Training the Trainer: 5 Essential Training Design Questions

A while back, I wrote about some key questions to ask when determining whether training is even the right tool.  Assuming that training is the right tool, here are five additional questions a designer should ask when developing a training intervention:

Question #1: What will success look like?

This drives your learning objectives, any assessment activities you’ll develop and is the measuring stick against which you can determine the ultimate value of the training intervention. Is success defined as increased knowledge (and if so, what will that look like)?  Is success quantitative (and if so, what metrics will you use)?

Question #2: What happens if no training is offered?

Assuming that some type of training intervention is the correct tool, the question behind this question is: is formal training the only solution?  What’s the worst thing that would happen if an employee is not given access to formal training?  Would informal learning (a book, a trade journal, credible blogs, involvement in a community of practice) be a better approach?  And if so, how will that be monitored and followed-up?

Question #3: Who needs to be involved in the training design?

If an SME is developing the training, does she need assistance making the training engaging and eliminating unnecessary jargon so the language used will be accessible for the learners?  If someone from HR (or the learning & development team or some other department) is developing the training, who else should be involved in order to ensure a key person in the organization will serve as a champion for the intervention?

Question #4: What kind of follow-up and support is needed?

As motivated as even the highest of achievers may be, if he doesn’t have ongoing support in the pursuit of a new skill, the chances of mastery will drop and the chances that he will revert to the old ways of doing things will rise.  Should a supervisor be following up?  Should the training facilitator be responsible for checking in?

Question #5: When will success (or failure) be declared?

While question #1 asked what success would look like, question #5 asks when victory should be declared?  Perhaps when someone uses the new skill once?  When the team has used the new project plan system for a year?  And what should happen if the answer to question #1 (what will success look like?) is never actually observed?

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3 thoughts on “Training the Trainer: 5 Essential Training Design Questions

  1. I found this blog to be very educational and beneficial. Two of the five questions really jump out at me and many times go overlooked. “What happens if no training is offered?” If no official training is offered, many times workers or students fail to realize the importance of a change. They feel they have been neglected and if they are not worthy of official training on a new topic or idea, they should not be expected to follow through with the proper changes. Looking at today’s economy many organizations do not have the resources to offer official hands on training or instruction regarding a new change process or a topic that may be failing currently. Either way the changes still need to occur, so it is important that the entire team understands that training can come in an array of ways. Blogs, online training, handbooks, and etc… are just a few examples of ways that official training can occur other than attending a planned out training session. This will still get the necessary information across to all team players in a less expensive and time consuming manner. It is vital that all team players take these types of training as serious as official training sessions.
    The next question, “What kind of follow-up and support is needed?” is also a crucial question to consider when designing any form of training. This is most often overlooked by the organizations training team due to the mere belief that once the training has been provided it is up to the team players to carry through with the expected changes and so forth. While in reality, follow-up and support when necessary are vital to all effective change processes. Training team players is one task, but following up and making sure that each individual understands their role in the change process and is able to carry out their role is even more crucial than the training itself. This is where trainers can correct errors, build self-esteem, and provide praise to the individual team players that make up the organization. This is what will make the change process effective in the long run. It will allow all team players to work on the same page and work toward the same goal.
    Great blog, that provides great insight.

    • Thanks for the comments (and compliments)! Your second point (training needs follow up… kind of like a plant needs water) is spot on – very few change efforts (whether professional development or organizational change) succeed without intentional, strategic follow up.

      The question about: what happens if training isn’t offered is an interesting one. You’re right, if training isn’t offered and it’s needed, then employees will indeed feel neglected. Another side of that question is: is “training” really the answer. I’ve had colleagues insist we continue to offer training on certain topics we’ve covered in the past. In my opinion, more training in those instances wasn’t the answer – and this goes back to the point about follow-up and support. Sometimes training is seen as some type of mythical, magical bullet when in reality, a supervisor needs to simply spend some time on follow-up on and provide coaching on an issue (as opposed to sending someone to a training class). Thanks for the thoughtful comments!!

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