Part 2 Aligning learning to business needs – Before, During and After Model

by | Jun 20, 2008 | Articles

In the last article Setting a Strategy for Learning and Development, we explored the benefits of your organisation having a proper Learning and Development Strategy. 

The Before, During and After model provides a useful approach to analyse activites that influence how the business’s perception of learning. It is designed  to help  at both the strategic and tactical level.

Where’s your effort being expended?

Often, as Training Managers, we spend a great deal of time and effort in designing and delivering the learning intervention, ensuring the learners’ experience is inclusive and engaging.  If you were to plot your efforts on a graph, it might look a bit like this:

Figure 1

The Before part may consist of some TNA (Training Needs Analysis), the During element is the design and delivery (where most of the effort often tends to go) and the After… well, often there is no after, apart from the Happy Sheet evaluation.

Turning the effort curve upside down!

If training is to be perceived as a value-adding business partner, then you need to turn the effort curve upside down.  You still, of course, need to ensure the learning event well planned and engaging but you need to do much more before and after the learning intervention.

Figure 2

This model works at the strategic and the tactical level.

As explored in the previous article, we need to really investigate and align with the overall business goals and strategies.  This Business Situation Analysis is a key component, ensuring the training becomes aligned to the needs of the business.  The analysis takes a closer look at the complete picture including the business need , the learner context and the work context. Once this is completed, the training needs analysis becomes more focussed and effective.  A Business Situation Analysis  helps to  identify the metrics that really matter to the business and incorporate these into our training objectives and measurement systems.

The Learner and their Manager

The Before stage is also the time to engage with the line manager of the learner.  Line managers may also be part of your strategic analysis and investigation into the key business issues but they are also key in supporting the learner through the learning intervention and, most importantly, afterwards.

Line managers should be engaged in supporting their staff and for providing the appropriate context for the planned learning.  Supporting the learner and reinforcing the expected learning outcomes and performance improvements is critical.  All learners should have the support and encouragement of their line manager.  The days when staff were sent on training, turning up not really knowing why they were there or what was expected of them, should be long gone.

To be truly effective at a tactical level, the Before stage needs to be a true partnership between the training manager, line manager and the learner.

During…it’s still important!

Nobody is suggesting that the actual training intervention is not any less important, it is not.  All your skills as a trainer are essential to ensure the design and deliver of the programme is highly effective.  With the help of the additional Before stage, the During part should be even more effective and focussed on what really matters both for the learner and the business.

After ….beyond the Happy Sheet

I believe this is most critical phase.  It is here where the learning can be put into practice, it is here that we see if the performance improvement is happening and it is here we can measure this against the previously identified metrics.

In the After phase, line managers should be coaching and supporting the learner to apply their learning.  As training manager, you should be following up in the weeks and months after the training intervention, to ensure the learning is being applied in the workplace and, most importantly, if the identified performance improvement is being achieved.  You will also need to step back and look at the overall business performance and not only evaluate the improvement but also look for opportunities for the next phase of development.

Report the success

Investing your effort Before, During and After provides you with the tools and insights to look at the business and the individual’s performance improvements.  Measurement is so much more defined and provides a basis for effective reporting at level 3 and 4 and even 5.  Used correctly, it takes you closer to the business and involves the business leaders in the development and success of their people as well as aligning the training department with the achievement of the overall business goals.

Contact Gordon for more information via the Towards Maturity site

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