Training Development Best Practices

by EMM Group

Market and Data Analysis

Training is one of the key foundational requirements for building a successful, sustainable marketing excellence program. One which continuously improves and adds increasing value to the business. Without quality training, even your hardest working marketers – and marketing organizations - will be behind the curve and struggling to catch up. Equally important training reduces turnover by showing employees the organization cares and is willing to invest.

But training development – putting together an effective training program that both edifies and unifies the marketing team – is unfortunately overlooked or poorly handled in many organizations. Others may focus intently on curriculum, but fail to take in the broader view required to fit a solid curriculum into an overall successful training program.

Here are five best practices your organization can apply to develop a training program that really works:

1. Start with the framework, not the training material

When the HR team is tasked with creating a training program, the training materials themselves often become the first and most important consideration. But this is putting the cart before the horse. It’s necessary to take a step back and consider the framework into which those training materials need to fit.

You don’t just want to consider, “What work do we want them to do?” You instead need to ask, “How do we want them to do the work?” To truly be effective, the training program must reflect how YOU want the work to be done. Then, training materials must be selected or developed to teach those methods.

When the business dives first into creating or purchasing training materials before agreeing on an underlying framework  – and ensuring those materials are actually accomplishing the purpose they’re shooting for – it leads to poorly connected courses that fail to build on each other and students who are uninspired.

2. Include everyone, not just the junior team members

Most ill-advised training programs are designed as introductory courses that can help a brand new team member become familiar with the basics of the job, leaving more senior practitioners exempt because they already know the information.

Not only is this inefficient (since you’re only benefiting part of the team) but it leaves senior practitioners misaligned with their junior counterparts, resulting in confusion and missed opportunities. A better solution is to create training programs that are continually evolving to provide practical updates on current skills, and if your senior practitioners truly don’t need the education themselves, use them as trainers.

This arrangement keeps the whole team aligned, sets up senior members as mentors to junior members, and ensures that training benefits all, regardless of their level of experience.

3. Focus on learning transfer from the start

The biggest challenges most training programs face is in getting participants to apply what they’ve learned to their daily activities well enough and long enough that it becomes a part of their daily routines.

This does not happen accidentally. Learning transfer needs to be considered during training development so that it is an integral part of the course from the start. Ideally, this will be reflected in the right job aids, the right pre-work, and necessary follow up to help students apply what they’ve learned even weeks after the course is complete.

4. When working with dispersed teams, leverage blended learning

Blended learning – the strategic use of digital and online media in a self-paced instructional setting – allows for students who are widely dispersed to experience a unified training program even though they can’t sit in the same classroom. But a curriculum and materials designed for classroom use won’t automatically translate perfectly into the blended framework, so this needs to be considered at the start.

5. Consider a “learning contract” to focus on accountability

Adult learning principles advocate placing the responsibility for learning on the students rather than the teacher. Following through, this must be effectively reflected in the training materials and framework as well.

One excellent method for creating accountability is to have the students sign a “learning contract” – an actual document that spells out what they should expect to learn and how they are expected to use the training going forward. By signing the contract, the student clearly understands the expectations and can take those into training with an eye toward carrying out the agreement.

Then, of course, follow up by management and/or the trainer in the weeks and months to follow training will enforce accountability.

With these best practices in mind, training development can be more efficient and effective for everyone involved, and can help support a broader marketing excellence program that truly thrives.

Free Guide: Using Brand Promise to Achieve Marketing Excellence

Keywords: Market and Data Analysis