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Jan 29, 2014

What’s in Your Training Toolkit?

by David Hofstetter, Manager, Learning and Development at New England Organ Bank

I have to ask the question: as trainers, are we doing a good enough job at scoping a training request when it comes in? 

The answer is:  sometimes!   

So what tools should we add to build that toolbox to be able to move the answer to yes? 

Do we do a good enough job at identifying the real issue or are we in such a hurry to meet a requested deadline that we simply take the word of the requestor? How do we know we are truly solving the issue and not just meeting a request?  


How do we know if the issue is behavioral, process, environmental, a change in requirements or a lack of skill? My guess is that we tend to take our best guess because the deadline is yesterday. The request goes something like, “I’m having this issue with my staff and we need training. Can you have it for us for our department meeting next week?” While that may be an exaggeration, you get the point. 


A few questions to ask:  is it the entire staff, a few people or only one person who is having an issue? What’s changed, if anything? We need to dig deeper. We shouldn’t paint training with a broad brush, which we so often do due to time and resource constraints. 


We should really spend time to determine the root cause of the issue or change. While we may not need or have the luxury to spend months conducting a formal root cause analysis, we can utilize some of these tools to help in determining the root cause.  


As you may know, conducting a root cause analysis consists of the following steps: 


·       Define the problem
·       Gather data
·       Identify possible factors that could have caused the issue
·       Identify the root cause
·       Recommend and implement solutions 


What can trainers learn from this method? This is very similar to the instructional design methodologies. OK, it’s the same as an instructional design model. Yet we don’t always use the same tools as our colleagues from quality do.  

Having said that, we should add in root cause analysis tools to our toolkit. Here are three to begin using right away: 


·       5 Whys
·       Drill Down
·       Cause and Effect 


While this list isn’t a complete list, these three are easy to understand and implement.  A brief description follows. 


5 Whys

This is a process where you ask why five times to get to the root cause of the issue. This will help in determining why the training is necessary at a much deeper level. 

Identifying a problem statement is the first step in the 5 Why method. You would then ask, why did that occur? Once that was answered, you again ask, why did that occur? You repeat this process until the root cause is identified. Once identified, you can focus in on the training issue and create a training program that truly addresses the issue. 


Drill Down

Using this technique, you break the issue into smaller chunks to better understand the bigger picture.  


Cause and Effect

Create a chart of all of the possible causal factors to determine where the trouble may have begun. This will help in determining when a change in behavior or skill occurred.  

This isn’t by any means a comprehensive list but it will get you started on a training path using quality tools. 

We all have our favorite tools that we use for design.  For instructional designers it may be Captivate, Storyline, Articulate, or Lectora, to name just a few. For documentation specialists it may be Snagit, Docutools, any of the different Adobe products and more. Those are all great creation tools but don’t forget about the tools to help in the scoping of a project. 

What are your favorite tools in helping decide what type of training should be offered? What are your trusted methods to determine what the training should include, what the training should look like and who needs it? 


David Hofstetter is the manager of learning and development at New England Organ Bank. His current role involves him in coaching, performance management and learning and development. He holds a Master of Science degree in organizational psychology from Capella University, a Bachelor of Science in business management from Northeastern University and a Certificate in training and development from Boston University. David has been involved in corporate learning and development as well as performance management consulting prior to his current role. He is a member of American Society of Training and Development, President of the Central Massachusetts American Society of Training and Development Chapter and is currently Chair of the Education Committee of American Association Tissue Banks (AATB).






Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of his or her employer, GxP Lifeline, its editor or MasterControl Inc.

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