Six questions to ask before you launch your next training programme

Starting a training programme? Cordell Riley has questions.

A lot of excitement starts the day you first say, ‘Let’s create a new training program for our employees.’ Everyone on your top executive team has suggestions and ideas. Everyone wants to weigh in, make plans and help create the training that results.

That enthusiasm is both valuable and awesome. Yet before you drop the flag and get your people racing off in different directions, here are some very basic questions to weigh.

What is my goal for this training?

Are you trying to train your salespeople to sell more or to create greater customer loyalty? Are you trying to get your franchisees to make the best use of the marketing materials you provide? Are you trying to improve your Net Promoter Score?

The more closely you can identify specific goals for your training, the more effective it will be.

What are the few, most important skills or concepts I want to teach?

When considering the skills they want to train, most companies make a list that is much too long. The result is that they conceptualise a training program that is so extensive that their employees end up ‘drinking from a fire hose’ and cannot absorb everything.

Get input from everyone in your organisation, especially from the employees who are already doing the jobs and using the skills that you want to train. 

Since employees can learn only a few key skills or concepts in a typical day of training or online training unit, focus on just a few to include in your training. Remember, you can add additional training modules on the ‘nice to have’ secondary skills at any time and deliver them in short units that employees can complete on their phones or tablets, or in your company training centre.

As you define the skills your training will address, the DACUM (Design a Curriculum) methodology is the best tool to use. Get input from everyone in your organisation, especially from the employees who are already doing the jobs and using the skills that you want to train.

You ask questions like, ‘What tasks do you typically perform every day’ and, ‘What is it about your work that causes the most frustrations or duplicated work?’ Based on their input, you can focus in on the skills that will produce the most needed change.

Who are the most important employees for my training program to reach?

Because you cannot teach everybody everything, create a prioritised list of the people you want to train. For example, do you want to train your retail salespeople, your product installers, your phone center representatives, your mid-level supervisors – who, exactly?

And which of those employee groups should you train first, second, and so on?  Try to identify the people who will ‘move the needle’ and create focused training for them.

Where are the employees I need to train, and how can I best reach them?

If you have only a handful of employees who work in one company location, you could consider live training, in which a trainer meets with them face-to-face and delivers your training.

If you have hundreds of workers who are located in five or six locales across the country (or if you want to train a salesforce that works independently in the field), you might want to consider training on their smartphones, tablets, or PCs.


Picking the right delivery vehicle for your training is critical. Remember that training that you create to be delivered on mobile devices is, by its nature, repeatable. You can roll it out to future training classes without incurring the additional costs of repeating live training.

What extras can I bundle into my training to increase its value to our organisation?

Yes, you are teaching skills. Yes, you should keep your training materials focused and limited in scope. But the fact remains that training can hit those targets and also include some extras that boost its value. You can, for example, talk about your company’s history, brand and mission.

Adding information about those deeper values only requires a short time during your training program. The result can be a more committed workforce made up of dedicated individuals who will stay with your company for the long term.

How am I going to measure the results of training?

In the most basic terms, measuring means that you measure what is taking place before training starts and then measure it in the days, weeks and months after training is completed. But to take a step back, you first have to determine specifically what you will measure, since that will influence the training that you create.

For example, will you measure the total sales revenue that each of your salespeople generates per quarter, or in an average sale? Will you measure customer satisfaction or repeat business? Will you measure the speed with which your salespeople file their sales reports?

The point is that the only way to measure your ROI is to know what you will measure, plan how you will measure it, and then follow through and get the process underway.


About the author

Cordell Riley is owner and president of Tortal Training, a leading training development company in Charlotte, North Carolina. 




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