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The Seven Laws of Training: What Managers Must Know

Training Managerby Guila Muir

You oversee training and possibly deliver it. How can you ensure that your agency’s training actually improves workplace performance? Follow these training laws in the order below. They will help ensure success, both for online training and in the classroom.

1. Answer the “Big Why.” What is your agency’s justification and motivation for training? Consider taking Roger Maeger’s words to heart: “Training should be the intervention of last resort.” Can you solve your workplace challenge in some other way? Ask yourself and your agency: “What do we want to change? How will we know it has changed after training?” (Identify what you will measure—for example, number of complaints, kudos, mistakes, etc.) Do not move ahead if you can’t answer these questions.

2.  Know your participants. (“Who”) Who is the audience? Why? What are the characteristics of this group? What pre-requisites do they need? What are their anxieties and concerns? You must be able to name and describe the audience to ensure the right training for the right participants.

3. Brainstorm content. (“What”) Do NOT depend solely on your own knowledge of the subject. Pick the brains of: •    Subject matter experts •    Members of the target audience •    Supervisors and managers •    Existing research to garner the widest, most robust view of the topic. Try not to “focus down” and solidify the content quite yet.

4. Develop a clear purpose statement based on your findings in #2 and #3 above. The purpose statement guides the entire session. It  focuses the content to keep the design on track.  Use this “formula:” “The purpose of this training is to (VERB) (WHAT) to (WHOM).” Examples: The purpose of this training is to teach managers the basics of Excel; The purpose of this training is to orient new employees to our training policies. Simple as these statements are, you’ll be surprised at how challenging they can be to develop. That’s because you are forcing your brain to really define what each training is all about. Include the purpose statement in any description of the class, and on the participant materials.

5.  Develop demonstrable learning outcomes (objectives). Consider each learning outcome as an empty “bucket” for content. Organize your content by placing it in the right buckets. ONLY add content that helps to achieve each outcome. Start each outcome with the words: “As a result of this session, participants will be able to…” Determine which PowerPoint slides, worksheets, and activities will fit into each bucket. LEAVE OUT any content that doesn’t fit into a bucket.

6.  Determine how you will assess learning during the lesson. Plan to assess “where participants are” at least once during the lesson. Here is one great way: Two Insights, One Area of Confusion Have participants write two insights and one area of confusion based on the information you have provided. Collect, read, and address to the class. Additional assessment strategies can be found here.

7.  Determine how you will evaluate learning after the lesson. How will you know if the training addressed those issues your agency wanted to change? (See Law #1.) What will you measure—complaints, kudos, mistakes? Managers—you’ve just gotten a whole semester’s worth of training guidance. Follow these seven laws, and your sessions will truly impact workplace performance.

Read more articles to boost your Training Skills. Learn about Guila Muir’s Train the Trainer Workshops.

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