TRAINING is a critical investment that companies are making for growing and retaining their employees in today’s knowledge-based economy.

HR managers and senior management assess the effectiveness of such training by asking questions like: “What was the impact of the training?”; “Did it improve the performance of the trainees?” and, “Did the training bring measurable differences to the company’s bottom line?”

Trainers must therefore ensure that they help companies to meet their training objectives. Here are some suggestions on providing effective training.

1. Determine the performance gap

Effective training begins with identifying an organisation’s needs and its ability to meet these needs. A training needs analysis (TNA) can be conducted through surveys or interviews with the participants and their superiors. 

The TNA identifies the difference between what the participants can do and what they must do. This is called a performance gap. Training is expected to close this gap.

2. Know your learners

Before you develop your training programme, find out as much as you can about your participants — their job roles, literacy levels, age group and other relevant information. 

As you will be training adult learners, an understanding of Malcolm Knowles’ theory of andragogy (the art and science of teaching adults) is important. For example, adults have accumulated experience which they like to share with others. As a trainer, you need to find ways for this sharing to occur.

3. Motivate them to learn

Tell your learners what’s in it for them (WIIFT) to learn what you are teaching. Spell out clearly the benefits of what the training course will cover. For example, you could say: “Learn this technique of coaching and you will become a better team leader, enjoy your work more and get promoted faster.”  

4. Organise your content

Put your training materials together in a logical sequence. Break them up into lessons or modules. Ensure that each module builds upon the next.

Always start by highlighting what each training module will cover, then define the learning objectives of the module. Make sure that there are not too many objectives in one module as this could overwhelm  the trainees.

5. Provide useful support materials

Training is not just a one-time event that ends after a two-day workshop. It is ongoing and needs to be supported well after the training session has been completed. Therefore, the trainer should provide supporting materials for the transfer of knowledge with materials such as handouts, workbooks and reference guides.

A workbook, other than providing details of each training session, can provide a space for the learner to fill in information as he progresses through the training. A reference guide should contain key ideas or techniques for the learner to refer to when necessary. 

6. Evaluate and improve your training programme

A training programme should deliver the business results expected by the company. Global training consultants Don and Jim Kirkpatrick have suggested training evaluations at four levels — reaction, learning, behaviour and results.

That means, for an effective training programme, trainers expect learners to react in a positive way (level 1) and to learn useful information (level 2).  Trainers also want to see changes in behaviour (level 3) and expect this behaviour to deliver results for the business (level 4).

Thus, a course evaluation should involve more than handing out forms for participants to fill in at the end of a training programme. By implementing four-level evaluations, trainers can continuously improve on the programmes they offer.

Offering value

Whether you are a new trainer or a veteran with many years’ experience, you need to continually evaluate your training programmes’ effectiveness.

Only then can you be sure that you are delivering value to your clients. Meeting their business needs means better business for you too.