Insights for Working Virtually

This blog is for anyone who communicates in-person or virtually in the business world.

Do You Really Know What They Need? Define Before You Design

Do You Really Know What They Need? Define Before You Design

It’s a common lament. “We’ve created training program after training program to support this new initiative and they still aren’t adopting the tools.” Sound familiar? Your organization has a new product, program, or corporate initiative to launch and as training professionals, we need to get employees engaged and trained. Our programs need to focus on these key business initiatives in our organizations. So, we track participant registrations in our learning management system (LMS), test them and analyze their scores, and make sure the training is mandatory. Even then, they still aren’t adopting what we are teaching.

So where are the gaps? There are many things that contribute to lack of adoption or utilization of new initiatives. One of the challenges with training I hear from participants is, “This just isn’t relevant to what I do day-to-day.” As an organization, are we designing our programs with the needs of the learner in mind? Without a needs assessment, it’s a guess. This is old school training development, but it is even more important now. This is particularly true for virtual instructor-led training.

Our workforce is mobile, global, independent, and not slowing down. Employees get information from many sources. If we don’t identify the needs of our workforce and adapt our training designs accordingly, we risk longer development times and potentially accrue more costs to achieve our organization’s learning and business goals. Any training we push out there has to be delivered in the way our participants will apply it and see “What’s in it for them?”

Whether you are an instructional designer or subject matter expert developing and  designing virtual training workshops, here are some key best practices to keep in mind.

Focus on how they do their business
How do your training targets conduct their day? What are their goals and how will the topic, tool, or initiative help them achieve them? “Telling” them the features and how they should apply the learning is not going to cut it. Do a needs assessment. Don’t assume. By asking some simple questions of key people in your target audience, you will identify ways to align what you want them to do in their jobs with what they actually do.

Make it real world
Do we really need another hypothetical case study? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong - I think case studies are a great way to illustrate a topic or process. If you are trying to get adoption of a process, tool set, or application, make it real. Give them hands on experience with their data using the systems, tools, or process you want them to adopt. Getting their hands into the learning can lead to “aha” moments for participants that you just can’t “tell” them to experience.

Plan to change your approach
If you have taken a traditional classroom design approach, you may need to rethink your strategy. Do you need to consider mobile? Are you able to create an adaptive, responsive design that will work in a variety of delivery environments? Do you need one class or a blended approach? Don’t assume that the target participants will access training in the same way across the globe. This goes back to the needs assessment. Determine the business and cultural context and be prepared for change.

It all goes back to knowing your target audience. Identify the outcome of the training with the participant’s needs in mind and then design accordingly. Don't cut corners on the needs assessment. It can save you time and money in the long run.

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Wednesday, 20 June 2018