7 Strategies For Implementing Training And Development Programs
Like launching a new product or service, the work can’t stop once something is created. Training and development programs are no different. Once they are created, they still need to be published, syndicated, marketed, reviewed, revised, recommended, and ideally, supported with a communications program to promote its momentum. Let’s run through how to grow the impact of your organization’s Learning and Development (L&D) efforts with each of these key steps.
How To Enhance Your Training And Development Programs
Often in formal training and development programs, courses are posted on a Learning Management System (LMS) for learners’ assignment or selection. Assuming you already have a platform, you likely know what information will have to be filled out in order for the course to be on display for your learners. Who is better matched to write these details with a punchy, persuasive description than one of the Instructional Designers (IDs) who wrote the curriculum?
My recommendation is to add entries to the top of your storyboard template near the learning objectives and course duration so you don’t have to track down the ID after the project has closed to ask them to write up a stellar course description and details. What I love about this most is that it utilizes Stephen Covey’s Begin With the End in Mind principle, propelling the designer to constantly be reminded of framing the curriculum with what the learner’s expected outcomes are while they map out the course.
Once the course is published on the learning platform, what else is needed? Every organization is going to have unique steps, but here’s some questions to get you started:
- Should it be announced in the next issue of the employee newsletter?
- Does it need to be added to one or more learning tracks that will assign it to your learners?
- Should other platform administrators have access to assign and/or report on the course?
- Do you need AICC exports of the course uploaded so your customers can have their learners take it on their LMS platform?
The key here is to make a syndication checklist so you don’t have to think through these items on the fly and risk accidentally skipping one!
It seems we have all heard that each younger generation of workers craves more Learning and Development opportunities, and are looking to their employers to supply them. Still, learners require straightforward information about the value they can expect out of a program because it will require fixed resources (time and attention), just like a person purchasing a product. This is often called the WIIFM, which stands for, “What’s In It For Me?” Sprouting from your well-articulated course description, write up a few emails that can entice learners to enroll right away. Consider who the best audience is for the course and personalize your emails based on what you know about that person or group.
For instance, if a learner has taken an introductory leadership course and now there is an emerging leaders cohort looking for registrants, email the learners who completed the introductory course a tailored message asking them how their leadership journey is going and let them know you have a new program to support their goals. Don’t hesitate to look to the marketing industry for tips on persuading learners to inhibit the learning culture you’re looking for.
Not great at marketing? Let your learners market your programs for you! Vendors love seeing the countless five-star reviews of their customers’ courses and customers love having an easy-to-use rating system built into the platform that helps them get valuable feedback from their learners without any extra work.
Initially, implementing a rating system is nerve-wracking. It opens your team up to feedback and will require vulnerability. But just like if you have food stuck in your teeth, you’d rather your lunch date kindly tell you instead of leaving you to discover it yourself two hours later and wonder how many people have noticed. Openness and receiving feedback are two qualities you should want to promote in your organization and that can start with the Learning and Development team. If a course isn’t rated as highly as you’d like, take an afternoon to analyze why and determine if any corrective actions need to be taken. If a course is rated highly, share those ratings and reviews on a regular basis (and give your L&D team kudos)!
If you’re familiar with the ADDIE model, then you know that the “E” stands for Evaluation. And, you’ll know that the “I” stands for Implementation. So why is this article dedicated to implementation now talking about evaluation? Well, I think it makes sense to think about them together because many modern learning platforms will help you automate the process of gathering feedback on your courses right from their first launch.
As we just talked about, Ratings/Reviews promote gathering learner feedback, and that feedback is part of the boilerplate information needed for your team to create the next iteration of the course. Along with your full evaluation process, consider having time to make quarterly revisions to your online materials and courses to fix any typos or small bugs found and reported by your learners.
One of our customers has the comments and feedback of all courses published the prior week sent out to the team on Mondays. They’ve said it is always encouraging and often a way to get in a little chuckle at the beginning of the week, even if it includes some small correction that has to get added to the task list.
Do you want your learners to recommend your courses to each other? Then give them an easy way to do just that! Whether the option to share is built right into the platform or not, facilitators should provide learners the ideas and encouragement for them to share what they learned in the course with their peers. Ask the learners to journal about what they learned that surprised them or that they have already been able to use. Then, ask them who they know that could benefit from that same learning. Those of us running small businesses know about the power harnessed by word-of-mouth and peer recommendations. The same strategy can work for your courses and training and development programs!
Last but not least, let’s talk about communications! With the help of a good learning platform, this too can just be another checklist to action in your implementation plan. Make sure your course is supported with the following automated emails (and/or in-platform messages):
Welcome the learners and thank them for signing up for the course. Let them know of any expectations, calendar-related commitments, and tips for being successful in the course.
For when a learner starts an eLearning course but doesn’t complete it. Automation “pros” send a standard email to learners as soon as they exit courses that are intended to be completed in a single sitting. Maybe the learner was interrupted and you can remind them to put time on their calendar to revisit. Or, maybe the course malfunctioned, they got stuck and they need help. Either way, automating this type of communication makes a learner feel cared for and supported and it will promote a higher completion rate of your eLearning courses.
Congratulate the learner for completing the course. Life gets busy and training initiatives are often de-prioritized and/or postponed, so take the time to celebrate every time a learner finishes a course. Remind them that they are helping the organization establish a culture of learning and that you appreciate them. If any handouts were provided in the course, remind them how to access them for quick reference. Finally, ask them to rate and review the course, provide feedback, and recommend it to others.
A series of emails to promote reinforcement after the course is completed. Sometimes a course allows for practice exercises that closely mimic the very skill, but not always. If part of your curriculum is for learners to master difficult conversations, they will likely encounter their first opportunity to engage in such type of conversation after the course ends. A reinforcement campaign will prevent skill decay. One option is to send the following information over a series of 3-5 emails, once per week, starting after the completion/congratulation email:
- Provide them with a reminder of what strategies were taught in the course and why they are important,
- Encourage them to set a date and time to practice the skill in real life,
- Ask them how it went and what they learned,
- Recommend a follow-up training program or course.
Running a lean Learning and Development team is no small feat. And I can’t say I’ve ever heard of an L&D team that isn’t obligated to run lean. With the importance of creating a learning culture at your organization and the constant pressures to do more with less, use the strategies above to automate and set part of your L&D implementation strategies on autopilot.