Q: What are the basic steps to effectively design a training program?  

The basic steps to effectively design a training program are:

  1. Define the training needs
  2. Define the target audience to receive training
  3. Develop the content to be used for training
  4. Define the outcomes to be achieved from training.

Defining the training needs
This is a process called discovery. In a discovery phase it is important to define the needs and goals of the organization and what kind of knowlege will help employees meet those needs and achieve the stated goals. It is important to emphasize that the needs and the goals both be addressed.

Needs are generally those issues related to a changing technological space, such as updated software, new systems or processes, a response to new legistlation that requires specific knowledge, etc.

Goals are those initiatives related to performance in competition with other companies or perhaps with past levels of achievement.

Defining the target audience to receive training
In the case of medical emergency preparedness, it is necessary to identify a core group of managers and train them. This is the process of identifying the target audience.

Another example would be to do a study of work processes, including employee surveys. It is surprising how many management decisions are made without employee feedback! It is important to listen to the employees and take their suggestions into considerations because they often see many things happening that are not immediately apparent, especially when it comes to employee training and identifying who needs it.

Develop the content to be used for employee training
Content development can be accomplished in-house by experts within the organization. Indeed, for many important job functions it's important that a manual of work processes exist and be regularly updated on an at least yearly basis. Such a manual can form a basis for the study materials to be used in training employees.

In other situations it's possible to purchase the materials from an outside vendor. Especially in specialized niches that are dependent on legistlation and rules that change from year to year (such as accounting, legal requirements, processes that are tied to governmental regulation), it may behoove the organization to purchase materials from vendors who produce timely employee training content.

Define the outcomes to be achieved from training
This last step is very important to regard. The outcome from training is typically defined within the following categories: increased profitability, higher efficiency, better levels of safety within the work environment, development of employees who are ready to meet the challenges of assuming management roles, a productive work environment, and even a better product and customer satisfaction and retention. All of these points are the kinds of goals management should be focusing on when developing an effective program for continued organizational development.

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