Your staff needs training in a particular area, so you do some research to find a course. You send your staff to the training and they come back enthused, assuring you that the class was enjoyable and that they were able to hone their skills through what they learned. The team has been trained, which results in increased productivity.

Does this scene sound familiar?

The unfortunate truth is that this is an all-too-common scenario plaguing many companies today. This is the typical approach many managers and companies adopt when it comes to training — identifying a skill deficiency, finding a course with the right learning objectives, sending the staff to take the course, and assuming everything is now corrected and on track.

In order to improve this practice, here are five steps in helping an organization successfully design and implement a training program delivering positive results:

1) Assessing real business needs:

The first step is determining precisely what gaps exist between the desired outcomes and the current state. Gaps can be determined by assessing the employees’ existing skill set and by analyzing the organizational practices that drive or impede new ways of doing things.

You can then review the existing training curriculum to measure the extent to which it delivers the necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes. Use this information to establish a baseline of today’s performance and identify the proper solutions.

Finally, consider selecting Key Performance Indicators that you would like to affect and, if possible, measure them before and after training to assess business impact. For example, a typical sales KPI is sales revenue.

2) Aligning the solution with the corporate strategy:

The solutions you choose must be aligned with the organization’s long-term strategic direction. In the case of a training solution, align training expenditures in direct proportion to corporate goals. Then, centralize accountability for producing high-impact training. Finally, solicit input from all levels of the organization on alignment and proper solutions.

3) Delivering active learning:

The best training solutions apply the principles of adult learning and respect the needs, limits and strengths of the participants.

Active learning requires three key elements:

– Experience: courses should be highly customized and reflect experiences from outside the classroom while creating relevant simulated experiences within the classroom.

– Engagement: courses must be designed using a variety of teaching methods and media and be entertaining to prevent boredom.

– Evaluation: learners must have opportunities to give and receive feedback on their progress throughout the learning experience to maximize application and retention.

4) Holding people accountable:

The lack of post-training reinforcement is the primary reason for failing to achieve improved performance. You can increase accountability by making expectations and desired results clear to management and participants prior to training. You can also have managers attend the training with their reports to create a shared learning experience.

Mandating the use of the tools, skills and knowledge delivered in the training also aid in post-training reinforcement. Track results and provide prompt, specific feedback on participant performance after the training.

5) Analyze results and calculate ROI for a limited number of programs:

At a minimum, assessment should be conducted for all training to ensure participant satisfaction and that, at the conclusion of training, the new skills and information were delivered and understood. For complex skills or to guarantee compliance, a more in-depth analysis will measure retention and assess to what extent the new information and skills have been transferred from the classroom to the field. Perhaps you can select one or two high-profile, high-impact programs each year for a complete business impact and ROI analysis.

Regardless of the type of training your organization is looking to implement, following this five-step process could have a significant impact on your organization’s bottom line.