Q: I’ve been given a stretch task — to design a training program for employees for a new program. I’ve never done something like this and wonder what I should keep in mind.

Lorraine, 35, business analyst

A: Bring together a variety of resources to help you succeed.

Reflect on trainings you have attended. Some may have stood out because you took away clear and lasting lessons, mastered new concepts, or learned new skills. Others may have been more lackluster.

Consider the structure of the training, the method of delivering content, ways to make it interactive and the characteristics of the trainers.

Shift your focus to the specifics of this particular training, creating a plan to ensure you cover all the bases.

Get started by building an ad hoc team to help. Recruit subject matter experts, people with visual design skills, and writers to put this together. As with other projects, leading an effort doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself.

Working with your team, define the attendees’ needs, especially if you have multiple audiences, such as sales and operations. The content and level of detail needed will likely differ dramatically.

List learning objectives for each audience and determine how much time is needed to achieve the objectives for each target audience.

Draft a schedule, working backward from launch time to ensure you have time to get the training in place.

Don’t settle for lecture style PowerPoint trainings. Look online at tools you can use to create a more dynamic system. Self-directed learning opens up a lot of possibilities for information sharing plus the ability to practice technical skills. Also check on resources available at your company, in case you have tools to develop your training.

Build in efficiencies by reusing materials across multiple purposes. For example, make an introductory video that can set the stage for all trainings. Modularizing your content provides a lot of flexibility.

As you draft your materials, test them with members of your audience to make sure the information is clear and relevant. Use their comments to boost the content, and also solicit feedback on the structure of the training.

We have talked a lot about content; however, you also have to plan the logistics. If you have multiple locations and need to do in person training, find a contact person at each location and start planning for meeting rooms, meals, audio visual and other practicalities well in advance. The more you can delegate this the better, as it can eat up a lot of time.

Get your invitations out early, even if you can just do a “hold the date.” Your attendees will appreciate the ability to plan ahead. And consider what you’ll do for those who can’t attend, or who are hired after the training. Recording a session for later use can provide a lasting resource and serve as a tangible reminder of your efforts.


What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, leadership coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at liz@deliverchange.com.