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3 Fundamentals of Successful Training

Posted by Paul Sitter on 8/4/14 4:00 AM
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Every year, major league baseball players, people who may be paid millions of dollars for their skills, go to spring training. At spring training the team reviews the fundamentals of batting, throwing, catching, and running.

As trainers, it might be useful to review the fundamentals of our profession in relation to the instructional design and delivery of training, whether in a virtual classroom or brick-and-mortar environment.

Let’s start by reviewing the three fundamentals of successful training:

  1. Content should focus on the “need-to-know” details of the learners’ job.
  2. The training session should focus primarily on practice of the job.
  3. There should be mechanisms in place to reinforce application of what has been practiced in the classroom.

Now let’s examine each of these fundamentals in more detail:

  1. Focus on “need-to-know.” While many things such as benefit statements, overviews, and examples are covered during the presentation of content, the focus should be on the step-by-step process required to complete a task. While knowledge about a task is necessary, the knowledge-based pieces can often be incorporated in performance of the task. For example, if the task is to connect with a wireless access point, the knowledge of how networks function is nice-to-know, but the way to use a WiFi network utility on a wireless device is need-to-know. Identifying the need-to-know versus nice-to-know not only saves time but also maintains learner attention by covering content that is relevant to their success in the workplace.
  2. Focus on job-related practice. Ideally, the most effective training involves a majority of the time focused on learner practice. Knowledge checks are a good way to make sure they “get” what we’re saying. However, successful job-related practice of skills in the classroom is more relevant and, for the trainer, is a better indicator of the learners’ ability to perform back in the workplace. This type of practice shows that the learners can do it.
  3. Ensure reinforcement mechanisms exist. This will increase the likelihood that the learner will do it back in the workplace. While there are many low-cost, high-impact reinforcement activities (such as action plans or post-course activities), the strongest reinforcement is line-level management support of the training effort (more on that in a later blog). If the line manager says “Do it like they showed you in the classroom,” that’s the way it most likely will be done.

If your training reflects these three fundamentals, I guarantee you will receive a return on your training dollar investment.



Paul has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor’s degree in History. Throughout Paul’s career he’s had the pleasure of training for a variety of industries including sports, military, technical, aviation, and academia. Paul firmly believes with the right training and support, people can be competent performers in most positions. The organizational trainer is the key to providing that performance boost. In his spare time, you might catch sight of Paul on the sidelines of a soccer field, biking through Napa Valley, or spending some quality time with his family.

Topics: training transfer, tips-for-trainers

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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