Leading a successful employee training initiative requires planning and follow through.

These days, many organizations—from large corporations to small non-profits—understand that the people who work with and for them are essential to their health and growth. Employees need support in their jobs, which includes training to help them grow personally and professionally in their work environment. Accordingly, these organizations look to employee training courses for help—whether to prepare an employee for a leadership position, facilitate better relationships between coworkers in an office environment, or certify employees for certain skills.

Whether you want to develop a training course to sell to organizations, or create an internal program for your own business, your program will have to include several key elements if it’s going to succeed. Employee training is more complicated than elective courses, but when handled well, it can be just as effective. Here’s what you need to start.

1. Someone who’s ready to take charge.

Any course needs strong leadership to move forward. For companies developing a project internally, someone needs to be willing to step forward and take the lead. If left in the hands of a committee, it won’t ever get done.

Similarly, if you’re an outside instructor developing a course on behalf of an organization, you will need to find someone within the organization who will champion your project. With only a lukewarm commitment, it’s unlikely your course will achieve its aim.

2. A thorough needs assessment.

An organization may know that they want better leadership training, but that doesn’t mean they understand what that training should include. It may be they’ve misidentified some of the key issues within their organization, and what they really need is a special module on international relations to smooth over brewing unrest between overseas branches. Or possibly their planned compliance training is missing a key segment on online data security.

It’s critical for organizations to begin their programs with a thorough review of their current organization and their goals to achieve success.

3. Buy-in from the leadership team.

We already touched on how important it is for someone to take charge, but it’s very difficult for a program to be successful if it’s the crusade of a single member of middle management. Good training requires a certain commitment of resources—both for the development of the program, and for the time employees spend taking it.

Fortunately, if you’re developing an employee training course on the outside to pitch to an organization, the needs assessment is often the first step toward winning over more members of the leadership team. When the leaders of the organization make it clear that this is a priority for them, the rest of the group will treat it more seriously.

4. Support from the trainees.

That said, top-down initiatives can only have so much success without the support of the employees themselves. Mandatory training courses often fail precisely because they work against one of the most fundamental tenants of adult learning: self-direction. To improve outcomes, employers need to engage their workers in the process.

That may mean asking employees what kind of training they most want to see, asking them what delivery method would be most useful, or offering incentives for employees who opt-in to a particular program. By involving the intended learners in the process, organizations help put them back in the driver’s seat.

5. A means of measuring and tracking success.

Your needs assessment should indicate what the intended outcome of training is. Whether it’s a reduction in customer service complaints, higher employee satisfaction scores, or lower scrap and rework costs on the factory floor, having a measure for success can validate the project, or show ways in which it might be improved.

6. Content that matches the employee’s environment.

You’re creating an employee training course to help workers respond to customer complaints. Do those employees work in a live environment where they may have to respond to an irate customer face to face? Or do they work at a computer, where most of their customer support complaints come through email or a messaging system?

Learners pay attention when content is relevant to their day-to-day experiences. If you have actual anecdotes or case studies from your organization, including them will help your learners remember the material and respond appropriately in a given scenario.

7. A mechanism for employee feedback.

Engaging learners during the course creation process is one thing, and measuring their progress and improvement is another. But neither of these is enough without a response from employees about the effectiveness of the training.

Consider including feedback points within the course structure itself, such as a quick star review to ask how well the material was presented. Then ask for more specific feedback upon course completion to learn if there are obvious areas that need improvement. Make sure you listen to the feedback and implement it whenever possible. Learners will feel better about the course if they feel their efforts contributed to making it better.

8. Follow-up and post-training review.

Finally, don’t treat employee training courses as a one-off affair. Learners retain material best when they have opportunities to review it or re-engage every so often. Schedule micro-sessions with your learners that allow them to conduct a mini training scenario, or create a small follow-up quiz for a few months down the road. You may even have a few learners who are willing to lead a segment of the training course themselves.

Employee training courses help organizations develop and grow.

There’s a reason why so many organizations are turning to ongoing education for their internal growth: it works. A business that engages employees, offers them meaningful opportunities to advance their abilities, and makes them part of the course creation process will see greater commitment from their workforce, as well as a stronger awareness of the organization’s priorities and goals.

So, whether you’re planning to develop an internal course for your own organization or collaborate as a consultant, make sure you go the extra mile to ensure your course is a success.

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