Prioritize your areas of need.
Identify those areas where an upgrading of skills would bring about a high return. Look for the high leverage positions. If your company is sales- or service-driven, a useful place to look is to those who have direct contact with your customers and the people who manage or support them. If your company is manufacturing-driven, then look first to those who directly affect the productivity and quality of the production process.
Begin at the end.
Determine the results and behaviours your want before considering design, cost, or vendor. Skills training should produce behaviour changes and subsequent business results. And these results should provide a high rate of return on the training investment. Define very clearly what results you want to see and what behaviours you believe will produce these. Once these are clear, determine an appropriate investment.
Think Return on Investment (ROI) first, rather than budget. Doing something just because it happens to fit in the budget often results is squandered money and staff time. Not having the budget to make a high return investment is a lousy reason to make a low cost / low return investment. If you don’t have the budget to make a high ROI investment, then either re-negotiate the budget or wait until next year when you can combine two years’ budgets. With whatever budget you can negotiate, think results before thinking quantity. It is much better to fully integrate one skill upgrade for your team than to expose them to a lot of training that doesn’t get applied.
Specify and prioritise your criteria.
Implementation effectiveness should be at or near the top of your criteria list. Three weeks after the training is complete, nobody will be concerned with how entertaining the trainer was or how colorful the materials were. Most will want to know “Is it producing results?” Carefully consider the quantity and quality of implementation assistance.
Examine how your company can support the new behaviours.
Examine such things as achievement bonuses, recognition programmes, and coaching support. Set clear expectations for those in the training for what they are to learn, how you expect them to perform, and what results you want. Determine how you will monitor their performance and how you will provide feedback.
Training is often a critical piece to the solution. However, it is rarely the only piece. In order to make your investment in training pay off, think about the total solution and how to integrate all the components of the solution. By doing this, your training will be more successful. It will produce results.