Mapping Out A Training Roadmap To Keep Employees On Course
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How To Map Out A Training Roadmap That Keeps Your Employees On Course

If your employee training isn’t getting the measurable results that you want, it may be because it is either not comprehensive enough to meet your objectives or it is not following a well-marked training roadmap.

Obviously, a “one and done” approach to training is usually not effective. The objectives of your training program are probably too complex, and we all have a limited ability to absorb information in large doses.

But piling on more and more training sessions won’t necessarily improve your KPIs either. You risk investing a lot of resources that don’t point toward the learning outcomes you are aiming for. That’s why a training roadmap can be so important.

What Is A Training Roadmap?

Sometimes referred to as a “learning path”, a training roadmap is a structured sequence of training activities that cumulatively teach a topic (or group of topics). As the name suggests, this is a method of mapping out training, but doing so gradually to make learning easier and better for the audience.

Creating a training roadmap is not the same as trying to build a self-contained lesson in an individual course. The roadmap approach requires you to think about each course as part of a unified whole, with each piece building on the last to achieve a collective value greater than the sum of its parts.

Roadmaps are prevalent throughout the training industry and at learning institutions across the country. They vary widely in scope; paths could be as short as a couple of days (a three-part intro to HTML program) or several years (a university degree program) in length.For today’s professional trainers, three types of roadmaps are most common:

For today’s professional trainers, 3 types of roadmaps are most common:

  1. Career development.
    When an employee’s role expands or they are being groomed for a new one —a manager becoming an executive, for example— professional development roadmaps can help close competency gaps and ease the transition.
  2. Customer training.
    Companies provide roadmaps to help customers reach competency with complex products, helping to improve satisfaction and generate leads for future business. This type of roadmap is especially prominent in the software industry (i.e. Oracle University [1]).

Partner leadership. Training is key to making partnerships work. Companies will often deliver roadmaps to managers and high-level associates of their partner organizations to ensure their collaboration has maximum operational efficiency.

The Value Of Mapping It Out

Training roadmaps are popular in the training industry for a host of reasons. First and foremost, they’re comprehensive. Spreading the learning over multiple sessions means that trainers don’t have to omit crucial content because of time, and they can ensure that trainees are achieving complete fluency in the topic.

In theory, the trade-off here is that training takes more time to complete, but that is not necessarily the case. Roadmaps make each individual training session resonate more with the audience, which saves time by reducing the need to retrain. In their book Learning Paths [2], Steven Rosenbaum and Jim Williams demonstrate that mapping out a training path can reduce time to proficiency by over 30 percent in just one month.

Furthermore, roadmaps can substantially increase an employee's interest in learning by showing them how each piece of their training fits into their growth and their future with the company. Engagement rises, turnover falls and staff learns how to make a more substantial contribution.

5 Steps For Putting The Roadmap Together

The process of creating a training roadmap should —like the roadmap itself— be broken into phases:

1. Define Your Objectives

As with any training initiative, the first step is to identify what you want out of it. Make a list of everything you want your trainees to be able to do at the end of their learning path.

2. Turn Your Objectives Into Training Topics

Connect the goals to specific training topics and create a list of important points to cover for each topic. Detailing all the knowledge and skills you want your audience to gain from each topic will help you create content later.

3. Sequence The Topics

Once you have a finalized list of training topics, determine a sequence that will have maximum impact. This is one of the most important steps in creating a roadmap because the order in which we receive information has a significant effect on how we digest it.

Don Clark, an instructional designer and training writer, observes that there are a range of effective ways [3] to sequence learning content. Trainers can organize topics based on their order of importance, the familiarity trainees have with said topics, cause-and-effect relationships or countless other models.

Probably the most basic factor in sequencing, however, is prerequisites. If you have to learn topic ABC before you can learn topic XYZ, then ABC should obviously come first.

Remember that no two people learn the same way. If you’re able to gather information on your audience’s knowledge, backgrounds and training preferences, you can create segmented training roadmaps for different groups within your audience.

4. Develop, Implement, And Show The Reward

At this point, you can start creating your online courses and placing them into a custom learning path on your Learning Management System. It helps to provide some incentive at the end of the roadmap, such as consideration for a promotion or a special discount for customers, but it doesn’t have to be that substantial.

Simply providing trainees with a badge or certificate to show off their expertise is often enough validation, and many learning management systems award these designations automatically upon completion of learning milestones.

5. Release Your Training

At last, you’re ready to send your trainees down the path you’ve created. As participants begin working through the roadmap, remember to track results and solicit feedback so you can continually improve your process and make better roadmaps in the future.

Related reading: How to Create an Online Course in 5 Easy Steps

A Little Work Goes A Long Way

In the short term, building a training roadmap will require a slightly greater investment of time on your part as a trainer. But the long-term rewards —better performance, higher engagement, reduced costs and stronger relationships with trainees— will make that brief extra work seem insignificant. If roadmaps teach us anything, it’s that it pays to focus on the bigger picture.

For better onboarding, see The New Hire Checklist — Your Guide to Onboarding New Employees.

In short, to maximize the investment you are making in training, just keep reminding yourself of the metaphor at the center of the training roadmap — know your destination, plot the route and know what milestones you are looking for. That gives you the best chance to avoid spending a lot of training time wandering off course without progressing toward your business objectives.

If you're looking for a way to create a successful employee training program, look no further than SchoolKeep. Get started today with a free 14-day trial.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Oracle University - IT Training and Certification
  2. Learning Paths: Increase Profits by Reducing the Time It Takes Employees to Get Up-to-Speed
  3. Sequencing and Structuring Learning Activities in Instructional Design
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