Designing a training program to educate your employees

Version 3

    Hi everyone,


    I hope no one minded that I skipped last weeks blog-post! We’ll be back into the usual rhythm from this week. I’ve been having a lovely holiday in New Zealand, visiting friends, family and enjoying the sunshine and outdoors - even doing my first ever skydive (15,000 feet, 1 minute freefall @ 200km/hour = completely amazing and terrifying!)


    Now onto the topic of today’s blogpost: Designing a training program to educate your employees. Regardless of whether you’re designing a training program for employees as part of the initial  deployment or as a post deployment push to increase adoption and improve collaboration, the same cycle of activities should take place.


    The Training Cycle


    1. Complete a training needs analysis


    Before planning any training or developing content, a needs analysis needs to be completed to ensure that you give your employees the knowledge, skills and ability that they need to be successful using the tools and working in new ways. There is no point spending time and money developing training that isn’t going to be useful to people. The first thing to do is identify what the learning objectives of each of the user group are. What do they know already, and where are the gaps in their knowledge? Do they need to know how to set up mail and calendar on their mobile device? Or do they need to know how to collaborate on spreadsheets or design team or project websites? What behaviour changes are required for people to maximise the benefits of the tools? Do people need to learn how to work collaboratively? Rather than guessing what the training needs are for a specific group - it’s best to find out directly from that group - either via focus groups or surveys. This is particularly important post-deployment when the needs of user groups might be different to what you expect.


    2. Design the training program


    Once you've identified what training needs exist within different departments across your organisation, it is time to design the content and training program accordingly. The key elements of this step are to identify:

    • What is the right training format for each user group?
    • What budget or resources exist to help with the design and delivery of content?

    Training comes in many formats including instructor-lead (typically classroom style), one-to-one coaching sessions, remote instructor-lead (via hangouts), and self-paced training which can be interactive e-learning, videos, or even printed materials such as a one page ‘cheat-sheet’ with instructions to follow with the new process or behaviour.
    An important element of the design of any training program is to ensure that you cover the reasons that the new skills or behaviour changes are needed and what the benefits are to both the organisation, team and individual are for working in the new ways. People won’t simply start behaving differently because they are told to or shown how to - explaining the benefits and reasons for the change is essential for any training program - regardless of format.



    3. Develop the content


    Based on the learning objectives captured and the format that has been decided upon, it is now time to develop the content of the training program. This could range from being a time-consuming, complex process if you’re developing videos or e-learning materials from scratch, or simple if you’re able to reuse existing templates and content (see for material that can be used for self-paced training, or the ‘lesson plans’ for scripts that can be used for instructor-led training)
    If developing the content is something that you don’t have the time or skills to do internally, you might consider using the content and services of dedicated training partners such as:

    If you do develop content yourself remember to focus it on behaviour change, specific use cases and meeting the needs that have been identified, rather than simply on the features and functions of the products. Below are some of the behaviour changes that might be applicable to various groups of your employees:

    Old behaviourNew behaviour
    Single emailsConversation threads
    Version 1.01, 1.02, 1.03, 2.01, …….Collaboration on one document
    Working aloneWorking together
    Being tied to your deskWorking anywhere
    Emailing filesSharing links to documents

    4. Deliver the training
    This step is more specifically related to training that is being delivered by an instructor either remotely or in-person. The key decisions to be made include:

    • Who will deliver instructor-led training? (internal trainer or external trainer from partner organisation)
    • If internal trainers will be delivering the training - how will you ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to deliver quality training?
    • Who will translate materials? (if needed)
    • Who will manage the logistics of instructor-led training such as booking rooms, travel for trainers etc


    If you have a choice between a trainer that has Google Apps product knowledge but no training skills or is an experienced trainer of other subjects but not an expert in Google Apps - my vote would go to the latter choice as it is easier to teach someone Google Apps product knowledge than it is to teach them how to be a good training facilitator. So making friends with your internal L&D department is a good idea!


    For self-paced learning, this stage needs to consider how you’ll share and distribute the content. Where will you make the self-paced learning available? Will you create a website? Add content to an existing LMS (learning management system), will you print handouts out and put them on people’s desks? Once you’ve made the decision about where the content will be hosted, also consider the communications activities that might be needed in order to inform employees about the existence of the content, and provide them with a form they can fill in to submit feedback or ideas for how these materials could be improved.



    5. Evaluate the training


    The last element of the training cycle is collecting feedback. This is something that should occur after every single training session - including e-learning. Collecting feedback immediately after the participant has completed the training will give you a insight into participants reactions to the content. Once you’ve collected this feedback you might need to update the content of the course before it is delivered next to improve elements of the course. To collect feedback from participants about how much they ‘learned’ during the training - you need to ask them to complete some sort of post training quiz or test where they are asked to demonstrate their new knowledge. For more information on the different levels of feedback that it is possible to collect - have a read of Kirkpatricks four levels of learning.


    As you can see from the image of the training cycle, training should be considered as an ongoing series of activities rather than a one time event. Consider who is the ongoing owner of Google Apps training materials and incorporate Google Apps training into the induction program for your new hires. Also consider how you will keep employees up to date with product updates as they are rolled out (check the What’s New site for details). Create a regular rhythm and format of getting all relevant updates out to your employees, be it newsletters, hangouts, drop in Q&A sessions or creating your own internal video updates - similar to ‘The Apps Show’. If this ongoing training proves challenging for you to keep up with internally - don’t forget that this is exactly where your partner can help out. Many of them offer regular hangouts to train their customers employees on product updates - have a chat with your partner to find out more about the services they offer in this space.


    As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on the above topic. What has worked well or not worked well in your organisation?


    I look forward to the discussion!