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Turning Training Trends Into Action

Even after knowing which trends have produced results, it isn’t easy to know which of those will be most effective for you. Every company has unique needs and learners, and every company is at a different point in the evolution of their curriculum.

So how do you know where to start? How do you analyze what techniques will complement your existing content, or communicate most effectively to your learners?

We’ve put together a foundation to help you get started, complete with time-tested tips and best practices from two of our performance consultants, Megan Gutierrez and Scott Armstrong. Knowing the budget, time and resources of your team will provide the parameters of what you’re able to do, but there are many other things you should know to set your learning on the right track for 2016 and beyond.


What do you want to accomplish? If you don’t design a learning solution with goals in mind, it’s going to be less effective right from the start. Each piece of your training should be included for a specific reason. If you don’t know or haven’t defined your goals, the training may only partially meet your needs and waste resources on ineffective techniques.

Megan: Think about Current vs Future state. What are we doing today and what do we want to do tomorrow? How is training going to bridge that gap?

Scott: Good goals are measurable. Otherwise you won’t be able to tell whether you’ve achieved them or not. Good goals are also appropriately narrow. If you’re creating training for a single group or team within a large company, for example, you should understand that things like quarterly profits are a function of a variety of internal and external factors, many of which will be out of your control. It’s best to set goals that focus on things you can reasonably expect to influence.


Once you know what you want to accomplish, you need to understand your learners. What motivates them? What medium would communicate to them most effectively? How much time can they spend on training? Would they like more or less structure?

Megan: This is part of a performance mapping approach.

  • Know your audience
  • Identify the business goal driving the project. What business result will we see after our employees finish this training?
  • Identify the training goal. What do we need our employees to do after this training? What behaviors are we looking for?
  • Then flesh out exactly what you need your learners to do/know/feel in order to change the behavior identified.
  • Finally, prioritize the information by importance, difficulty, criticality. Where do learners get stuck? What is essential to know to perform the job?

What programs have been most effective? Which flopped? Do you know why? Think about whether you had the right infrastructure in place. Maybe you chose to deliver the training in a way that was inconvenient to learners. Was the look and feel of your program as engaging as the information? Was the program launched without any promotion or communication?

Many things contribute to how effective your training is, and to build on success or avoid pitfalls you must take an honest look at past training.

Scott: Before starting any new project, it’s important to conduct some analysis of your current training and the learners consuming it. What’s working well? What’s failing? Are learners excited about training, or is it considered a chore? Are you getting the results you want? Why or why not? Honestly asking questions like these will help you determine whether you need to stay the course, tweak your approach slightly, or make wholesale changes with your new project.

In order to meet your goals, your learners need to know specific skills or behaviors. Does your program address those needs or is there a gap in your training? You should also look ahead at what parts of your training are aging. If certain pieces are outdated or will soon become so, you should also include that in your plan.

While these kinds of gaps take resources to fill, it’s also an opportunity for you to update the information and delivery method. If you previously had a how-to in a text heavy format, it is the perfect time to incorporate a video into your existing curriculum.

Megan: Part of the performance mapping process is really understanding the gaps. What is most important? Once you have identified most critical areas, you can make sure you have the content you need to fill those areas.

Is your LMS stopping you from personalizing your training? Maybe you want to do mobile learning, but your workforce doesn’t all have access to a phone or tablet. Perhaps you’re buried under a mountain of technical content. While some of these obstacles can be dealt with, others may not be feasible.

By identifying the obstacles in your path, you can either plan for the time it will take to overcome them or you can come up with an alternate way to reach your goals. Regardless of what you end up doing, it’s better to know at the beginning than be surprised halfway through design.

Scott: If you’re attempting something you’ve never done before, make sure to estimate conservatively when it comes to things like budget and timeline. You don’t want stakeholders to take a negative view of an otherwise great project because you were too optimistic about when it would be done or how much it would cost.

Megan: The biggest roadblock is lack of or too much content. You can start to see this unfold during performance mapping. The second one is people. This really is just about understanding who you are working with and who you need to make sure to get on your side.


When you’re implementing a program that comes from a trend, some people on your team may be reluctant to move away from what you’ve traditionally done. Think about what objections people may have and show how change is going to be better for the company than the status quo.

Megan: There are a few major things that stakeholders respond to across every project. Talk about business impact (how it will better the business), learner impact (what problem is it going to solve), and current vs future state (what we are doing now and what we will do after).

Scott: It’s natural to be excited about your project, and that enthusiasm can be contagious. Just make sure to focus your pitches to stakeholders on the results you expect from the project rather than your own pet interests.

If you’re trying to get buy-in to replace a boring web-based course with a cool new training game, talk about how the engaging features of the game will lead to better learning and improved performance, not how you’ve always wanted the chance to make a game (even if it’s true). It’s not about you; it’s about results.

Need a template to start from? Check out our ANSWER analysis to kickstart the planning process.