Gary Jensen

One of the most important, and perhaps most difficult, parts of being a trainer is creating cost-effective training programs that close knowledge and skill gaps effectively and efficiently, while keeping participants engaged in the learning process. How do top trainers accomplish all that? They rely on good instructional design.

Instructional design is the practice of improving the effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal of learning experiences (Wikipedia).  One of the most commonly used models for successful program development is known as ADDIE – a generic term that describes the five phases of systematic instructional design: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.

Trainers who utilize the ADDIE model produce well-designed programs, not only in terms of content, but also overall learning experience. The better the learning experience, the more likely participants will retain new knowledge and be able to apply it effectively on the job.

Analysis – Before architects draft a blueprint, they first gain a clear understanding of what is being built. Similarly, a trainer should begin by clearly defining the problem and identifying goals and objectives. This includes conducting a gap analysis and reviewing audience needs, current knowledge levels, delivery methods, learning environment, and potential constraints.

Design – Trainers would be wise to follow Stephen Covey’s advice: Begin with the end in mind. Flow charts and storyboards are often an effective way to lay out the program from beginning to end. Design is much more than the look and feel of materials. It also includes establishing a delivery method as well as identifying supporting details, such as worksheets, exercises, discussion questions, and assessments. For example, when teaching participants about building rapport, a trainer could elect to show a video, play a recorded call, facilitate role-play, ask participants to share personal opinions, or ask the participants to discuss the topic in small groups.

Development – In the third phase, the program comes to life. Participant and instructor materials are developed, slide decks created, and supporting materials prepared, including any necessary videos, worksheets, assessments, and surveys.

Implementation – With the program now developed, the next step is introducing it to staff. However, effective trainers know that it is always a good idea to pilot the program prior to a formal launch. This allows trainers to identify any last minute areas of improvement and to ensure that the program flows smoothly from beginning to end.

Evaluation – Less experienced trainers often believe that post-training surveys are good enough for evaluating a class; however, effectively evaluating a program goes beyond simply asking participants to rate the program on a scale of 1 to 10. Holistic evaluation includes not only a participant’s reaction, but also his or her ability to retain and implement new knowledge and skills. A trainer should then evaluate whether or not implementation of the new knowledge and skills had a meaningful impact on the business. In other words, the participants liked the class. You tested them and they passed. You listened to calls and they are applying the new techniques. But, did those techniques produce the intended results?

Forward-thinking collection agencies use systematic approaches for account management, recruiting and hiring, and even sales and marketing efforts. Training should be no exception. The ADDIE model can help make certain that training programs have proper focus, proper design, and that they are able to achieve their intended results.

Gary Jensen is the founder and chief learning officer of Skills World, and editor of collector mentor. He has 12 years of credit and collection industry experience and specializes in employee training and development and talent management strategies. Previously, Gary has worked for companies ranging from “mom and pop” to Fortune 100. His collection experience includes time spent in both first and third party environments collecting credit cards, utilities, medical accounts, student loans, and mortgages. He is a former ACA Certified Instructor and National Director, and also served on ACA’s esteemed Education Council and Creditors International committee.

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