As training professionals, we are responsible for designing the training menu. And everyone wants to know what’s cooking. Your decision of what you need to cook (sweet pies or savory pies for instance) depends on how well you have done your training needs analysis. A well conducted needs analysis will help you define your training goal with a high degree of precision. And your audience analysis will tell you a bit about your audience preferences and tastes. Here are a few lessons from the kitchen on serving wholesome product training fare to your employees.
So what is on the menu?
Do you want to cover all the products used by your employees? Or are you going to focus on the top two products, which you need them to use most often? And cover the remaining in the next phase of training activities? The answers to this question will give you a clear statement of what is in scope and what is not for your product training initiative.
Do you cook or eat out?
What are the best means to reach your goal? Do you cook it in-house? Or do you order takeaway? Or do you place an order with seasoned chefs and get a meal served at home? In the training context, if you don’t have the required skill-sets in-house, it may make sense to leverage the expertise of learning solutions companies that have been in this business for some time.
What are the various items that need to be factored for in addition to the main course?
You might want to start thinking of the following:
- Faculty (for blended learning)
- Vendors (if applicable)
- Project plans/schedules
- Communication plan
- Marketing plans
- eLearning champions
- Plan for updates: decide on upgrades/updated releases
What are the core ingredients of the dish?
Each dish has core ingredients without which it will cease to be the dish. Mashed potatoes won’t be called mashed potatoes if you substituted potatoes with, say mince. Sure, there are variations of the dish, but the core ingredients will stay the same. When it comes to your product training, keep this simple principle in mind.
How much of each ingredient do you add?
Try not to squeeze in too much of information into one course. You don’t have to cover each feature, but only the core or essential ones. This will make your dish less complicated and easy to serve up. Besides making it easy to eat. You don’t want your employees to feel overwhelmed, so highlight the product’s features and benefits which are of value to the customer. The user can get information on the remaining features from other supplementary material.
What ingredients do you avoid?
If your guests suffer from any food allergies, you would want to take utmost care to ensure that your food has no such ingredients. In the training world, here’s where you can make use of your audience analysis for maximum effect. It not only gives you a good idea of preferences, but also lets you know very specifically what to avoid.
How do you serve it up?
No matter how delicious your pie, your guests can appreciate it only in byte-sized pieces. Sometimes our strategy of pushing training to employees is the equivalent of shoving an entire pie down someone’s throat, just because they happened to mention that they liked its aroma. Make byte-sized learning available. This will also increase learner adoption of various delivery formats such as eLearning.
What toppings can you offer?
Offering a choice of toppings can help you cater to differing tastes within your target group. Some may like cheese, some may not. In your context, a few learners may prefer to do pre-work for a hands-on session through an online course, some may just prefer to just go through a fact sheet or data sheet. Make learning available in multiple formats where it is possible without running up huge costs. Of course you can’t cater to every single taste, but you can try catering to 2 dominant preferences.
What’s on the future menu?
You can’t feed your employees a steady diet of pie through the year. Try variations of the meal. Throw in an appetizer or two, let the main course be still your eLearning course, but wind up with a quiet after-dinner conversation with a SME who shares useful FAQS from his own experiences with working on the product. And so on.
How do you design the dining experience?
I’ve found that the sooner I free myself from any cordon bleu level of perfection, it frees me up from unrealistic expectations, and actually help design and deliver a better solution. Remember that your design will be iterative to some extent.
What’s the reaction?
After all that buzz, there will be mixed reactions as people dig into the meal. All may not like it. Some may prefer a different flavor altogether. The food critics may have a different take. Be prepared for reactions from various groups. Evaluate feedback judiciously – separate out the feedback to the training from the actual training experience (for instance, technology acting up can dramatically lower customer satisfaction scores even though the courseware itself is of high value).