Top 10 Training Best Practices for Effective Learning and Development Programs
Author: Tris Brown
Best companies realize that only through effectively and continuously developing and training their employees can they acquire the core competencies needed for competitive advantage and flexibility. In addition, these companies are realizing the benefits of self-development by encouraging a work habit of reflection and learning. In these companies, learning is built around action rather than theory. Instead of learning about strategic planning or marketing, participants develop a strategic plan or a marketing proposal for their own department.
The most effective training and development programs today have the following features incorporated:
1. Strategy driven: All training and development programs cascade down from the overall strategic goals. No programs are developed and implemented unless they produce results that are identified as critical to the strategy or business initiatives. There should be explicit alignment between programs, learning objectives, and business objectives.
2. Positive cost/benefit ratio: Training today is not only strategically linked, but is also subject to the same measurements as every other business activity. It must show a return on the investment, either in the long term or the short term. Best companies now realize that many training and development initiatives take years to fully achieve their goals. These timeframes, however, are identified up front, where possible, and the programs evaluated at that point.
3. Supported by key strategies, systems, structures, policies, and practices: Organizations that receive a true return on their learning investments ensure that learning is aligned with and directly supported by key areas such as organizational structures, lines of authority, decision making, values, planning, budgeting, career development, information sharing, compensation, performance management, rewards and recognition, staffing, recruiting, and succession planning. These direct links help to both set boundaries and reinforce desired results.
4. Driven through many channels: Leading organizations investigate and utilize multiple modalities such as the classroom, workplace, blended learning, eLearning, technology support tools, and co-workers to ensure that people get the right skills at the right time, in the right way, and at the right cost to succeed. Modalities are selected to match specific learning styles, business issues, budgets, and cultures.
5. Maximize employee ability and potential through shared accountability: Best companies are tapping the ability and potential of their employees through self-directed training and development. Employees are encouraged to identify their own needs, create individual learning plans, and to seek learning opportunities. Depending upon the kind of culture an organization is trying to create, the responsibility falls on the individual, his/her boss, his/her peers, and the organization. Training strategies are aimed at knowledge retention and transfer to the workplace, enabling employees to be more effective and to acquire more skills.
6. Work-related training: Knowledge and skills that are acquired through training and development programs are relevant and useful, both to the organization and to the individual’s work requirements. Employees only participate in programs that will add to their current and future work effectiveness and that will contribute to organizational success.
7. Learning by doing: Best companies are training their employees by having them perform “real” tasks and projects in a training environment and on-the-job. Rather than teaching theory and expecting employees to apply it to their own work, these companies are enabling employees to learn in their own way, and often at their own pace, through assignments that closely resemble their own work.
8. Transferability of knowledge and skills back to the job: One of the most important elements of best practice training and development is that it is easily transferred back to the workplace. This is achieved through the timing of the training, the quality of the content, and the quality and appropriateness of the delivery method. Another crucial element to this transferability is the maintenance of the new skill or knowledge once training has been completed. Skills and knowledge that are not used constantly will quickly atrophy.
9. Linked to other people-related programs and departments: Best companies do not train their employees in a vacuum. In many instances, training is now conducted by line managers, who also perform evaluations, set performance objectives, and draft compensation and promotion systems for the same employees. Even where the training is designed and delivered by a specific function or department, the programs respond not only to organizational needs, but also to individual needs as identified through appraisals, counseling meetings, assessments, and career development plans.
10. Continuous learning process: To drive lasting change in behaviors and habits, best companies ensure that learning occurs before, during, and after scheduled learning events. The process of doing, reflecting, learning, and doing again never ceases.
About LSA Global
Since 1995, LSA has helped organizations create and maintain distinct competitive advantages through human capital. We work with leading organizations to drive success through their people and the strategies, structures, systems, and processes that attract, inspire, develop, and retain top talent. Our solutions focus on the areas of:
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