Training programs hold a major responsibility in each organization. They are responsible for preparing new or existing employees for gaining new skills or higher proficiencies on their new career path or new assignments.
If the training programs are organized properly, they help employees achieve their maximum potential and they assure that their deliverables are implemented with high quality.
If the trainings are organized poorly, they will cause frustrations and quality issues for employees when working on their new assignments.
Building a training program is not a simple task. It is not even a one-time process. The structure of the program needs to be carefully built, incorporating feedback from the subject matter experts, past trainees and as well from the managers who could coordinate such efforts. After a certain structure is achieved, it needs to be gradually revised with the feedback from the employees who are passing it.
In terms of organization, I see the following elements as part of a training program content structure:
- Objectives definition. Each training program should have very clear defined expectations. Each trainee should know very well the reason why he or she is enrolled in the training program and as well what should be the primary or secondary outcomes once the training program has been completed.
- Required skillset. There are rare occasions in organizations when a training program introduces itself as “for dummies”. Usually there is a need to add or enhance a particular skill, and usually you need to have a certain foundation based on which you can add the skill. So, each training program should clearly state what are the skills that one needs to have in order to be able to pass it without big difficulties.
- Evaluated skills. Even though the outcome of the training should be stated in the Objectives Definition section, several other skills could be evaluated as well during the training. Some examples of evaluated skills could be attention to details or using certain best practices.
- Training exercises and/or training projects plus scoring. This should describe the activities, exercises or the practical projects that would be needed in order to develop the requested skill. In addition to that, each activity or exercise should be evaluated with a number of points which once solved, they should pile up to form a final grade.
- Time period. Every training program should have a specific time span agreed with the subject matter experts in order to make the trainee focused on completing the exercises on time. If no time period is provided, one can lose focus and do some other stuff not related to training, which eventually would mean waste of time and resources.
- Available learning resources. This section should list all the available learning resources that the candidate could use in order to acquire the new skill. I would say, the more resources they are, the better.
- Escalation Points. It is natural that at some point during a training process to get stuck or to have some questions about why certain things work or don’t work as they should. Having a person that could assist you during training is super helpful. This section should provide contact info for the available persons which can be contacted by the trainees.
- FAQ. Some questions could be commonly asked by a large number of trainees. Having an FAQ section in place can improve could potentially reduce the time spent by the trainee looking for common answers.
The elements above represents what I consider a good starting point for a training program structure. As previously said, this should be of coursed on iterative design process that needs to be refined each and every time feedback is received from the people who attend the trainings.
One additional fact to consider is that each trainee should feel that they had a good experience while following the training. That’s because no matter how good the organization is, if they felt stressed out, then most probably not much knowledge will remain with them on the long run.