Contributed by Michelle Laurey
Michelle Laurey is a VA for small businesses. She writes for Goalcast, Swaay, EfforlessHR, and many others. Outside her keyboard, she spends time with her Kindle library and binge-watching Billions. Her superpower? Vinyasa flow! Talk to her on LinkedIn or Twitter @michelle_laurey, or send her an email to get in touch.
Nearly every organization recognizes the importance of training employees to further their development.
If you are thinking about teaching your employees new skills, you need to know how to create a custom training program. This means knowing which tools to use and how to organize your program.
In this article, we’re going to cover all the checkpoints for creating a custom training program that will benefit your employees and your organization.
Table of Contents
Determine the Skills and Processes You Need to Train For
A custom training program starts with figuring out what skills and processes your organization needs.
Before you can start writing a training program, you must identify the skills you’re missing so the program can effectively change that.
A thorough analysis will lead you to the right answer without wasting your organization’s resources, time, and energy.
To identify the missing skills, you can use:
- Company goals. If you know what your goals are, you can decide what skills your employees need to achieve them.
- HR complaints. When you review employee complaints, you can tell which areas other employees are lacking in, such as leadership, stress management, etc.
- Current employee skills. One way of figuring out what skills your organization lacks is determining what skills it already has. An employee performance appraisal template can help with this.
- Legal obligations. Your training program must meet all government and legal requirements, such as Occupational Safety, or other state-specific requirements.
- Customer feedback. A service review often shows which skills are missing for a better user experience.
Use HR for Trainee Consideration
HR is your natural first stop when it comes to picking the right trainees. HR departments are passionate about developing the skills of your team. Since your HR team has plenty of experience handling workers’ progress, it is vital to involve them from the beginning.
Naturally, they already have plenty of information about your employees’ individual background knowledge, previous experiences, skills, and needs. That is why you should always consult with your HR before you start picking candidates for the trainee program.
For example, you can use HR to survey your employees and provide valuable feedback on which trainees you should pick based on their abilities and development potential. That way, your HR department can directly tell you which trainees to consider and what skills you should teach them.
Establish Clear Goals and Measure Their Achievement
Every custom training program needs to have clearly defined goals and expected outcomes. As you’re designing the curriculum, each of its lessons must be aligned with its goal.
This means that the play actually starts with the end goal in mind.
These are the chief reasons why goal setting is critical:
- They give you the vision to aim for and drive you forward.
- They break complicated, hard-to-achieve goals into smaller tasks that add to the big picture.
- They hold team members accountable.
- They remove all the disruptions, noise, and distractions.
Once you’ve set the goals for your training program, you can focus on the parameters for measuring how well your team has achieved them.
There are 3 tiers to measuring goal achievement:
- Goal relevance. See if the learning outcome has addressed the specific skill pain points the trainee had before attending the program.
- Qualitative outcomes. You should include precise and comparable stats and amounts that help you measure the success of achieved outcomes.
- A deadline. When you set a deadline, it creates a sense of urgency and gives you a time-specific metric to measure goal achievement.
After you’ve established clear goals, you have a steady foundation for your custom training program.
Find a Trainer
Whether you conduct the training program entirely in-house or delegate it to an expert outside of the organization, the trainer’s role is a critically important one.
While your organization’s leaders and managers are in charge of planning and creating a custom training program, they’re often not the ones teaching new skills to trainees. Their job is to find the ideal person to do so.
The ideal trainer will have the technical knowledge and people skills to make sure the trainees meet the program’s goals.
There are 2 option when choosing trainers.
- An in-house trainer is somebody you know and trust, but who provides no outside value. They will need to be reassigned from his/her post to perform training duties, which can hurt your organization’s workflow.
- An outside trainer has references, a trackable record of teaching, and can advise you on how to make your program a better learning experience. A trainer from a different company also provides outside value.
When finding a trainer, always prioritize their teaching abilities and their history of meeting learning outcomes.
Establish a Training Calendar
Training calendars are a powerful tool for designing an effective custom training program for your business or organization.
A training calendar makes it easy to schedule the learning sessions and stay ahead of any setbacks and delays. It defines the training courses, summarizes the learning materials and lessons, and establishes the learning routine for trainees.
Formatting a training calendar does not require a lot of work, yet it offers a lot of benefits by enabling learning accountability. Most importantly, it stops your employees from being overwhelmed with learning while performing their usual tasks. This way, training does not cause additional costs caused by poor performance.
The benefits of a training calendar include:
- easier management of the upskilling process
- trackable progress on a weekly basis
- keeping ahead of schedule disruptions
- easily shareable calendar updates and changes
- eliminating the need for trainees to work outside of working hours
A training calendar is indispensable for mapping out the progress of your custom training program.
If you haven’t written a training calendar before, you can check some of these templates to start things off.
Prepare and Share Materials Ahead of Time
Your trainers and trainees need the right materials to get the job done. Having the materials prepared ahead of time will save you and your staff from stressful last-minute changes, directly impacting the success of your custom training program.
When your materials are easily available, your trainers and trainees can access them whenever they need to, and perform their responsibilities best.
There are a handful of methods you can use to make sure everything is ready before the program begins:
- See what kind of materials you’ll need (flip charts, infographics, text files, presentation slides, etc.).
- Use cloud-based solutions, such as Google Drive, to enable quick access to every staff member.
- Consult with trainers for materials in advance.
- Set a material review date before the training program begins, so you have the time to re-edit it if needed.
When you’ve prepared all the learning materials, you have given your staff the tools they need to complete the training. Make sure you send the materials to your trainees before the training to give them the chance to familiarize themselves with the content of the program.
Decide on the Format
The training program format will be determined by the skill you’re trying to teach.
When you choose a format for your training program, you frame the learning experience. Think of it as the best way to execute the program.
The deciding factors for picking the format are:
- the deadline
- office size
- your organization’s technological resources
- the level of the program’s difficulty
- number of trainees
After you’ve taken these factors into account, you can assess your options. For instance, you can decide between hosting extensive workshops at your organization’s headquarters or organizing 1-on-1 learning sessions.
The format of the learning experience will accommodate the specific needs of the program. Keep in mind that extensive learning modules are usually unnecessary — often, a short seminar-style experience will be the best solution.
Learning how to host a seminar can be tricky at first, but it’s the most effective solution in terms of time and cost.
Gather Feedback During and After the Training
Getting feedback from the trainees is a critically important part of the training process. Without the trainees’ feedback, you won’t be able to evaluate how well they did, what needs to be improved, and whether the trainer should be entrusted with running the program again.
Set up an evaluation system before the training program begins. This way, you’ll have a way of collecting feedback data and measuring your organization’s return of investment.
If the training program has several sessions, it is a good idea to collect feedback after each session. Doing this will allow you to change your training program on-the-go if it fails to deliver results.
The most common ways of collecting feedback during and after training are:
- 1-on-1 discussions
- participant case studies
- certification exams
- focus groups
Gathering feedback provides insight on how your employees have reacted to the training, what you should change or add to your program, and how valuable the learning experience was.
In this article, we’ve covered the fundamentals of creating a custom training program for your employees, from choosing which skills your organization needs to gathering feedback after the training program is complete.
Custom training programs give you a chance to teach your employees customizable knowledge. Armed with that knowledge, they can reach their full potential — to the benefit of your organization.
Follow these tips and your organization will have a great idea how to start executing an effective learning experience that will benefit both your organization and its employees.