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Training Officer Tip Archive

June 27, 2006 - Assuring the Outcomes You Want for Every Training Engagement

Before you engage a consultant or training firm to assist you with your organization's human capital development needs, do you fully spell out your desired outcomes?

Being clear about outcomes is extremely important for measuring the success of a training program. More critically, defining the outcomes early in the process of engaging a vendor can clue you in on which vendors are prepared to fulfill your requirements. If vendors cannot achieve your desired outcomes through their current methodology, cross them off your list. You don't want to mess around with firms whose goals are not in alignment with yours.

Work Backwards
In golf, course management is a major ingredient to success. It's a lot like managing training programs. Golfers are encouraged to play each hole backwards in their minds - from the green back to the tee - in order to play each shot correctly. Basically, if you don't know where you want to be when you get to the green, you can't know how to get there with your tee shot. In training, think about what you want to accomplish, what outcomes/benefits you want to see, and then work backwards. Doing this will enable you to imagine more clearly the best training possible.

Have the Trainer Refer to Your Desired Outcomes Repeatedly
If possible, after you hire a trainer, do a "walk-through" of the class with him or her, including the handout materials. Make sure the objectives and the outcomes are clearly stated in the beginning of the session, but take it a step further by establishing each point in the training when the instructor will refer back to the outcomes to be sure everything's on track. Grab a hold of the outcomes and use them for guidance throughout the program. If the participants are not reminded periodically of the outcomes, the work they do in the class will not be as fruitful for them as it could be.

Be Specific
Your desired outcomes should be specific. Pretend you are running a class on Interpersonal Communications. Here's the difference between being too general and being specific:

General Outcomes: To make employees better communicators and work better with peers.

Specific Outcomes: To demonstrate a significant improvement in applying proven communication techniques to initiate difficult conversations with peers, smooth over misunderstandings, and build consensus among team members. Participants should come away from the training with ways to make marginalized employees feel welcome and respected by being conscious of one's body language, tone, and use of questions. These new skills should be taught in the context of retaining employees and enrolling them in the vision we have for the organization.

See the difference? Figure out your challenges, state them, and cite ways to approach them in practical ways.

Be Consistent
Remember to go through this exercise with all of your training initiatives. Your consistency will serve you well and lend greater credibility to your training office - which can only lead to good things for you and your colleagues in the future.

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