Chances are, if you’re here you already understand the benefits of high-quality, engaging learning solutions. However, you and your audience could be missing out if you aren’t also taking advantage of every opportunity to maximize your investment in training!
I’ll explain exactly what I mean by investing in training and why you should care about it (even if you’re a training specialist that’s hired by other companies as a freelancer or consultant). But first drop down to the comments right now. Share the ways you’re already working on maximizing your training investment. If you have no idea if you’re currently doing this, that’s okay, we’ll walk through it together!
What does it mean to maximize my investment in training?
When I talk about training as an investment, it may sound like this is only a concern for instructional designers or learning & development professionals working for a huge corporation.
Not true! Just because the training is being funded by a client or a specific department that you’re not normally a part of, you’ve still invested time and resources into creating something.
You want to make sure everyone gets the most out of it and increase your chances of scoring a repeat client.
Maximizing your investment in training means you’re doing everything in your power to make sure your audience buys in and engages.
It means you follow-up to make sure your training is meeting the objectives, and if it’s not, you use the data to find out why.
And yes, for my corporate L&Ds out there, maximizing your investment in training is also about getting the best bang for your buck. So I’m going to let you in on my not-so-secret tips for getting the absolute most out of your training investment.
Five Ways to Maximize Your Investment in Training
1. Build training into your budget
This may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s worth discussing. Honestly, this may mean something slightly different to you depending on your unique position.
First and foremost, I strongly believe that training needs should be a part of the budget conversation every year. This means your organization needs to have a general outline of the training it’s planning for the entire year!
Sometimes, pushing to have training needs included in your yearly budget is a good way to get the conversation about professional development rolling early on so there are no huge surprises later.
For my freelancers and trainers who aren’t part of a larger corporation, this is still something you can do. Your own professional development is your business! Plan and budget for your own professional development for the entire year and invest in bettering yourself.
2. Work the resources you have
Here’s a tip that will help you maximize your investment in training by saving you some cash so you can either devote it to enriching a different aspect of the training or come in under budget (which will make everyone happy!).
When it comes to developing and designing training, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You likely have a tool belt of resources that you keep coming back to because they give good results.
Take advantage of the software and application subscriptions you already have when you’re putting together a training instead of seeking out the latest and greatest every time.
What do I mean by this?
Several years ago, in one of the organizations I worked for, we decided to start adding video clips of our sales reps and executive leadership in our eLearning courses.
Video was very popular – and still is – for on-demand learning.
The Problem: my team knew how to use Captivate and knew how to add videos to Captivate but my team did not know how to use software to edit or create videos.
We all had access to Premiere as a part of our Creative Cloud subscription, but we had no idea how to use it, and I did not have the budget to send the team, or even one team member, to training.
The Solution: One of my former team members in another department was a Premiere guru. So, I went to David and his boss and asked if it would be willing to take some time one afternoon to teach my team how to work with the software. He generously said yes and trained us all.
We did not have the budget for training so we worked with the internal knowledge resources we had to get up to speed. We were still able to maximize our investment in training and you can too.
You can save time and money by using the resources you have, whenever it makes sense for the learning situation and your budget to maximize your investment in training.
3. Use feedback effectively and track data post-training
Just because a training module has been designed, developed and delivered, doesn’t mean your opportunities to maximize your investment in training have ended.
First, you have the training feedback. Hopefully, your audience has been asked to provide some feedback on the course upon completion (if not, get on it! You can send a request for feedback in the weeks after the training, but don’t wait too long).
Don’t just let that valuable data go to waste. Go through the feedback and keep learner suggestions on file for the next training. There may even be small changes you can make to the training for the next wave of learners. You can even follow-up with participants for clarification or a second opinion once they’ve had a chance to apply their learning.
Another treasure trove of data lies in the post-training assessment. Instead of just letting all those assessment scores sit around, analyze that data! Look for growth and trends, identify any areas where there’s room for improvement.
Report back to the department heads so they can see the success of the training (or plan for a follow-up to fill in any gaps). Also, consider sending a post-training email blast to the participants. Sharing success is a great way to remind your audience that training is beneficial. It keeps them invested in furthering themselves professionally.
It might be uncomfortable, but if the growth data just is not there, chances are your audience felt this! Acknowledging this post-training and connecting it to how future training will address the gap is also important.
You’ve already put time and money into creating the surveys and assessments, so take full advantage of the data they provide you with.
4. Capitalize on in-house and off-site training
You know I am a big fan of Quarterly Rocks and creating goals for each quarter. In my ‘rocks’ for the quarter I always plan some type of development for my team. Sometimes, however, I have to get creative about great learning opportunities that won’t put us over budget.
When it comes to investing in training, sometimes the best investment is making use of the vast amount of knowledge and skill within the team. This can be capitalized to train other team members. It could be as simple as 5-10 minute training during a monthly meeting. It could also be a stand-alone in-person or eLearning training opportunity built just for the team.
This is valuable for several reasons: tapping into talent on your own team highlights individual strengths. It is also a good morale boost for the individual you’ve asked to share. Staff are also more likely to buy-in and remain engaged while a peer is presenting them with new information. Plus, a quick development session using internal resources isn’t a huge expense!
Conferences and other off-site training opportunities come up often (and you should definitely do your research before you invest in this kind of learning experience). This may be another beneficial investment in staff development.
If you send a member of the team to an off-site development opportunity, have them present a mini-training session at the next team meeting. Let them share the learning opportunity with the team. This will help solidify what the attendee learned by teaching it to others. It also provides an educational opportunity for those who were not able to attend. Win-Win!
5. Market your training
Wait a second, isn’t training required? Why should you spend time and money on marketing when you already have the customers? Well, you may have the audience but you might not have their buy-in yet.
A skeptical audience can lessen the effectiveness of even the most organized and engaging learning experience. That kind of audience is not the way to maximize your training investment.
To combat this, you can use marketing tactics before, during and after your training to ensure their buy-in. Advertise the WIIFM (or, what’s in it for me) ahead of training. Use simple graphic design methods to direct and keep the learners’ gaze. Follow-up with post-training questionnaires to get the audience thinking about their learning after some time has passed.
These are all easy, inexpensive ways to promote your training with huge benefits.
Wrapping it all up
Maximizing your (or your client’s) investment in training looks good on paper and has tremendous benefits for the learners. This is a practice that benefits any training specialist regardless of your position.
Now I want to hear your thoughts. What’s something you’re planning on putting into practice right away? What’s something you’re already doing that I didn’t mention? Hop over to my Facebook page and share away!