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Planning to succeed

March 3, 2008

Having a plan is important. How it is implemented is critical. Developing the plan is only part of the process and even a great plan will fail if it is ineffectively employed in the workplace. This is why the process of planning must include promotion, publication and review cycles.

To create and implement an effective plan, we need to follow these steps:

  1. Identify the objectives: Understandably, the overall objective of the training is competency, but breaking the training into ‘chunks’ allows different strategies to be employed for each component. This should be a comprehensive list of topics that are going to be taught (eg  induction training might include; OH&S, Daily routine, Code of conduct, Performance, Work place layout etc)
  2. Restructure the objectives into goals: Break each of the topics into short, medium and long term goals. The larger this list the better and at the very least you will be listing each of the individual competencies. Usually this will be longer as some competencies will involve smaller steps to achieve them progressively. Look for progressive learning opportunities so that the you can lay foundations and build on current competencies.
  3. Identify necessary resources and hurdles. This what you will need it terms of trainers, equipment and facilities. Estimate the hours required and look for periods of unavailability for each of these. Don’t forget to look at the student. Often the student can perform in some capability and may be employed by the organisation elsewhere as the need arises.
  4. Create the plan: Draft the plan, marrying goals with resources necessary to achieve them. How is up to you, but the simpler the better. You can use a calendar, spreadsheet, project management software or even Powerpoint slides to identify training periods. Use what is familiar to you and the rest of the workplace. Develop contingency actions for possible shortfalls or critical points.
  5. Review the plan: This is not just checking to see if you missed anything in the transcription. Involve everybody that will be a part of or affected by the training and gain their participation from the start. They may be able to offer valuable insight into problems and if they feel some ownership, it will assist the plan’s implementation.
  6. Publish it: This is the ‘shared direction’ for the entire team, not just the trainers. Anybody the training effects (even the customers in some cases) will need to know what the impact will be. This also means promote it. There will be less resistance and resentment if everybody understands what is going on. Make it visible to everyone – yep everyone. The boss, the cleaners and the guy who only works every second Tuesday.
  7. Review it regularly: This means advising all of the key stakeholders of any significant changes (or no changes) on a regular basis. How often depends on the length of the training. As a rough guide, every 10-15% of the training do a full review and re-publish if there are any changes. Let everyone know when what the review cycle is. This will make them look at the plan at least that often for changes and if you amend it ‘out of cycle’, the impact will be greater.

There is a military saying that says “no plan will ever survive first contact with the enemy” and sure enough, every time a plan is implemented, it will need adjusting. Is this a reason not to plan? – absolutely not. It is far easier to adjust a plan than it is to respond without one, especially if the planning involves identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) and establishes how to effectively use or negate them.

Planning is a key component of some other extremely effective training techniques. This topic was born from the role it plays in improving your ability to evaluate a student’s progress. It is also critical in using multiple trainers and reviewing training, but most importantly, uniting the entire team. Having the training team on board is important but have the entire organisation behind the process can mean the difference between the success or failure of achieving your training objectives.

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