A four-step guide to planning your training, learning and development

Planning your training, learning and development is a crucial decision that could have extensive benefits for your organisation. It is not a process that should be taken lightly, but there are steps you can follow to make the process easier.

1 Training needs analysis (TNA)

Experienced training or learning and development (L&D) managers will tend to follow a pattern when organising the delivery of training and development. This will involve indentifying and understanding the needs of the employer and the business as far as the skills and knowledge development of staff is concerned.

The training or L&D team must consult senior management and line managers as to what the employer/business sees as its training and development needs in a defined period – usually the following year, either calendar or financial. This should be assessed and matched against individual and team and unit training and development needs.

Data for this is best acquired through a variety of sources:

  • Discussions with line managers.
  • Analysis of individual employees’ skills and learning needs as identified in a structured and regular assessment process, usually a personal development programme.
  • Surveys of line managers and selected employees to gather their views on training and L&D issues and needs.
  • Meetings with their learning representatives from the organisation’s recognised trade unions.

Once this detail is gathered, the training or L&D manager should produce a TNA – in theory for the organisation as a whole, for each department and each employee, or for a particular function. In practice though, this may be too onerous and the TNA may well be a detailed overview by department and function, with line managers deciding on what individual employees need.

Jack Markiewicz, director of HR, change and talent management at Swindon Borough Council and lead on talent management at the Public Sector People Managers’ Association, says: “Effective TNA is based upon a clear understanding of what the organisation is trying to achieve, as well as the current skills and competencies of staff and the essential ones to meet the needs of the organisation.”


2 Designing, planning and costing training programmes

Typically, training or L&D managers will plan programmes for a given period – for example, six months or a year – and will also have to organise events or interventions on an ad hoc basis. Budgets are absolutely key to this process.

Managers should be given a preliminary budget figure some time ahead of the start of their planned programmes – three months is ideal, two months manageable, one month challenging. It’s advisable to set some of the budget aside to cover the cost of ad hoc training demands.

Often next year’s training budget will be similar to the current, depending on how well the business is faring. If a training manager is asked to give a budget projection one useful rule of thumb is to calculate spend per employee – CIPD figures indicate this will, on average, range from £220 to £300 a year.


3 Prepare an outline and a reasonably detailed and costed training programme

Prior to implementing a programme, draw up a detailed plan of what it will involve and what the outcomes will be. The content should be justified and aims and objectives given. As well as helping to address development needs on an individual and group level, the programme must also help to deliver overall business and organisational objectives.

By presenting this plan to relevant internal stakeholders for comment and approval, this ensures overall buy-in and presents an advance opportunity for the programme to gain exposure prior to its introduction.


4 Amend programmes as necessary and align to agreed budget

Seek feedback from senior managers and line managers about any programme you intend to implement. They will be able to identify whether the programme is appropriate for the needs of your organisation, and this will allow you to amend your solution as appropriate for the best results.

As well as seeking input prior to a programme, liaise with these managers during and afterwards, as they will also be able to make observations on the ongoing effectiveness and results. This process enables you to be flexible and make changes where necessary, as well as allowing you to increase and decrease the scale and scope of training in accordance with needs and available budget.



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