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Perfecting Your Annual Strategy

Most folks in the corporate world already have their annual plan somewhat established. It may not be finalized, mind you, but it’s at least in the works. While you’re still in the polishing stage, we would like to suggest some things you may want to consider from a training standpoint before you finalize that PDF:

1. Evaluate resources realistically

Every year, we see companies that have not anticipated the right amount of training dollars for their initiatives. With the world moving so quickly toward consumer education and instantaneous information gratification, having the right education available with each initiative is crucial—whether that initiative is a new system roll-out, a process adjustment, or a product launch. Yet our clients often find themselves stuck with the budgets of the past that allowed for a couple hours of classroom training here and there. No rich media. No quick access. No follow-on support tools. We suggest you shake things up a bit this year and push your budget to allow for that new perspective.

Don’t forget about internal resources either. You may be able to get support from other departments to launch a program or get employee buy-in. Talk to HR, marketing, or others you think might be useful to see whether they can make your training even more successful. Having internal help can fill holes if your budget is already stretched.

2. Allocate budget throughout the year, so you’re not stuck with a year-end push

December is nearly always our busiest month at Allen. Why? Because we have dozens of clients who come to the end of their year with leftovers: leftover needs and leftover funds. Often those funds are from other departments whose budgets were misaligned; sometimes those funds are because they themselves anticipated they were going to get more done than they were able to. Regardless of the reason, try to realistically anticipate your needs, and make sure you’re not saving the majority of your to-do list for the end of the year. You’ll likely enjoy the holidays more.

3. Determine how your learners are changing and how that should affect your plan

Learning and development is flooded with trends right now, and it can be overwhelming to sort through what is useful for your organization. Trends we’re seeing are: social learning, mobile and responsive design, gamification, consumer education, flipped classrooms, learning pathways, communication plans, and follow-on support tools. Some or all of these may be relevant to your learners.

We suggest you take some time and evaluate your learners’ needs and recent responses to training—have you applied these trends yet? Could you? Is there just one approach in your training plan that you could change up and make even more relevant to today’s learners? By improving learner response and engagement, you’ll also better meet your business goals.

4. Take the lessons from last year to make this year’s plan better

This one is so obvious that you might think it doesn’t need to be said. But it’s also something that I have a hard time doing every year, and I know others struggle, too. Every year has some lessons learned; we should probably not relearn those same lessons year over year. I suggest we each take an hour or two before the year ends and make sure we will be solving problems in the new year instead of perpetuating them.

These are just a few of our lessons learned that we’re recommending to clients this year. Just like any resolution, it’s not effective unless it’s actually applied. I know I, for one, am reevaluating my approach to some things and reshaping through my rear-view mirror. Let us know if you’d like us to help you adjust your focus.

What do you hope to do better this year?