The phrase “one-size-fits-all” can be a bit misleading, whether it refers to socks, gloves, hats, or even watches or clothing. Can something really fit both my six-year-old and me? One-size-fits-all is good in theory but doesn’t always work in real life. Why would your learning program be any different? Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to training can hinder your ability to meet business goals, because it doesn’t enable you to tailor your program to your learners.
A program that worked for another company may not work for you; you have different needs and a different culture, and you may even be in a different industry. Teaching retail staff is not the same as teaching technical managers, and teaching remote staff is different than teaching an in-person audience. Running training the same way for unique groups will not help you meet goals and most likely will leave your learners needing more. The best way to make sure your learning program works for you and your learners is to start from scratch and make it a custom project. Here’s how.
First, take some time on your own or with a trusted learning partner to discover what it is you truly need and what goals you are trying to accomplish. Throughout this phase, you may find that a single goal splits off into a few different buckets. “Increasing revenue” might be the bottom-line business goal, but training people to accomplish that goal will look different for product developers, marketers or sales reps. Take the time to find the best way to train each specific group in a way that makes sense for their roles.
Second, design a training plan. Don’t worry about creating content yet; just think about how the training should look. Will you want it all done in person? Is there room for virtual instructor-led training (ILT), or is e-learning a more effective way to go? Will you need a repository for all your content? Will that content be digital, like quick tips and “how-tos” learners can access online or through a company system? Take some time to consider your learners and how training will work best for them. Ask yourself and your team how you can give your learners the right information at the right time in the right format.
Once you have created your plan, it’s time to create content. If you have in-house designers and content developers, great! They know your business and can start right away. If you’re partnering with a learning firm, its instructional designers and content developers can start creating content that’s customized for your learners. A great firm will provide contractors who can learn your needs, fit your office culture and are willing to work hand-in-hand with you to create the content you need. They will be experienced in different types of delivery and will be able to create easily understandable, concise and motivational content.
Fourth is the fun part: It’s time to start your learners on the path to knowledge, behavior change and goal accomplishment. If this training plan is a large one, it may include several different modes of delivery. It could include ILT on site or virtual ILT for remote staff. It could encompass pre-work, knowledge checks or at-the-elbow support. If it is a small plan, you may already see the light at the end of the tunnel. A small workshop or lecture-style class may be all you need to convey the right information.
No matter what your training is, how it looks, or how it’s delivered, a customized plan is the best way to make sure you meet your goals.