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Documenting your training

February 1, 2009

Up to now I’ve been prattling about documentation in general and it is about time to get to the crux of the situation. The organisation aside, training needs to documented, and not just to cover yourself when someone calls into question the way the training has been conducted. The greatest disparity I see in organisations is between the way trainers train. Most believe it is up to the flair and finesse of the individual mentor, but as I’ve been discussing with this blog, it is the practice of regular and consistent techniques that achieve the best results over all. Disparity is another word for inconsistency.

So what is so important about documenting? To recap, documentation allows us to retain corporate knowledge, identify best practice, maintain a uniform workplace, promote company stance and set standards.

How do we document?

There are several ways we can document our training:

Training instructions:
Our training instructions hold our standards and processes (the first two parts of what we document). They stipulate what training is performed, what the performance benchmarks are (competency), how it is conducted, who can do it, what administrative action is necessary and what training resources are available.

They cover every aspect of training and if we want something done a particular way (or not done a particular way), then there should be a corresponding training instruction to cover it.

Training plans: This is our shared direction to the rest of the team. Technically it is a ‘fluid’ training instruction that details our objectives and the desired method of achieving them. Training plans need not only cover the actual training. Student consolidation, training development and administrative periods should also be accounted for.

Reports: Training reports come in two flavours; Student and organisation. I’m obviously talking about organisational reporting in this context because individual student reports will have some confidential elements within them. However, organisational reporting is built on the individual student reports as these are the indicators of our progress, or what we have achieved.

How often we need to report will depend on the organisation and the amount of training conducted, but as a minimum, quarterly. These reports should contain more than just statistical information on training conducted. You should be following up on past training, as well improving current practices and planning for future efforts.

Weekly newsletters continuously remind the other team members know that you are there. This is also a great opportunity to share information such as, what is available, what is planned, recent achievements and feedback, Why not include industry news, new projects, tips, resources and even a weekly quiz to keep employees sharp.

Web page: Do you have a company intra-net? If so, you need a company training web site. Why? For all the links to other resources and training materials for your trainers and students. If it can be managed with a content management system, it will also contain news and recent achievements. Why not even try a training blog or wiki.

Training Guides: Publish reference guides to summarise important procedures, tips and techniques for your trainers and students. These don’t need to be elaborate or professionally published. Just a simple welcome pack to new trainers and students with a list of references, resources and some practical advice.

Manuals: If a your equipment has a manual, why not reproduce it and include it as part of your operational documentation and hence, the training process. These usually vary in size, shape, depth and readability. This is your opportunity to take the manual and translate it into company speak.

If what you use doesn’t come with a manual – here is the opportunity to standardise some more of your procedures.

Document, document, document

I know that it sounds like an administrative nightmare. It appears as if every time we generate something, we document, even to the point of documenting our documentation. The reason why is that we need to use different formats to target specific audiences. We need to get the message across to every single member of the team if we all are to be working off the ‘same sheet of music’. So we choose the best medium and the relevant content for each individual element.

This is also an opportunity to involve other team members in the process. Sure the training manager writes the reports that float up the chain, but why can’t you involve new trainers or non-training team members to disseminate the news outward. They may just learn a thing or two about what is going on.

Do you have any more suggestions? Let me know how you document your training practices, your efforts and the results.

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