Queen Elizabeth II
And who would argue with the Queen? Not I! So here we have the most commonly used definitions of training:
Training is the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of improving one's capability, capacity, and performance
Organized activity aimed at imparting information and/or instructions to improve the recipient's performance or to help him or her attain a required level of knowledge or skill.
the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behaviour:
Okay, so that's simple enough, training is teaching a skill to someone else, we can handle that. But how do you train? Where do you start? and what does good training actually look like - are there benchmarks, a checklist, well here's the start of this months soapbox; training and competencies.
Tip 0: Make a PlanWhy do you need a plan? Well in many cases you already have this plan inside the employees development plan or annual appraisal, it may be a training plan as part of a software rollout, or new process that is being implemented. Training doesn't happen by itself, you need to make a plan for how you manage training; either for you team or your project - what are you going to do, your manager, your HR department, IT, 3rd party vendor etc. Planning allows you the time to pull out issues like time, budget, priorities and resourcing that you need to be aware of before commitments are made and expectations set. It will also influence how much time you can spend on the following.
Tip 1: Understand your ObjectivesThis sounds so simple, and in reality it is. Avoid woolly statements like "I want my staff to be effective in their duties" and replace them with "Staff must be able to create style template in word, and use those styles to create complex documents"
You can get some help here from course outlines, so for example, if you know your staff's Office skills need some attention look at the course objectives to give you an idea of how to structure your objectives. The actual need for training should be defined in the staff appraisal process or general observations.
If the training has no clear objective then you must ask yourself why it is needed, from a records perspective this often comes back as "but we have to for compliance reasons", that is no reason at all to deliver training. People's time is precious and if you cant articulate the benefit of training then the training itself is starting off well behind the eight ball.
Tip 2: Understand your learnerAgain this isn't complicated, but too often we overlook the learners needs and assume that everyone will learn through an online e learning tool, or a face to face lecture. But if training is to be effective it has to, wherever possible, be tailored to the trainees needs. And yes guys, those "training needs analysis" exercises we used to conduct are still incredibly relevant! Don't assume that the best bang for buck is a classroom course, in some cases it could be mentoring, or access to webcasts and even dare I say it instructional you tube videos.
Tip 3: Understand your trainerWhether this is an in house or outsourced role, you also need to be aware of your trainer's style, the amount of hands on versus classroom lecture that they will naturally deliver. Like learners, all trainers have a style of their own and you need to be aware of that and assess it for fit before you proceed. How experienced are they, do they understand the organisation and have they done this before.
Tip 4: Test the waterWhen you are delivering new training or old training through a new medium, test it out first, check the preconceptions you have, the assumptions you have made and get some objective feedback. This could be gained from within the organisation, through a service provider, contractor, professional colleague etc. But in cases of large projects and wherever significant money is being spent, test it out before you let real people lose.
Tip 5: Measurable ResultsFor any training to be effective, you have to be able to measure its success, whether this is an increase in confidence to deliver workshops, a more assertive staff member, a team member who can now manage the organisations templates, or be the site administrator etc. If the training is measurable then you will have more success with the individual as they can see direct benefit (WIIFM) but also for the organisation. Training budgets are often the first things to get cut in times of economic strain and so having your training aligned to the business' objectives, and being able to demonstrate qualitatively or quantitatively the effectiveness of your choices, increased your credibility and has a downstream affect then on your future training requests and recommendations.
OK so 5 tips to start with, I know you have comments - lets hear them :)