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Standards To The Rescue

Updated: May 23, 2023

There's a challenging phenomenon currently taking place in the Learning & Development (L&D) field.

Unfortunately, many L&D departments are understaffed, overworked or non-existent. In some companies, the organization is so large there's a communication gap between business units and L&D. Any of these situations can leave business units isolated, forced to focus on their own training efforts.

This means the task to develop and deploy training is often delegated to someone outside the training department (perhaps even someone with little-to-no background in training). Does this sound familiar? It's clear your colleagues face a difficult challenge before they even begin. What can be done to support them and aid in the successful delivery of your next training program?

That's where training standards come in. These guidelines can help them go from the typical PowerPoint presentations (commonly referred to as “death by PowerPoint”) to developing short, clear performance pieces that help your employees.

What Are Training Standards?

Training standards are branding, style and learning guidelines written for anyone at your organization needing to develop a course or implement a curriculum – from L&D personnel to business unit managers to subject matter experts. These standards define acceptable procedures to help ensure the quality and consistency of your training content, learning activities and delivery methods across training sessions.

Purpose of the Standards

The purpose of creating training standards is to thoughtfully guide the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of a wide variety of training programs. Your standards should outline the most effective elements of your learning program and become the foundation upon which future courses and programs are created and supported.

How to Use the Standards

The following are examples of how documented standards can be used as guidance to ensure the quality of your company's training:

  • Training managers or training project leads can use the standards to plan, implement and evaluate training components and learning interventions.

  • Course designers, subject matter experts and training developers can use the standards to design, develop and evaluate training content and curricula.

  • IT experts and Learning Management System admins can use the standards to assist with training implementation and launching courses.

  • Managers can use the standards as a reference when developing job descriptions and setting performance expectations for training staff or outsourced training consultants.

  • Upper management can use the standards as a basis for developing and implementing training policies and strategies across business units (enterprise-wide).

Note that in some situations, it may not be possible to meet all the standards. In these situations, you should still use the standards to guide the process and evaluate the outcome. Just know that certain limitations may exist.

Ideally, this would be the exception and not the rule. Your documented standards should be what everyone is working toward, as they define the quality you are seeking to achieve. And when all standards are met, not only is it easier and more efficient to develop and deploy training programs, but you'll find these standards also result in improved job performance for your learners.

Consider a Standards Kit

To facilitate the transition to and adoption of your new training standards, consider developing a "standards kit" that includes sample documents, templates and resources. Your kit can include items such as:

  • A high-level checklist to help business unit or training managers quickly apply the standards, delegate tasks, distribute kit resources and guide project progress

  • A set of guidelines and resources to help users successfully apply training design and development best practices to deliver effective and engaging training programs

  • A basic outline template that defines the learning objectives and activities in a course

  • Templates for a facilitator guide, participant workbook and PPT used in classroom training

  • A storyboard template and possible authoring tool template (i.e. Storyline, Captivate, etc. template) used to develop eLearning

  • Templates for virtual-led training, job aids, handouts, action plans and other regularly used resources in your training programs

  • Samples of any of the above listed items

  • A library collection of logos, graphics, video and other resources that can be used in training courses

  • A list of preferred vendors for outsourcing training development, voice narration and/or translation services

Encourage users of the new standards and kit materials to collect any qualitative and quantitative data on their training programs and share lessons learned. You can then use this information to address concerns and make improvements to the kit, as well as acknowledge successes and continue to build upon what works.

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