Building A Virtual Training Program: Pre-Development Process
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What To Do Before Developing A Virtual Training Program

A smooth implementation of your new virtual training program requires proper preparation, as taking the time on the front end to plan for your new program will save your team time and resources. From pinpointing skill gaps to identifying your audience and setting concrete goals, here are 3 things to do before developing virtual training courses.

5 Things You Should Do Before Developing A Virtual Training Program
Prepare for a smooth implementation of your new virtual training program by pinpointing skill gaps, identifying your audience, setting goals, determining content delivery methods, and evaluating current content.

1. Identify The Gaps That Exist Between Current And Desired Performance

You are looking to deploy a training program that improves individual knowledge mastery or that takes your current training program to the next level. You recognize that training and performance walk hand in hand, and you want to build a training program that empowers your workforce to succeed.

To do this, we need to think about what is causing a divide between individual performance and success so that we can create a training program that bridges the right gaps.

We’ve come to find that there are 6 common factors that could be at the root of the problem.

6 Factors That Could Be Responsible For A Divide Between Performance And Success

  1. Underdeveloped skills
    The individual struggles to meet performance expectations because he or she does not know how to properly perform on-the-job procedures or tasks.
  2. Lack of motivation
    The individual is not driven to excel because he or she has found ways of meeting baseline requirements without expending a significant amount of effort, i.e. the individual can get the job done without doing it the “right” way.
  3. Unclear expectations
    The individual and the manager have different perceptions of what success looks like due to ambiguous performance expectations and a failure to give directions related to on-the-job tasks.
  4. Communication breakdowns
    Without an infrastructure to consistently communicate information within and in-between departments as new products or services are released or modified, or when goals and priorities within the organization change, the individual fails to meet performance expectations because he or she is in the dark on important departmental and organization-wide initiatives.
  5. No incentives
    Consistent failure to recognize positive contributions and individual success results in a lack of individual ownership over tasks and a laissez-faire attitude when an individual is encouraged to improve his or her performance.
  6. Silo’ed ownership
    When there is no organization-wide oversight on training, inconsistent training content, different expectations, and varying communication channels hinder individual performance as individuals move to different groups. Training is incomplete and confusing, hindering individual performance.

Think about which factors may be impacting the productivity of your workforce and take note of them as the core problems that your new training program should seek to help solve. A clear understanding of what the root of the problem is before you begin designing your new virtual training program will help you create an effective program that is targeted to solving specific problems that your organization faces.

2. Evaluate Your Audience To Discern Training Needs

Understanding your audience is essential to the success of your training program. Identifying the training problems that you need to solve is the first step in creating an effective, results-oriented training program.

The next step is to determine who the recipients of the training will be and how they are situated so that you can best meet their needs and fill the gaps between individual performance and success. This will help you determine which features you might need in your Learning Management System, what format your courses should be offered or presented in and what type of support your training program should include ensuring it does what it is intended to do—improve individual and overall organizational performance.

3 Things To Consider As You Determine The Training Needs Of Your Audience

Location

Inconsistencies in training are often found among geographically dispersed individuals within an organization, even between those with the same job role or function. Without organization-wide oversight on training, this is especially prevalent—making it important to streamline your training approach so that training is consistent across your entire audience. Some questions you should ask include:

  • Is my audience geographically dispersed? Or, are they in close proximity to each other?
  • Is training conducted differently depending on the location of the office or the department within the organization?
  • Is my audience international? If so, localization may be an important feature for your Learning Management System (LMS).
  • Is my audience mobile? Or, are they often at their desks? If a portion of your audience is often on-the-go, like your Sales folks, you might want to consider deploying a training program that can be accessed from a portable device.
Experience/Skill Level

You don’t want to burn out your most experienced employees by bombarding them with training in areas that they surpass competency in, and you don’t want to throw your less experienced employees out into the wilderness by skipping over important prerequisite courses that they need before they can understand more complex processes or tasks. To determine at what level an individual is engaging in a task or a topic, you should ask these questions:

  • What are the required skills for a specific position? I.e., what do your learners need to learn?
  • What does my audience already know, or what are they naturally good at? How can I build upon those existing talents and skills?
  • How much information is needed? Do your learners need in-depth skill development training or a refresher on how to properly perform a process or technique?

Technology

In today’s increasingly mobile world, the chances that everyone clocks in around the same time and at the same location are getting slimmer—especially if you have employees working remote or from across the globe. Here are a couple of things to consider when designing your new virtual training program:

  • Will the majority of your audience be seated at a computer? Or, will they be out in the field? If learners aren’t in their desks, audio or printed training materials may not be practical.
  • Will training take place on personal devices? If so, access to the training could be limited depending on internet connection, bugs and ability to access the system if it is behind a firewall.

Once you have a better feel for how your audience is positioned to receive training, you can start compiling a list of items that your training program will require to be successful, such as a learning portal that is mobile-accessible so that audience members working away from their desks can complete the prescribed training.

3. Determine Your Desired Outcomes For The Training Program

Start with clearly defined goals and finish with exceptional outcomes.

Turn your vision of individual and organizational effectiveness into a reality by establishing precise, actionable goals for your training program from the start you can. Clearly articulate what your audience should be able to accomplish after they complete training so that you can track how well your training program accomplishes important business objectives, like increased employee retention, increased customer satisfaction, increased sales, etc.

You will have your own unique business objectives and desired outcomes to measure the success of your virtual training program. To help make it easier for you to pinpoint what those might be, here’s a short list of some common learning outcomes that many organizations resonate with.

After completion of training, your audience should:

  • Be more effective in their job role or position—completing tasks or processes with improved accuracy and excellence.
  • Be more efficient in their job role or position—spending less time on tasks while still delivering high-quality results.
  • Require less supervision.
  • Meet compliance standards.
  • Have a well-rounded base of knowledge relevant to their specific job role or position.
  • Be up to date on the latest innovations, technologies, and industry standards.
  • Understand the organization’s products, services, and unique value proposition.
  • Have a shared understanding of the way the organization operates (company mission, values, goals, history, culture, etc.).
  • Be equipped with the necessary information to start a new or modified position.
  • Be positioned for advancement within the company when new opportunities arise.
  • Be inspired to innovate or add value to the organization.

Although you may have different desired outcomes for your training program than the ones listed, it is important to look at how your desired outcomes link back to meeting your organization-wide business objectives.

For example, the outcome of higher job satisfaction and a passion for work can translate to meeting your business objective of improved employee retention. It could also translate to meeting your business objective of increased sales, as oftentimes more passionate, committed and knowledgeable Sales folks are more likely to close a deal.

In our next article, we’ll discuss the importance of great virtual training content and 2 essential tips to create it. Stay tuned!

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