we will usually need to venture outside our own expertise to some degree to establish a truly effective training. Traditional library sources, as well as online or other digital sources, would apply, provided the information is properly vetted. These include Magazine and Newspaper articles, online or otherwise, or even social media and blog sites. It’s always important to ensure your information is current, so in the case of using print media be certain to note the date of publication. You will also want to be certain that you are evaluating the strength of your sources, especially in the case of Web items. Note the publisher of the item in question and any biases that might be associated with that source. Is the information linked somehow to a product or service? If so, its reliability is compromised and should not be used. Almanacs, yearbooks, sportscasts – just about any publicized report can be used so long as the information is verifiable, available for public use, and of course relevant. Other examples include interviews, essays, and even photos. In many cases, an interview of the trainees before a plan is developed is a great way to gauge not only what information is necessary or missing, but how best to deliver effective training. After all, each audience is different.
Next, we need to develop the training content. This is defined as the information, definitions, descriptions, concepts, and skills that you will be presenting to your trainees. This phase can be thought of as the “heart of the training session,” so one can see this step is necessary for a healthy, effective plan. The overall objective is to focus on trainee needs. Any item in the training plan should be directly connected to an identified trainee need. The research phase is going to provide an immense quantity of data, so it’s imperative that we pare that information down to the essential items relevant to the training or we risk overwhelming our trainees with data that might not connect to their needs. One could organize the data according to each objective to ensure the information connects. It’s important to sketch out the details in a direct but open fashion so each item can be followed up on and refined later. Noting important page numbers or dates for later follow-up is a great tactic, and can help in combing through the information to determine which info is directly linked to the objectives and which is not, ensuring we don’t waste time developing information that we later determine is irrelevant.
For instance, in developing training for instruction on workplace safety, our research will pull data ranging from frequency and severity of workplace accidents to sample polling data collected from the employees demonstrating their awareness and understanding of workplace safety. It will be important to judge how each item links to the objective proposed in the training needs assessment – Are we seeking to simply educate the employees on the importance of workplace safety? If so, sample facts and figures might be relevant, along with anecdotes and examples of past events. However, it’s more likely we are attempting to train a particular item to improve workplace safety… if that is the case, focusing on proper lifting form or use of equipment will be more important than presenting numerous bits of sample data.