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The Complete Guide to Training Delivery: A Competency-Based Approach

The Complete Guide to Training Delivery: A Competency-Based Approach

by Stephen B. King, William J. Rothwell, Marsha King

Editorial Reviews

Performance Improvement Quarterly
I highly recommend this book. The book is very thorough in its coverage, east to read, and easy to implement.
Outlines outstanding training delivery skills based on the latest research in the field, and presents 14 key competencies that the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction has identified for success in delivering group training. Explains the importance of each delivery competency to the effectiveness of a training program, then provides strategies for mastering and applying each skill in training situations. King works for a training and consulting firm, and teaches human resources and organization development at Johns Hopkins University. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Introducing Training and Training Delivery

Each time you prepare to deliver training it is like embarking on an incredible journey. You make plans, chart your course, assemble your equipment, and then you begin. Professional trainers who make a career of presenting instruction cite what they love most about the job-its constant variety, the joy of watching learners grow and develop, and the thrill of standing before a group of learners. Sometimes, however, there can be bumps in the road on the training journey: stage fright experienced by novice trainers; resistant, disruptive, and even hostile learners; and organizational problems that fall outside the instructor's ability to control. Trainers learn to take the good with the bad. In the end, they regard their unpleasant experiences as battle scars marking their own growth.

This chapter provides some important background information for you as you prepare for your journey. It covers the following topics:

* Definitions of key terms.

* How to determine when training is the appropriate solution to problems.

* How training is related to effective performance improvement.

* Summary of the fourteen competencies that are essential to effective training delivery (instruction).

You will find that each competency is like an important tool that you will need on your journey. By building these competencies systematically, as this book permits you to do, you can improve your effectiveness as a trainer and avoid common mistakes made by novice instructors.

Defining Key Terms

Many terms are used to describe activities associated with delivering classroom training. Training, for our purposes, focuses on enhancing learners' knowledge and skills. Knowledge is what people know or understand. Skills are what they can do. Training usually focuses on improving knowledge or skills related to an individual's current job performance. The immediacy of training can be contrasted with the longer-term focus of development, which prepares individuals for future responsibilities.

The people who conduct classroom training-who are called trainers or instructors-engage in such varied activities as presenting information, leading small and large group discussions, facilitating group processes, asking questions, and guiding learners through structured activities such as role plays or games. While training can be undertaken in many settings and through the use of many methods or media, in this book we will use the terms training or training delivery to refer specifically to classroom training delivery. The term instruction will be used synonymously with training delivery.

What are trainers expected to do? To answer that question, you might find it helpful to review the following-and typical-advertisement for a trainer that appeared in the International Society for Performance Improvement's (ISPI) monthly newsletter entitled News & Notes:

TRAINER POSITION: As a trainer you will conduct training sessions covering specific areas such as new employee orientation, on-the-job training, use of computers and software, sales techniques, systems training, new product information, and leadership development. You will participate on Curriculum Advisory Committees and confer with management to gain knowledge of work situations that require training in policy changes, procedures, and technologies. This position requires excellent communication (oral and written), stand-up training skills, and the ability to solve problems creatively. Qualified candidates must be customer-service oriented and show strong ability to form business partnerships with associates in the field, with the operations department, and within the training team.1

This advertisement provides an encapsulated position description of a trainer. It emphasizes the topics, such as new employee orientation and sales techniques, that the trainer will be expected to present. It also emphasizes key competencies required of an effective trainer, such as "excellent communication (oral and written), " "stand-up training skills," and "the ability to solve problems creatively."

Throughout this book we refer to instructional designers and make a clear distinction between trainers and instructional designers. Instructional designers, sometimes referred to simply as designers or instructional design experts (IDEs), are individuals who are trained in how to create instruction. They follow a rigorous, systematic process called the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model to design and develop effective training programs. You may wish to consult Rothwell and Kazanas, Mastering the Instructional Design Process, an excellent text on instructional design.

Designers work with subject matter experts to create programs that improve learners' knowledge, skills, or attitudes. Instructional designers, unlike instructors or trainers who deliver instruction, perform such activities as writing training objectives, preparing tests that cover the training material, deciding which training methods are appropriate, preparing instructional materials such as participant guides, instructor guides, and class activities, and much more. Trainers then deliver the materials prepared by instructional designers. In practice, trainers sometimes play both the role of instructional designer and that of instructor/trainer. But, in this book, we distinguish between the two roles to emphasize that effective training delivery must be based on a sound instructional design.

The Importance of Traditional Training Delivery

Classroom presentation skills remain important to success in the training field.

For instance, the 2000 ASTD State of the Industry Report identified instructor-led classroom training as the most frequently used instructional delivery method. The survey results revealed that over 70 percent of organizations considered to be training investment leaders used classroom training.

The results of this ASTD survey predict a rise in interest in technology-based training delivery methods, such as Web-based training or CD-ROM-based training. Some people believe that classroom training is becoming obsolete and is being supplanted by training delivered by personal computers, the Internet, or other technology-based platforms. While interest in technology-based delivery is obvious, it is unlikely that classroom training will ever become obsolete. One reason is that training participants want a "human touch, " which cannot be easily given by technology-based training delivery media. A second reason is that classroom training methods are generally more effective than technology-based methods for teaching people how to interact with other people. A third reason is that people in groups are more creative than they are as individuals, which makes group settings like classrooms ideal places to pool the knowledge of people to solve problems and discover new knowledge. In this book, we focus on how technology can augment training delivery rather than replace it.

Training Is Not Always the Appropriate Solution

To be effective as a trainer, you need to know when training is an appropriate means for solving problems-and when it is not appropriate.

To give you a chance to think about this, listen in on several conversations. The first is between an operations manager in a manufacturing organization and a trainer:

Manager: The work-teams down in the finishing department have really been having some trouble working together. The supervisors are at a loss to figure out what is wrong. They say they have tried everything-talking to the groups, individual counseling, and even taking disciplinary action such as writing people up. I can't figure out what is wrong down there.

Trainer: Well, it sounds pretty serious to me. I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but we have a two-day team building program that might help. We cover things like communication styles, getting to know others, and working together. This might be the answer.

Manager: Yes, that sounds good. Let's run all fifty people through that, and down the road we might send the whole plant.

Trainer: Great! I'll get right on it and we'll get this thing rolled out.

The next conversation takes place between the general manager of a large business unit and a trainer in a financial services organization:

General Manager: The reason I wanted to see you was that I recently had a conversation with a good colleague of mine. Her organization recently installed a TQM program that people are really excited about. I also read an article about TQM in the fight magazine on a recent trip to Cambridge branch.

Trainer: Yes, I'm familiar with TQM.

General Manager: What I want you to do is pull together a three-day workshop on TQM.

Trainer: No problem. How soon do we want to run it?

General Manager: Well, Sarah, the colleague I mentioned, already has a jump on us, so I'd like to see it ready to go as soon as possible.

Trainer: We'll give it top priority.

These conversations reveal a trap that trainers can sometimes fall into. Trainers, by the nature of their work, may view too many problems as requiring a training solution. Likewise, trainers may sometimes accept, without question, requests for training from others in the organization.

If you find this hard to believe, then consider the following critical incidents (difficult situations) provided by two respondents in our survey of training practitioners. (Our survey is described in more detail at the end of this chapter and in Appendix A.) These two stories, told in the actual words of trainers, demonstrate the valuable lessons that these trainers learned by acting on inappropriate requests for training when other solutions might have been more effective in solving problems.

Mismatch between Objectives and Needs

"I was hired by technical college to present an introductory Total Quality Management class to machine operators in a manufacturing company. I met with their human resource/training person and a site engineer to get the course objectives established. It seemed that they knew what they wanted, so I developed the course and delivered it. On the evaluations the response was so-so, but the HR person said the participants didn't like it much since they weren't going to use the information in their jobs. The coordinator from the technical college wasn't very happy either. I asked them to review what they had asked for, and it was apparent that what they asked for and what was needed were definitely different. "

No Training Required

"Management decided to inundate employees (plant operations) with fundamentals of the process they were already working on. To this end, I spend about 75 percent of my time gathering information about the manufacturing process and 25 percent of my time delivering the 'information' to people that already had a sound background on the subject matter. This was a very frustrating situation that I have little control over."

Trainers, when confronted with a performance problem or a request for training, sometimes accept the request at face value or assume that training is the best or only solution. But what if training is not the best or only solution? What if the person making the request is inaccurate? What if other solutions to the problem are more appropriate or cost-effective? The perception of training as a panacea for all performance problems may prevent you from troubleshooting the issues or discovering the root causes of problems. If training is not the best solution, using it will at best address symptoms rather than root causes. At worst, the desired results will not be achieved, and you will lose time, money, effort, and credibility.

The Relationship between Training and Performance Improvement

Before you can use instructional delivery or training delivery skills effectively, you must first possess a good understanding of the difference between training and performance improvement. In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in Human Performance Improvement (HPI). Training is not synonymous with HPI, but is rather a subset of it because training is only one of many solutions to performance problems. Joe Harless, a pioneer of HPI, defines it as "the process of analysis, design, development, testing, implementation, and evaluation of relevant and cost-effective interventions. " The four steps of the Human Performance Improvement process (see Exhibit 1-1 on next page) include analysis of the situation, selection of the appropriate intervention, implementation of that intervention, and evaluation of the results. The possible appropriate interventions include the workshops and programs traditionally viewed as training.

However, HPI is much larger than that and can encompass hundreds of specific interventions that can be brought together to solve performance problems or seize performance improvement opportunities. Training solutions (sometimes called instructional or learning solutions) are just one of a multitude of strategies and tactics that can be used. Other, nontraining solutions (sometimes called nonlearning or management solutions) may include taking action to improve feedback, implementing reward systems, offering individualized coaching, and developing job aids. It is important for you to recognize that training is an appropriate solution to a performance problem only when the root cause of the problem is, in whole or part, attributable to deficiencies in individual knowledge, skill, or attitude. When the root causes of the problem are attributable to other factors, then training is not the right solution.

What is also apparent from these scenarios is that a great deal of information was missing. To make a sound decision about whether training is an appropriate solution, you must dig deeper to gain a more thorough understanding of each problem through accurate analysis and diagnosis. This is accomplished by interviewing key stakeholders, observing people performing their jobs, and collecting and analyzing performance data.

Results-Based Training

When training is an appropriate intervention because the problem is caused by a deficiency in individual knowledge, skill, or attitude, then it should be results-oriented. Results are measurable accomplishments or outputs that focus on improved performance. Dana Gaines-Robinson and James Robinson, coauthors of the book Training for Impact, contrast results-based training with activity-based training. In activity-based training the success of the effort is measured by the number of participants in attendance (referred to as "butts in seats "), learner ratings on end-of-course evaluation forms, and the thickness of the training course catalog. These measures are based on activities related to coordinating and conducting training. But these measures are not necessarily related to the real impact of the training program in addressing the root causes of performance problems. The purpose of training is to bring about individualized change in the performance of the learners. It can be measured by comparing what they can do more effectively or efficiently after the training with what they could do before the training.

Training programs should not be designed or delivered based on what is "nice to know. " Instead, training should be time-efficient and focused carefully on what people must know or do to perform their work successfully. How often have learners in a training program on word processing been bored by a two-hour lecture on the history of computers that the trainer found interesting and therefore included in the training program? In such situations, fundamental questions to ask include: "How will this information help the learner meet the training objectives? " and "How will this information help the learner improve on-the-job performance? " If it will not, then it should not be included. Similar errors include incorporating games or activities into the training simply because they are fun. While entertaining activities can energize a group, they should not be overused, or used solely because they are entertaining. Always ask yourself, "How does the game or activity lead to improved learner knowledge, skill, or attitude that is essential to successful job performance? "

Training That Is Instructionally Sound

Sound instructional design is the backbone of effective training. Instructional design is the term used to denote the process of preparing effective training. It should, of course, precede delivery of that training.

We make the assumption in this book that the training to be delivered by a classroom trainer has been designed using an instructional systems design (ISD) approach. Such an approach ensures that needs were properly assessed and clarified, instructional objectives were correctly written, evaluation strategies were incorporated in the training, and the content, activities, and methods were identified and developed with attainment of the training objectives uppermost in mind. Training that was not developed using an instructional systems design approach is much less likely to lead to the training objectives.

In 1986 the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction (IBSTPI) sponsored a study that identified sixteen competencies associated with instructional design, which is a different study from the training delivery competencies but also described by IBSTPI. The basic instructional design model calls for five basic steps: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. This model is commonly referred to as the "ADDIE " model. The implementation step in the ADDIE model encompasses the main focus of this book, because it deals with classroom training delivery. Exhibit 1-2 illustrates an expanded version of the instructional design process derived from the IBSTPI instructional design study.

If you are the trainer, you must view the training design and content with a critical, honest eye. When the requirements of the instructional systems design model are not met, then you must initiate corrective action to modify the design, reassess the training needs and purposes of the course, and possibly even recommend the cancellation of outmoded, ineffective, poorly designed, or obsolete programs. You may find it difficult to cancel a program that you enjoy presenting. But even a good program will not endure forever. When the training no longer meets work-related needs, you may have to change it or drop it. If you ignore the need for course redesign when it is necessary, you will soon see problems such as dissatisfied learners, lack of results, or questions from management about its value. It is best to avoid this by taking action to ensure that the training is of top quality and is continually improved. Only in that way can you preserve your credibility and that of the training department.

Training Delivery Competencies

The International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (IBSTPI) has developed a set of standards that uses a straightforward definition of the term competency as "an essential skill without which an individual is not a qualified practitioner. " This definition of competency emphasizes the practical nature of the fourteen competencies identified in the IBSTPI study, which we will refer to throughout this book as the IBSTPI Standards. These competencies are focused on the job skills and behaviors of anyone who delivers training.

To be a competent trainer, you should be able to demonstrate the fourteen training delivery competencies found in the IBSTPI Standards. They are:

1. Analyze course material and learner information.
2. Assure preparation of the training site.
3. Establish and maintain instructor credibility.
4. Manage the learning environment.
5. Demonstrate effective communication skills.
6. Demonstrate effective presentation skills.
7. Demonstrate effective questioning skills and techniques.
8. Respond appropriately to learners' needs for clarification or feedback.
9. Provide positive reinforcement and motivational incentives.
10. Use training methods appropriately.
11. Use media effectively.
12. Evaluate learner performance.
13. Evaluate the delivery of training.
14. Report evaluation information.

The competencies can also be divided into three segments: those usually demonstrated before actual training delivery, those usually enacted during training delivery, and those exhibited after training delivery (see Exhibit 1-3). The competencies enacted during training delivery are organized into a circular pattern in the exhibit because there is no established sequence in which the competencies are exhibited. Rather, in practice, you should demonstrate the competencies as the situation demands.

Research Study

Although this book is based on the competencies appearing in the IBSTPI Standards, we also conducted our own survey to assess how trainers apply the delivery competencies. We also wanted to discover what common problems trainers face and how they overcome them.

* We prepared and mailed out a survey that addressed the following four questions:

* How important to success in delivery do trainers perceive the fourteen competencies to be?

* How difficult to demonstrate do trainers perceive each competency to be?

* What are the most difficult training delivery problems that trainers encounter, and how do they solve those problems?

* What are the most common training delivery problems that trainers encounter, and how do they solve those problems?

Selected survey results are presented in appropriate places throughout the book. They are meant to dramatize the competencies by introducing the perceptions and experiences of practitioners as they deliver training. We refer to these experiences as critical incidents. These critical incidents are difficult situations occurring in the lives of trainers that can shed light on what problems they face and what they do to solve them. Appendix A provides a more detailed description of the research methodology we used and the results we obtained.

This chapter set the stage for the book and covered the following:

* When training is (and is not) appropriate to solve performance problems.

* How training delivery relates to training design.

* The fourteen competencies tied to effective training delivery.

* How our research will be used throughout the remainder of this book.

Actionable Strategies to Improve Training Effectiveness:

Training Is Not Always the Appropriate Solution

* Remember that training cannot solve all human performance problems.

* Always analyze performance problems before recommending a solution. Analysis helps to ensure that the appropriate solution is applied.

* Nontraining solutions that can be applied to human performance problems include feedback, incentive systems, tools and equipment, performance standards, and hundreds of other interventions.

* Recognize that training is only appropriate for improving people's knowledge, skills, or attitudes.

* Avoid accepting requests for training, unless you know that training is appropriate.

Results-Based Training

* Recognize the difference between results-based training (training that makes an impact and leads to improved learner performance) and activity-based training (training that is conducted merely for the sake of training).

* Avoid training that is based on what is "nice to know " and focus on what learners must know and do on the job.

* Ensure that the training you deliver is instructionally sound and based on an instructional systems design (ISD) approach.

* Discontinue programs that no longer meet work-related needs

Excerpted from The Complete Guide to Training Delivery by Steven B. King. Copyright © 2001 by Steven B. King. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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