W-Systems joins SugarCRM! Read Blog

How to Create a Proactive Training Program

by Linus Rinke on June 10, 2016

4 minute read

Many organizations are in reaction mode when it comes to training initiatives. Reacting when there is a problem, reacting when an issue needs to be addressed or reacting to feedback (sometimes negative!) from others. This can often lead to a training session that is not well thought out.  In this blog we’ll be discussing three proactive strategies to keep in mind when developing training programs.

Consider Individual Learning Styles

When thinking about what kind of training to offer to your end users you want to be mindful of two factors that will really dictate how much value a user gets out of training: their current comfort level with organizational change as well as their preferred learning styles.

Some users, especially those newer to the workforce, are more comfortable  learning new products and solutions and can more easily deal with changes in the organization. These users typically need less hand holding and prefer to manage the change(s) independently. On the opposite spectrum there are the users who find it difficult to merge existing processes to new solutions and are less comfortable dealing with changes in the organization.

It’s also important to keep in mind how your users learn. One size does not fit all.  Forcing people who’d rather learn on their own to sit in a three hour training session will demotivate your users.  Providing self-guided documentation to people who learn best in a classroom setting will limit the success of your training. Again, the goal is to be proactive and not reactionary. Understanding these user segmentation is critical in delivering training that will best meet your users unique and individual needs.

Align Training with your Users Career Objectives

Training strategies are typically more successful, not to mention better received, when the training aligns with your users professional and career objectives. Having worked as a trainer since 2010, this is where the concept of a needs analysis comes into play as it allows you to dig down and determine exactly how a training strategy should be curated in relation to the individual (or departmental) user needs. Too many times I’ve seen organizations taking a “one size fits all” approach by carpet bombing (metaphorically of course) their users with one single training program. This not only wastes time and money, but you may inadvertently damage your existing training culture as people may start to think that since their needs aren’t addressed or may be less open to the idea of attending training in the future. Identify the professional and personal objectives of your users before you begin training and segment your training to meet those objectives.

Facilitate a Culture of Learning and Get Constant Feedback

Fostering an open environment where users can tell you what they want to get out of training and how the course experience can be improved goes a long way in developing a solid training program. Some of the best organizations I’ve worked for had cultures that not only placed great emphasis on learning but also probed and pushed people to communicate how they wanted to learn and grow. One approach, and one that I take myself, is to test a training strategy on a small group of users and get feedback on how that training can be extended to other users. Remember, we don’t want to wait until the wheel squeaks to apply the oil--be proactive and apply the oil before it’s even needed!

While this relates somewhat to my second point be sure to segment your users appropriately. While the idea of “better late than never” certainly holds true for when and how you offer training to your users, you can easily avoid getting caught up in a reactionary mode by proactively fostering a training culture that aligns not only with your organization’s overarching goals but also the goals and needs of your individual users. If you are interested in learning more W-Systems’s training offerings, please reach out to us here.