The Key to Delivering Cost Effective and Time Efficient Training

Welcome to this HR Blast. This week we wanted to talk briefly about new ways of delivering training to staff in order to maximise effectiveness and minimise cost. Cascading training is the new approach, have you introduced it yet?

Two years ago we started selling Bags of Learning training kits to organisations wanting to deliver their own training in-house. One question that frequently gets asked is what cascading training involves and who can be used to deliver the training. Hopefully, this will provide the answer:

What is Cascaded Training?

For many years, organisations have been familiar with cascading business information down through the organisation: The leaders brief the senior team, the senior team brief the middle managers, the middle managers brief the supervisors and the supervisors brief their team members. Everyone is involved in the communication process. And cascading information in this way often works well, provided you find a way to ensure a consistent message is delivered and delivered promptly!

In the same way, cascading training is a great way to ensure large numbers of people are all trained in the same way, across a short time period.

  • Cascading training is a process of training one person or a group of people, who in turn each train a further group of people. As an example, a representative from each department / division / sector of a company may receive initial training and then be tasked with returning to their department / division / sector in order to deliver the training.
  • One opportunity is that training can become more powerful and meaningful as, during the cascading process, it is developed and adapted to include the additional ideas, knowledge and experience of each trainer in the chain.
  • Where there are large numbers of people to be trained, cascaded training can be extremely successful because instead of a purely linear model where one trainer delivers the same programme multiple times, cascade training can ensure that training is delivered concurrently in a significantly shorter timeframe.
  • Cascading training can also be very cost effective as the use of external consultants can be restricted to the early or first Train the Trainers session, with the remaining training being completed using internal resources.
  • It can also ensure that those who are delivering the training are those who are closest to the culture, challenges and issues faced by the delegates. This makes it meaningful, appropriate and hugely relevant.

The Challenges

  • Whilst it is a potential benefit of cascaded training that each trainer can add their experience and skill to the delivery, there is also a potential for the key learning messages to become diluted or worse, changed entirely to something quite different, through individual interpretations and communication (or miscommunication) of the message. Even where training is good, research indicates that at least a small part is lost at each stage. This can, of course, be minimised through introducing a quality control process.
  • The success of the training at stages two and onwards depends on the skill (and personal confidence) of the trainers at each level; if the skill level to deliver the training isn’t high enough, then the quality of learning will reduce as it moves throughout the organisation.
  • Training requirements may be different at different levels and so if training is not adapted appropriately by each level of trainer for their specific audience the training may miss the mark – appearing to be overwhelming or otherwise too basic.

How to Make it Successful

  • Careful planning from the outset with very clear learning objectives defined. This ensures that the trainers at each level are focused clearly on the outcomes they need to deliver. Where possible these outcomes should be kept reasonably simple, two or three key goals or skills should be sufficient.
  • Learning materials should be of high quality and easy to follow, with associated trainers notes. This ensures that at each stage trainers are equipped and confident and have the resources to deliver the learning.
  • If part of the message is lost at each level of training, it stands to reason that the fewer levels the better. If possible, limit it to just the initial train the trainer session and then the second level unless you have very large numbers of delegates to train.
  • Consider also introducing a quality control process that includes regular, retraining of trainers to ensure message are consistent and that trainers are skilled.
  • It may sound obvious, but choosing the right people to be the secondary trainers is crucial. If they lack the skills and experience and just as importantly the confidence to deliver the training themselves then it’s almost certain that the value of the subsequent training will be damaged. Crucially, though, they do not have to have the word ‘trainer’ in their job title. Training can be delivered by any experienced manager or director who has the confidence to stand in front of a group of 8-10 people and lead a session.
  • Build in a method of evaluation before the training is begun. In addition to asking the trainees themselves what they felt they learned and whether they valued the training, consider if there are more tangible ways to measure the success. Are you expecting to see a reduction in customer complaints? Less wastage? More sales or referrals? Monitoring the outputs of the training will enable you to see if it was successful and in which ways or areas you might want to adapt it in future.

Using Managers to Deliver Training

  • Be clear that all managers in today’s world are expected to coach and develop their staff. Adding training skills to their skill set as managers is just one other aspect of this. But in doing so, be aware that some managers will be more ready for this than others. That’s not a problem, initially select only those who are ready.
  • Be clear with managers that this is not about them having to take whole days away from their normal duties to deliver training. The beauty of cascaded training is that courses are often written in bite-size chunks and short/mini training sessions can be fitted into the working week as and when they are needed.
  • Ensure that managers know that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect trainer’. Every trainer has their own style and their own strengths and each manager should be proud to deliver training in a way that is right for them.
  • When delivering Train the Trainer, you have two options. The first is to deliver a condensed version of the course, showing those being trained what materials there are, what exercises there are, where the challenges might lie etc. You should allow about 1 hour for every 2 hours of course materials they will need to deliver. The second is to deliver the full course to those being trained so that they experience it fully. This second approach is more suitable for managers who have never delivered training before or for those where the topic is a very new one. Allow 2 hours of train the trainer for every 2 hours of course to be delivered.
  • If anyone is unsure of their own abilities, why not team managers up so that they present in pairs? This might mean you have two managers tied up when otherwise you might have had just one. However, this inconvenience will be nothing compared to the money saved by rolling out training in-house, or the increased engagement through delivering training face to face rather than using dull and uninspiring eLearning.
  • Be careful not to allow any internal trainers to make managers feel they are less than adequate for delivering training. Managers are no less adequate and, in fact, their knowledge of the real issues and clear understanding of the workplace will be invaluable when discussing issues raised in the training.
  • Log who delivers what and when. As with cascaded communications you want to be sure that all staff are receiving training in the right way and at the right time. Don’t just set the cascade going and then assume it will all happen. Careful management all the way, with regular retraining as required.

Interested to learn more and understand what the options are for your organisation? Call us today: 01425 479888

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individual matters.

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