Managing the Training & Development Function

Training programs form a significant part of the learning and development paths for employees inall organizations.For the time and money invested by organizations and participants it is essential for the program to succeed. Lets look at the following statements-
Organizations complaining that the training program was not successful or it didnt go on well
Trainees coming out of the session with a feeling of dissatisfaction
Trainer himself not satisfied with the training program for a variety of reasons
Havent we heard or experienced these statements before. This is because of improper planning and as they say failing to plan is to planning to fail. Most trainers are aware of the essential stepsto conduct a training program. While they are aware of the steps, they often encounter a number of issues and problems at every step.Let us examine some of the important steps, the associated problems and some possible solutions.
STEP 1-Identification of Training Needs
Ideally the trainer knows that the training program should start with identification of the training needs. In reality this step is either skipped or glossed over because a thorough TNA is a time and effort intensive project and it requires immense planning. Thus the general trend is that training needs are based on �gut-feel and the trainer �delivers on what he is told to. The practice is for the HR managers to come up with a training topic and the trainer simply works on building a �program around it. The program is thus not based on real needs and the participants selection is far from objective or ideal. This can lead to frustrations both for the participants and the trainer.
A simple yet comprehensive tool or tools that facilitate the entire Training Needs Analysis process would go a long way in ensuring that training is designed for business goals and needs.
STEP 2- Setting TrainingObjectives, Designing a Training Program and Choice of Methods
The core activity of the trainer is to design the training program with a set of meaningful objectives matching content and appropriate methods. The trainer usually faces a number of challenges in all these areas
a) FramingSMART training objectives is an important task as it sets clear expectations from the program, trainer and participants. One indicator for a SMART objective is the use of action words so that the learning can be measured.
b) Designing the content of the training programs calls for both knowledge and skill on the part of the trainer. The general practice for a trainer, especially the relatively new trainers, is to look up the net to find 2-3 program agendas and come up with an amalgamation of the key points. Either that or the design is based on what has worked well before.
c) The choice of different training methodologies to facilitate learning remains a major issue with many trainers. Several different training methodologies are available. For any learning process to be successful, an understanding of how the participants learn is extremely important. The trainer must be aware that participants learn through different modes � by reflection, concrete experiences, active experimentation and abstract symbolization. This means the trainer must be comfortable with different training methodologies that cater to each style. Training methodology also must depend on the topic being covered, the timing of the session and the budgetary scope.
It is not very often that trainers are able to find the content, the training methodologies and the various tests and instruments that can be used for a particular program theme in one place. He would necessarily have to spend time and effort to put all of these together. Such design libraries are few and far.Having a library of program designs based on extensive research with all the related informationwould be a boost in the arm for the trainers.
STEP 3-Participant Connect� Pre & Post
Historically the trainer and the participants met when the program started and learning started there on. One of the primary reasons for this has been the geographical dispersion of participants. With the advent of technology and the use of computers, this barrier can now be effectively overcome, and in most cases even broken. There is now immense possibility for the trainer to get connected with the participants well before the program. Very successful training programs have shown that the learning process and motivation levels are far greater if the trainer-participant relationship is established before the actual training session.
Often times, relationship between the trainer and the participant unfortunately ends when the program closes. However, a large number of participants do want to maintain this relationship to continue with their learning. Again, in programs which are specially designed to have specific projects and assignments post training, it becomes essential for this relationship to continue to share, discuss and learn. The post program connect is thus equally important to ensure this continuous learning.
There is a need for ParticipantConnect - a platform where the trainer and the participant can engage in discussion and dialogue both pre and post program.
STEP 4-Implementation of the training program
Finding venue, stay and travel options that are satisfactory in quality and are within budget is a tough exercise and the search often consumes a substantial amount of the trainers time.
Any trainer would love to have a Venue Management Facility that brings together all these variables and their options, freeing up a lot of time for him to focus on his actual training program.
STEP 5-Evaluation of the training program
Evaluation is one of the key steps in successful training. The most common evaluation seen today is the �happy sheets.Evaluation however needs to go much beyond these happy sheets. Organizations are increasingly linking training programs to concrete knowledge enhancement, behavioral change and business impact.While the need for in-depth evaluation is perceived and acknowledged by the training community, practical and feasible evaluation frameworks/models are still not largely available to the trainers. This is true in cases where organizations want to see a Return On Investment.
The community of trainers will be greatly benefitted with simple, clear yet comprehensive frameworks that clearly guidethem to undertake training evaluation.
Managing the Training & Development function will continue to be a challenge and calls for multiple skills on the part of the trainers to handle the same. Identifying and utilizing services or solutions provided along the above mentioned lines would assist the trainer in many key aspects allowing him to focus and channelize his expertise to the core activity of transferring learning to the participants.


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