A Practical Guide to Creating a Change Management Plan (Part 4 – Building the Training Strategy)

This is the fourth post in my series about managing change in large organizations. You can read my first 3 posts here:
1. A Practical Guide to Creating a Change Management Plan
2. Part 2 – Building the Engagement Strategy
3. Part 3 – Building the Communication Strategy

As mentioned in my previous posts, a typical change management strategy consists of 5 tracks: (1) Engagement, (2) Communication, (3) Training, (4) Coaching and (5) Transition Management (including resistance management). This post focuses on the third track: Training.

You may find it useful to read my initial post in this series – A Practical Guide to Creating a Change Management Plan. This is where I explain the importance of understanding the characteristics and reasons for the change prior to developing other strategy areas such as training. From my point of view, the tasks that are captured in my initial post are the pre-requisites to developing the training strategy.

Below are the steps I follow to formulate a training strategy:

Step 1. Identify the solution characteristics that can be addressed by training
Obviously, not all of the solution characteristics will be addressed by training. For instance, many change initiatives these days have their challenges/ opportunities addressed by the technology itself, such as automating certain components of a manual process. Of course, not all problems can be alleviated strictly by the implementation of new technology. I find that in most cases, technology upgrades introduce more change to the workforce than initially expected.

Identifying the solution characteristics that can be addressed by training can be as simple as using a 2-column table. The first column identifies the solution requirements that will be covered by training. The second column captures the solution requirements that will be addressed by other areas such as transition management.

Solution Characteristics Addressed by Training
In-Scope Out-of-Scope
Train users to create manual invoices in new application Train management to create their own custom reports (this will be covered in a future project release)
Train 1st level support group to triage customer calls to appropriate department

For me, transition management has to do with the journey the organization takes in adopting a new solution. Training, on the other hand, looks after the hands-on abilities required to support the new solution, such as learning a new system.

Step 2. Identify new or existing tasks that will be modified to support the solution
This step identifies new tasks (or existing tasks that need to be modified) to support the proposed change. This exercise not only looks at the set of tasks that is performed with the current solution but also the new sets of tasks that will need to be implemented for the new solution to succeed.

For this exercise, I like to conduct several interviews with the impacted audiences. I like to work with impacted stakeholders to understand the changes they are about to receive. For example, the task of capturing client information and the number of products purchased by a client may need to be altered to meet the goal of improving customer service. Such tasks need to be identified in order to train the impacted employees for success.

Please note that this is not a one-time activity as new stakeholders and new tasks/ processes will be uncovered as we work through the solution with the organization.

Step 3. Assign the identified tasks to organizational roles
At this point, the set of tasks that are included in the training sessions can be grouped or linked to roles within the organization. It is here that existing roles will be modified (or new roles created) to support the new solution.

Step 4. Map the employees to the impacted organizational roles
Once the roles have been identified, organizational employees can be identified and linked to the roles. This creates the initial training roster list for the upcoming training sessions.

Step 5. Anticipate challenges and opportunities for training
During this step, I take the time to anticipate some of the challenges and opportunities for training. For example, I look at the availability of training equipment within the company. Do they have dedicated training rooms or will I be required to book meeting rooms for training purposes? Will projectors be available for these training sessions?

Although not recommended, there may also be the added challenge of training organizational employees during the summer months. There may be a need to work around employee vacation schedules. Because training is most effective close the Go Live date of a proposed changed, it is a good idea to forecast the number of employees and groups of employees that need to attend training prior to Go Live. Training employees too early or too late may impact the success rate of the change initiative. Preferably, I attempt to train organizational employees as close to the Go Live date as possible.

Step 6. Identify the approach to measure the effectiveness of training
Although often overlooked, this is an important step. I work with the organization to identify the measurements to evaluate the effectiveness training. I usually start off with a straw man document and modify it to cater to the organization’s evaluation preference. You can have a look at my straw man document here.

I won’t get into this in detail, but I like referencing Kirkpatrick’s four levels of training evaluation (reaction, learning, behaviour and results) to measure the effectiveness of my training package. I’ve always believed that measuring performance increases the potential of desired outcomes.

So there is my training strategy in a nutshell. The training design, deliverables and logistics can be created with the training strategy in mind. A future post will discuss these areas in detail.

Posts related to this series – Change Strategy:
1. A Practical Guide to Creating a Change Management Plan
2. Part 2 – Building the Engagement Strategy
3. Part 3 – Building the Communication Strategy
4. Part 4 – Building the Training Strategy
5. Part 5 – Building the Coaching Strategy
6. Part 6 – Building the Transition Strategy

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