The 10 sequential steps of what I call The Training Process include: 1) organizational performance analysis; 2) training-needs integration plan; 3) competency descriptions; 4) learning objectives; 5) participant analysis; 6) learning design; 7) evaluation and measurement; 8 ) learning program administration; 9) reporting individual progress, and 10) assessing organizational achievement.
Those ten steps will greatly enhance organizational effectiveness, and drive business performance.
1. Organizational performance analysis is based on the idea that training programs can be part of the solution to organizational performance problems. This first step, then, involves examining operational data to identify possible organizational problem areas, conducting reality tests to verify problems, determining behavioral and nonbehavioral causes of problems and deciding on behavioral and non-behavioral solutions to causes.
Training, then, is a potential solution to a behavioral problem cause. In addition, some training may be required to solve the problem, and some may be desired but not required. In this first step, the trainer must be proactive and competent at involving line managers in a problem-solving, decision-making process that leads to both training and nontraining solutions to key organizational problems. The trainer is, in effect, process consultant at this point rather than a content expert.
2. A training-needs integration plan should be a one-page statement of responsibility and accountability that identifies who is to do what, by when and at what estimated cost.
It incorporates the responsibility of the training department to implement the training part of the solution. It also includes the responsibilities of other departments to implement nontraining solutions. It serves as the basis for assessing organizational achievement (step 10).
In a sense, the training-needs integration plan is a contract in which everyone involved makes a commitment to some action. The training depart¬ment should prepare the plan and dis¬tribute copies to the other people involved. Both steps 1 and 2 are really part of the training manager’s job.
Such a plan forces consensus, gives training membership in management, provides for the sharing of responsibility, clarifies the training required, promotes thorough planning, creates realistic solutions and gives training a businesslike image in the organization.
3. A competency description looks at a job family and describes the competent performer. It includes basic knowledge, areas where deep understanding is required, skills, values, attitudes and interests. It cov¬ers the cognitive, behavioral and affective aspects of job performance, and describes the performer, not the job to be performed.
Essentially, it serves as a basis for learning objectives. Without competency descriptions, objectives will tend to be only knowledge or skill focused. Frequently, some important objectives will be omitted from the training pro¬gram if you aren’t aware of what constitutes competency.
4. Creation of learning objectives is based on the work of Robert Mager as it relates to goal analysis and to writing behavioral objectives, including performance, conditions and criteria. It is also based on the work of Malcolm Knowles and his concepts of self-directed learning and learning-contract development.
5. Participant analysis seeks to identify not only who will participate in the training but in what order people will participate. An important part of this step is deciding how to structure learning groups in terms of size, sex, age, experience, etc., so that participants have maximum learning opportunities.
6. Learning design, incorporates the best arrangement of time, methods, materials, media, equipment and instructor resources. The design must have flow and rhythm and meet the learning objectives in the most effective and efficient manner.
The design is created before any learning materials are developed. Part of what is derived from the design step of The Training Process is an accurate projection of how much the course will cost in terms of money and time. It also allows you to identify what instructor competencies will be required.
7. Evaluation and measurement are not the same. Evaluation deter¬mines how much learners learned and whether or not the course does what it is supposed to do. That is, did people learn what you intended them to? Measurement refers to the procedures employed to reach an evaluation; examples are tests, questionnaires, observation and interviews.
This step in the Process requires an evaluation design and trainer competency at correctly utilizing procedures so that valid conclusions are reached.
8. Learning program administration is involved with contingency planning. It considers the learning design and then tries to predict what will or could go wrong before, during and after the learning program is con¬ducted. Examples include travel arrangements, hotel accommodations, food service, schedules, equipment failures and learning reinforcement.
9. Reporting individual progress considers the types of reporting for¬mats that are appropriate for different people. For instance, there should be different ways to report results to high-level executives and to the immediate supervisor of a trainee. Philosophical questions concerning confidentiality, organizational politics and affirmative action laws all require answers at this point.
10. Assessing organizational achievement. This step brings the Process full circle back to steps 1 and 2 and examines whether or not everyone who was responsible for some organizational improvement solution lived up to his or her commitment. It recognizes that training alone cannot make significant, long-lasting organizational changes.
This step assesses the results of training in relation to the other solution activities that were implemented. Additionally, this step prevents trainers from being unfairly blamed for poor organizational performance. In effect, it can help analyze and clarify exactly where blame or credit should be placed.