Typically, when you sit down to develop a training plan, you focus entirely on learner outcomes. Those goals become benchmarks for measuring the training’s success.
Strategic training widens the scope to include short and long term goals desired by the organization as well. This post will show you how to organize your own strategic training plan: one that incorporates input from all staff levels, benefits the organization as a whole, and increases your value as a strategic contributor.
Begin with the needs of your organization
Strategic training is valued because the organization’s desired goals guide its development. Uncovering workable goals begins with a thorough needs analysis that answers: What are your organization’s specific goals? Think short and long term. Your company’s senior leadership and members of management should actively contribute to this phase of brainstorming. As a result, you’ll have a broader understanding of the company’s current state and aspirations.
In her post What Makes an Organization’s Training Plan Strategic, Jeannette Gerzon, advises your desired outcomes “must be articulated and benefit the future state of the organization. For example, by ensuring training is standardized for project managers, project timeframes and deadlines may be more accurate and achievable.” Keep this in mind as the goals take shape. If they serve the best interests of your organization’s future, they’re perfect for a strategic training approach.
Design your training paths
After a thorough analysis, you’re ready to design the framework. You’re not yet developing the actual training material. Instead, this phase focuses on connecting the lines between your goals and how you plan to deliver on them through training. To do so, pair every goal on your list with an answer to: How will our learners accomplish the performance goal?
As answers are formed, consider the following:
What are the various types of training your organization can deliver itself, or possibly outsource to a vendor?
How could you get all members of the organization to participate in your design?
What’s the timeline to accomplish each goal?
How will the success of each goal be measured?
Remember, what makes strategic training unique is its focus on the organization’s desired outcomes. Cementing how your goals are supported during training and evaluated for success after are vital to the design phase.
Bring your design to life
Development of your training material follows, and is aided directly by your diligence in the design phase. If your design requires any vendor assistance, now is the time to get that scheduled.
With tack-sharp planning, your development efforts will be well informed and logically assembled. Keep your design framework within reach throughout the development phase. The training solutions you provided for each organizational outcome can serve as a litmus test of your material’s ability to deliver as planned. If a misstep is detected early in the development process, it can be corrected more easily than while in the middle of implementation.
Implement your plan
Once developed and organized, you’re ready to deliver. This part is pretty self-explanatory. However, it’s worth stressing the importance of leadership and management’s participation and presence in this phase of the training. Gerzon asserts, “Both senior members and managers should be aware, supportive, and engaged in the program planning and offerings. Without their involvement, staff may conclude the training does not matter to these senior leaders. With senior staff and management input and presence, staff know they can take the time to attend the trainings and be supported on the job.”
Ensure your training methods are working as planned by relying on your organization’s managers for feedback. Are they seeing skills improve? Are desired shifts in workflows being made? Ask them to be your eyes and ears for proof that what was taught is applied.
Evaluate your training success
With the training delivery wrapped up, it’s time to measure its overall effectiveness. If the success indicators established during the design phase were formed properly, you can use them to track your organization’s progress towards reaching the desired outcomes. Once again, include leadership and management in the conversation while you evaluate. Review what worked well, what needs improvement, and what challenges were faced during implementation.
Identifying challenges at this stage can help the organization form more realistic goals, or possibly lead to new goal directions that weren’t fully realized during the needs analysis.
With thorough planning and concentration on specific, actionable organizational needs, your training plan can lead to great success. Not only will it benefit the overall organization, you’ll also be valued as a strategic partner in the organization’s success.
If you’re curious to see a real world example, check out this training plan from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Compliance & Enforcement. While it may be a completely different vertical than your organization occupies, you’ll see the same framework of: analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate we presented above.