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7 Tips for Planning Your 2019 Learning and Development Strategy | Paradigm Learning

7 Tips for Planning Your 2019 Learning and Development Strategy

Posted by Derek Reynolds on October 11, 2018

With Q4 underway and the end of the calendar year in sight, many organizations have begun planning and budgeting for 2019. Planning, developing and implementing a learning and development curriculum to cover an organization’s yearly needs is no small undertaking. In fact, with the potential to impact every employee and help define your organization’s culture, planning next year’s learning and development strategy should be a top priority.

We’ve compiled a list of seven tips to help you plan, budget, implement and ensure the success of your next L&D year.

1. Define your projects

The scoping phase is an incredibly important, but frequently overlooked element of planning a training program. Program sponsors are bombarded with questions, opinions, and pressure to quickly launch a solution. Underinvestment in scoping can result in dramatically longer time to launch programs, substantial rework, and often disappointing program outcomes.

A comprehensive needs analysis can help crystalize the actual needs versus the organization’s perceived needs for development.

Getting consensus around a well-defined program objective may be time-consuming but will be critical to reducing rework and delays in the design phase. Be as descriptive as possible. Learning objectives should:

  • define clear and meaningful actions on the learner’s part
  • elicit observable behavior
  • include quantifiable criteria against which learners’ performance might be assessed

2. Set a timeframe

Defining the timeframe of your organization’s learning and development initiatives will help identify appropriate delivery dates for your training programs. To avoid clashing initiatives, it is important that new objectives fit into the broader timeframe of your organization’s goals and objectives.

ATD has some insightful survey data around the amount of time needed to develop one hour of training (hint: it’s more than you think).

A clearly defined timeframe can aid in managing stakeholder expectations and in solidifying the prioritization of learning objectives.

3. Understand the target audience

Having a clear, consistent articulation of why this program is important, and why now, will help guide the tone of the program, and will be an important input into the communication plan. Here are a few questions to considers when defining your target audience:

  • How large is the audience?
  • Where is the audience located?
  • How do they learn best?
  • Are their needs roughly the same, or are they very different?
  • Will they volunteer for development or will they need to be “voluntold”? Conversely, if there’s significant interest, consider whether managers should nominate candidates.

The answers to these questions can impact the scope of training, how the training is delivered and whether or not a different approach is needed for different audience segments.

4. Involve Your Team

Identifying training’s role within broader business objectives will reinforce buy-in from various stakeholders and will empower participants to reach personal and organizational goals.

L&D professionals should meet with sponsors on a regular basis for check-ins. During these meetings, he or she should be continually relating the program’s goals to the organization’s needs.

Ensuring that the design and development phase considers the input of learning and development professionals, subject matter experts and experienced organizational leaders will help prevent any blind spots. Devoting hundreds of hours to developing and delivering your organizational training initiatives will be a lot less grueling with the support and collaboration of a diversely skilled team.

5. Establish Costs

The costs associated with your training and development needs will be determined by several factors. The first will be the subject matter. Some examples include:

Next, estimate the costs associated with the:

  • Numbers of participants
  • Instructor costs
  • Travel
  • Materials
  • Facility costs
  • Food

Consideration should be given to time and effort associated with creating everything internally versus using vendor-partners with development and delivery expertise. An experienced learning and development partner may actually be able to create parts of the program more efficiently.

6. Get It Approved

Having a clear, consistent articulation of why this program is important, and why now, will help guide the tone of the program and will be an important part of the communication plan.

Present your initiatives in order of priority. Show the expected results of each one and the costs of each. If you are engaging with vendor-partners, leverage their help when creating the presentation to help build value. Make sure to emphasize the cost of not doing anything.

7. Measure impact

Measuring near-term impact of training programs is challenging. Getting clear upfront about how success will be measured will help you make decisions about pilot rollouts, identify when the program needs to be adapted and will allow you to proactively address questions about training ROI and impact.

“The added value learning provides to business can only be solidly proven in the application of knowledge, skills, or reengagement on the job.” - Jack Phillips, Ph.D., Chairman of the ROI Institute.

As part of helping the learning and development community measure the impacts of training efforts, we're conducting an all-industry 2019 benchmarking survey. The results of the survey will be published in January of 2019.

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