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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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