Don’t Train To Standard…Train To Employee Learning Need’s

Training Standard


I recently attended a month-long military HR training course, for the most part, it was definitely a learning experience. As in all things Army…nothing can even be simple…the Army has a lot of different HRIS systems all of which have different functions, and none of which are standard across its three components (Active, Reserve, and National Guard), imagine how effective Army HR specialists would be if everyone used just one system?! Someone put that on a General’s wishlist.


Anyhow, I don’t want to stray too far off topic which is the training course itself. The class composition was made up of adult’s with a wide range in ages, ethnic backgrounds, education, etc. The demographics definitely made for a very interesting group.


During the second phase of the course, our class was tackling a particular block of instruction (something along the lines of unit strength reconciliation) where we actually needed to work with some basic calculations in order to achieve the results we were looking for. As in all groups, some grasped the concept fairly quickly, while others needed some extra time to get caught up to the rest of the group.


This exercise really highlighted for me how individual adults have varying learning styles. I was trying to coach one of my classmates as best as I could to help them grasp the material at hand, but I was having a hard time getting through to them, then another classmate stepped in and explained the process in such manner where it just “clicked” for our classmate. That was awesome! I recommended to the classmate that stepped in to share his process with the rest of class in case there were others who were having the same difficulty as the classmate we had just coached, and so he did.


To my disappointment, the trainer did not want the students to use the method as described because she wanted to ensure that students were being “trained to standard.” Hey, I can understand that organizations will have a specific standards, or objectives for their training courses. Yet, it’s equally important to keep in mind what the overall training-value goal really is. What do you want your students to get from your training course? With a end-goal in mind, you can plan for deviations in training standards in order to ensure that the students learn the intended KSA’s and get the most value from the training itself. 


Maximizing training value is a tall order in and of itself, therefore; trainers should keep in mind that different people have different learning styles, which can be influenced by age, culture, or some other individual factor. Training is best effective when skill gaps are identified, targeted and aligned with organizational goals.


Training should also be able to meet the learning needs of the employees that require it. Learning needs should be factored in (i.e. during the development stage of a TNA process), for example: What would be the best format to deliver training material? Online? Face-to-face? Etc. Will hand-on activities add or detract from the overall training value? Having a firm understanding of employee learning needs will make the overall training experience easier on both students and trainers alike, and help to avoid ineffective training which translates into wasted time and resources.


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