Are you just checking a box with training? Let’s see.
Pick up dry cleaning. Check.
Write blog draft and post. Check, check.
Read books, drink wine, and conquer the world. Check, check, and CHECK.
I live by checkmarks. Checking things off my to do list keeps me on track for success and, more importantly, keeps the bills paid and the lights on and wine stocked in the fridge.
Checking things off a list keeps the world moving, but solely living for a check mark is not really living. It might make us feel productive as things are ceremoniously completed and checked off, but we can sometimes compromise mindful intention and quality in pursuit of the sought-after check mark.
In the same way, we, as training professionals, are often tasked with developing training materials and fulfilling obligations because someone thinks it’s a good idea. And we, being the professionals we are, take up the sword and complete the assignment. Check, check.
But is that solution just checking a box with training?
Is it really something that’s needed for the intended learner that is meaningful and relevant?
It’s hard to slow down and be intentional with what we say and what we create. And depending on your position and your tasks and obligations, intentions can be squashed under the sheer weight of it all.
If this is you, I’m throwing you a lifeline with a few important questions to keep you out of the box-checking assembly line.
- What are the intended learning goals or learning outcomes?
- What metrics are trying to be influenced?
- Why do we need this training?
We also need to look at a couple of examples to really understand what goes into a great training and how to avoid just checking boxes when it comes to meaningful learning.
What are the intended learning goals or outcomes?
This question is important as it not only makes you think about what other questions to ask–who is the learner, what mode of delivery, etc.–it also will get the gears turning of who asked for this training.
A lot of things seem like a good idea to do especially if it’s “just what we always do.” Or if there are some unrealistic expectations about what the learning goals really are.
You’re not just asking yourself this question, you need an answer from who is recommending the training in question. The goal is important because it puts the finish line out there for you to know what success looks like to build the right training and what the learner needs to achieve success.
What metrics are trying to be influenced?
Metrics can be a BIG influencer when it comes to training and development. Whether it’s aimed at raising employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, or some other number, this is usually tied to money.
Money is also a big influencer when it comes to fulfilling a need or bridging the gap between performance and investment.
Knowing what metrics are driving the need for training, or IF there is metrics driving the training need, will absolutely help you steer the money ship where it needs to go.
Why do we need this training?
If things still feel a bit shaky with the training purpose, this question will help to solidify things for you and help prevent you from just checking a box with training…
“Why do we need this training?
WHY you need something can also help flesh out some other, not-so-apparent forces behind your marching orders. A reason can be that one person seems to be lagging behind the herd OR it can be a total downfall in performance in the entire herd of employees.
That one, slow-moving gazelle might need some one-on-one coaching or some other attentive action from HR and might not indicate the best use of your time.
In another scenario, a training might be ordered because it follows a predefined set of orders that no one can tell you where it came from in the first place. You might hear things like “we have always done it this way” or “so-and-so who used to work here said we should do this.”
This gives you a golden opportunity to help guide a training need in the right direction rather than just checking a box.
To give you a better idea about what that looks like, we need to look at a few examples.
Example #1 – HR Policy Webinar
HR Department: We need to push out our latest _____ policy and we need everyone to read and acknowledge the policy. Can you make us a training?
- What are the intended learning goals? Employees would acknowledge the receipt of the policy.
- What metrics are trying to be influenced? No metrics.
- Why do we need this training? We need everyone to view the policy and acknowledge that they’ve received it.
This does not need a training, but simply a statement where the learner clicks a link to read the policy and checks a box that they acknowledge receiving the policy.
Building a highly interactive training for a policy change doesn’t always equate into a training need because policies change often.
And speaking as someone who poured over 100 hours of creative energy into a training for a new policy just to see it turn into a PDF six months later, it hurts. It hurts a lot. But I’m not bitter, not bitter at all.
Also, just because the learner needs to check a box, doesn’t mean it’s not a good fit. To the same point, just because the learner has to interact a lot with the content does not mean it is a good fit.
Example #2 – New Product Training
Product Development Department: We need a training on the new product.
- What are the intended learning goals? Present information on the new product.
- What metrics are trying to be influenced? Product usage.
- Why do we need this training? To inform the learner about the new product.
This one is tricky and I see it all the time. Because it could go one of 2 ways: (1) Interactive learning opportunity for the user to learn best practices for the new product or (2) an information dump of all the features of the new product.
Information dumps are the worst. My mind wanders, your mind wanders, everyone…what were you saying?
If usage is the big metric, usage should be the purpose. For training purposes, usage centers around how the learner can USE the thing or product or program, not just absorbing a ton of information.
Lots of things can go into great training. And it can be so overwhelming when you’re staring down the barrel of 150 or 200 working hours to make that great training.
This only puts more importance on knowing what the learning goals are, what you’re trying to influence, and WHY the company needs this training. Because once you know these things, you can make a kick-ass training.
Kick-ass training needs goals, evaluation metrics, and a strong purpose that does not just solely check a box. The Instructional Design Lab is here for you with no BS and no fluff if you’re needing more confidence.
Achieve your goals, sprint past the slow-moving gazelles, and create the most kick-ass training.
Check, check, and CHECK.
My Facebook page is a great place to add your questions and engage with other instructional designers on different topics related to instructional design, so jump on in and join the conversation.