Set up a Total company Training Plan
What would you do if you were asked to develop a total company training plan?
How would you come up with a company wide learning and development plan?
If you were asked, as an internal or external consultant to help the company review, develop or improve such a process, what would you do? Where would you start?
There are many well-documented processes out there, which you may be aware of. I hope to outline in this article the main elements of such a process or a plan. The focus is on the practical aspects and the key principles* so that one can easily remember it or easy to refer to refresh our memory. I will refer to this entire thing as the learning system. Where do we start? Where we start could well depend on where the problem is, or where we are requested to look at. A good way is to start with the job competence framework (JCF). JCF defines all the different jobs and competency levels (e.g. from awareness, skill to mastery) that are available in the company. These job definitions are also often called job competence profile (JCP).
The second element in the learning system is the Learning catalogue, training materials (existing and/or new), and the learning infrastructure (e.g. websites, classrooms, logistics). The catalogue is a list of all the available courses and also holds new courses that will be added in the future.
The third element is the Learning Needs Analysis (LNA) process. The Training/Learning department manages this process and they do this by engaging the line managers or team leaders in the company. LNA consolidates all the approved training requests from line managers/team leaders, calculates the number of people who needs to be trained and uses this to develop the training timetable/schedule for the year (our fourth piece).
The fifth piece is the individual development plan discussion that takes place between each team leader and their direct reports. Staff can refer to the training catalogue to check what courses they would like to attend and discuss with their immediate manager what areas they would like to develop.
The sixth element is the running of the various training courses that have been scheduled. This involves hiring external trainers or using internal trainers to conduct the courses.
The seventh element is the assessment of the competence of the trainee. This part usually involves accredited type of training (e.g. industrial competency standards, internal accredited technical training, project management certification, etc.).
So, how does all these 7 elements fit together? A picture is worth a thousand words, so an easy way to integrate all these is to remember this picture - look at the picture below:
Learning Development System
Even with this picture, sometimes it is not easy to remember the entire process.
So, to simplify it even further, one way that I normally do is think of the LNA as the central piece, and think of the inputs and outputs to this process. What are the inputs in order to do a LNA?
I need to know what training is required, so input from the individual development plan discussion is required. If I am the Learning manager, I will look at ways to communicate the need for input from line managers or team leaders in the company. There can be different ways to do this. One is through a formal email communication to everyone at the beginning of the year. The other method could be through actions agreed at the management team meeting. The request can be actioned top down from the top leadership. However, the learning manager needs to maintain visibility and monitoring to ensure the loop is closed.
The other input to LNA is the list of learning that is available, reviewing existing curriculum and if anything new needs to be developed. This will trigger thoughts if there are any gaps in the current competency needs of the company. The need can come from the company's business plans & strategies or from feedback from previous courses conducted. The company's business plans & strategies is the place to look to see what additional training or change in current training is required. This builds tight integration and link between the training plan and company/organizational objectives. The competency framework and job competence profiles will naturally be considered if there are any changes to be made.
The output to the LNA will be the learning schedule, learning curriculum and assessment mechanisms. So, there you have it - the general picture of training or learning development system. If you are a consultant, you may be asked to review the entire system or just a certain part of the system. By having a holistic picture of how everything integrates together you can better diagnose or explain how your intervention will help improve the organization or company's process. A company wide total training plan would theoretically encompass everything but most people usually think of list of training courses and training schedule. But to come up with the courses and schedule, there is all these other elements that need to be remembered. This article shows how everything joins up together.
In a nutshell
- Remember LNA as the central process and ask yourself what are the inputs and outputs to this process.
- Remember the picture of LNA at the center and the other elements coming in and out of the LNA process.