Design a training program for employee

How to design a training program for employees

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Questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, we have all ask that question during an interview. ‘I see myself managing a bigger team effectively and making measurable contribution to the organization’. You are impressed, candidate hired and the subject never comes up again. This a familiar story with most of our new hires, could even be your own story, and this is what could lead us to how to design a training program for your employees.

The questions we miss asking the candidate during the recruitment process are:

How do you plan to do that?

How can we support you in doing that?.

And these questions are what materialize the ambition of the candidate, while aligning it with your organization’s goal. In the end, that is the key to success when creating a learning culture.

Training and development are the answers to this gap in process. But this does not mean that the employee should spend half their time in a classroom or online doing training courses. In fact, the opposite is true. That is why designing a development program for your team is key to their success in your organisation.

70-20-10 Model

The 70-20-10 model is a good example, amongst others learning models in the industry, to show learning happen mostly outside a training room. According to this model 70% of learning is experiential, 20% is social and 10% is formal. So, your employees learn 10% from the instructor lead training program, 20% from interacting with you and the other team members, while 70% comes from getting his/her hands dirty working on a project or assignment. Having said that, it is crucial that you include all three components and have a structure around it.  In this article we will talk about a few essences of training and development that will help you to build a learning culture and making the most out of it.

Alignment between your objectives and their objectives

There are some basic pillars that holds the framework of training and development in an organization. For this structure to work it is critical that first and foremost, you align it to the business and personal goals of your employees. For instance; your sales team investing time in training to increasing the volume of sales, does not align to your business objective of developing lasting relationship to increase repeat customers. In a similar manner, mentoring a waitress to become a shift leader is not productive when her goal is to become an award-winning bartender.

So, alignment is key, and when you are certain of where the organization is heading; the next step is to complete an in-depth training and development need assessment.

Complete a Training Need Analysis (TNA)

A Training Need Analysis (TNA) is a matrix of information that is rooted into the larger organization-wide landscape. It is the combination of three core elements –  

  1. Goals :As mentioned, goals should include both the organization and the employees. It is also important to identify the immediate or urgent priorities as well as the long-term vision. Many a times, entrepreneur and HR leaders are caught up with the now and today, that the bigger picture tends to fade in the background.
  2. KSA: Training and development focus on three aspects of an employee; knowledge, skills and attitude also known as KSA. There are three facets of KSA that is required for a TNA. The first one is the identification of gaps, second is the root cause of these gaps and the final one is the ideal target KSA results.
  3. Stakeholders: It takes a village to raise a child and that is true for training and development too. It requires the involvement and commitment of the entire organization. It is necessary to identify what role each stakeholder plays while also considering the multigenerational workforce of today. A stakeholder can be a learner, a trainer, a coach, a mentor or a fellow learning partner.

The TNA result in a Training and Development Strategic Plan which maps the structure of all the stakeholders involved, development programs required, training medium, target dates as well as expected results.

Remember, this plan in itself is an objective of the organization and should be created in the SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound).

Training Need Analysis (TNA) HR for SMES blog

The strategic Learning Culture Plan

The strategic plan you have as a result of this exercise is a great starting point, however executing it requires resilience and dedication. This is what becomes the foundation of an organization’s Learning Culture.

Post-training reinforcement is a great aid but even with the best of intention, it is very possible for the learning and development programs to lose its appeal.

Managers may get distracted to support the program or employees get disappointed from lack of material result. It is thus, necessary to make the program sustainable.

Some of the ways to develop and sustain a learning culture

  1. Getting the buy-in from all stakeholder
  2. Developing a systematic framework of short-term and long-term learning programs so everybody in the organization is aware of what to expect and when
  3. Creating engagement that holds the ever-reducing attention span of employees, their time and motivation. This can be done in various ways such as;
    1. Just-In-Time Learning – Learning that creates change in behavior happens when it is a response to immediate need.
    2. Bite Size Learning / micro learning to tackle the time and attention issue.
    3. Blended Learning / Social learning / Coaching programs to cover all the bases of the 70/20/10 model.
    4. Medium of Delivery, so the programs are accessible to all the employees with different preference to learning, and finally.
    5. Leveraging Technology – Technology is ever evolving and it is important for you to keep up with the development and find new ways to use it in your learning programs.
  4. Reward and Recognition : Everybody needs to be recognized and rewarded for their effort. A training certificate or a gift voucher to the spa does have its value, but organizations often fail to incorporate these plans into the employee’s performance review process. This is where sustenance comes into play. For example, an employee’s performance rating should also depend on how much effort they put into their training. Or a manager’s rating should depend on their contribution towards coaching and mentoring their team. Combining these two processes correspondingly supports the entrepreneurs and HR leaders in the succession planning of the company.
  5. Marketing and Communication / Visibility

Key steps to know how to design a training program for your employees

  1. Your first step is to develop your Training Needs Analysis
    • What are your GOALS?
    • Who are your STAKEHOLDERS and what roles will they play?
    • understanding the KSA – gaps, root cause of these gaps and target KSA result. 
  2. The Training Need Analysis will result in a Training and Development Strategic Plan. This plan should be a map of:
    • Stakeholders involved.
    • Development programs required
    • Training medium,
    • Target dates as well as expected results.
  3. Three Things to keep in mind:
    • Permanent learning happens when you use the 70/20/10 model.
    • All objectives should be in the SMART format.
    • Sustainable learning culture is what determines the success of the program. You can create this by getting buy-ins from stakeholders, creating structured short-term and long-term plans, creating engagement, incorporating rewards and recognition and finally making the programs visible to all. 

As a passionate learner and true believer of different learning models, theories and tools; my experience has also taught me that the story is usually different on the ground. It is not always possible to precisely define your KSA in this VUCA environment or to incorporate new technology to gamify your learning experience. As a small to medium sized organization, you may not have dedicated learning and development resources.

You may not be able to use all the tools and techniques available to you, nevertheless you can use their elements to add value.

It is possible to be creative and adapt to the need and environment of your organization. The above points are by no means exhaustive, but it is a great start towards a successful training and development program for your small and medium organization.


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