5 Tips for Achieving Unprecedented Training Success

September 2, 2015

This week, we revisit the progress of Rob Berry, winner of last year’s Don Kirkpatrick Scholarship awarded by the Valley of the Sun chapter of ATD.

Rob’s team has experienced unprecedented training success in their organization since implementing new strategies based on the Kirkpatrick methodology.

Read on to get 5 straightforward tips from Rob that can help you achieve the same remarkable results.

It’s been about seven months since I completed the Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification Program – Bronze Level, and the results of putting these theories into practice are really beginning to show.

In my last update, I shared that the first action I took after completing the program was to redesign our development process. I started by creating a series of tools that my instructional designers would use to own the entire ADDIE process from beginning to end. The new tools have helped my instructional design team create more effective training programs while streamlining development and improving our relationship with internal business partners. Here’s a summary of what we’ve experienced…

1. It starts with Analysis for a reason.

The intake tool* allows us to conduct a thorough learning needs analysis on every project before we start development. This is so critical, I don’t know how we managed without it. We meet with our internal partners and SMEs and ensure everyone is aligned on the business goals of the project. This keeps us all focused and moving in the same direction.

2. Learning Objectives – first things last.

Sounds crazy, right? But the last thing we discuss during the intake meeting is the learning objectives. Instead, we spend the bulk of our time modelling the desired behaviors for the end user. These are the behaviors that, in a perfect world, if every end user exhibited, would ensure the success of the project. Only after we’ve clearly identified these behaviors do we discuss the necessary information and skills that an end user will need in order to exhibit the desired behaviors. This data then becomes our Learning Objectives.

3. Don’t be order takers. Be solution providers.

When your car makes a weird noise and you take it to the mechanic, do you tell him exactly what you want him to do in order to fix it? Probably not…most of us would rather trust the mechanic’s expertise and the recommendation he provides. 

It’s the same with instructional design – our purpose is to provide a solution, and that solution can take a number of possible forms depending on the learning need:

  • Got a bunch of learners who are spread out over a wide geographic area and are seeing the information for the first time? We recommend a recorded webinar or an elearning course with a knowledge assessment. 
  • What about a smaller audience of more experienced learners who need refresher training on a specific procedure? We suggest a short instructor-led training or interactive video that shows the full procedure, and job aids to help the learners quickly recall the information at their moment of need.

The point is that until we’ve done a detailed analysis of the problem, we won’t be able to determine the appropriate solution. That’s why we avoid discussing learning solutions until we’ve had a chance to analyze the information presented during the intake. We help our partners understand that we are committed to developing the best possible learning solution – the one that has the highest probability of accomplishing their business goals.

4. Avoid “scope creep.”

We’ve all been there. It’s Friday and three days out from your deadline, and you’re just putting the final touches on a project, when a SME walks up to your desk and casually informs you that in addition to the recorded webinar you just finished, you’ll also need to make a facilitator’s guide with detailed slide notes so it can be delivered in person as well. “Sure, no problem,” you say with a strained smile, as your weekend plans crumble before your eyes.

There will always be adjustments and last-minute asks – that’s the nature of our business. But there’s a lot you can do to make these 11th hour requests the exception rather than the rule.

After we analyze the intake, my team and I create a design document* in which we lay out all the learning objectives and how we intend to communicate them. The intent of this document is two-fold:

1. It serves as a development outline for the ID team.

2. It ensures that all the critical information discussed in our intake is included in the training program.

Having all SMEs and business partners agree with and sign off on this document helps prevent the dreaded “scope creep” and last-minute additions that really throw a wrench in development.

5. Prove your success.

Using our new process, we recently developed a wide array of training solutions for a national marketing promotion, including a promotional video, an interactive elearning course and skills assessment, and performance support tools. We’re currently wrapping up the event, and the success is unprecedented – our franchises surpassed every sales, retail, and membership goal that was set for them.

To help link training to business success, we compared our training completion numbers with field business metrics, and found direct correlations between locations with high training adoption and those with outstanding operational performance. Also, for the first time we gave our users the opportunity to provide us with a Yelp-style review of the training they received for this event. The results speak for themselves:

The feedback provided by our users was invaluable, not only in evaluating the effectiveness of our training material, but also in determining how we can build on our success to create even better training in the future.

* To access downloadable, customizable copies of the intake form and design document that Rob created, visit the Resources tab, log in to the site (or register if you do not already have an account), scroll down to the Kirkpatrick® Diagrams and Forms category, and click on “Sample Intake Form” and “Design Document.”

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We hope you enjoyed this update, and we’d love to hear what strategies you’ve used to achieve training success. Here are some ways to join the conversation:

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Additional Resources

Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification Program – Bronze Level

Training on Trial

Avoid Miscommunication and Scope Creep in Your Training Programs

ATD-VOS 2015 Don Kirkpatrick Scholarship

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