The training cycle is a useful tool for understanding all of the stages that need to be incorporated into an effective training program. The cycle can be broken down into three basic stages: planning, doing and evaluating, but as each stage can be further subdivided, it is not unusual to see cycles depicted with up to five stages. The Investors in People's Continuous Improvement Model shows a similar cycle with ten stages that could be used for developing a training program. However, the basic idea is the same.
The first stage in the cycle is the identification of training needs. Without sufficient consideration of what skills are needed in the workplace and which employees will benefit from undergoing a particular training course, time and money is likely to be wasted. A study by Oxford's Continuing Professional Development Centre found that 50% of training had still not been used in the workplace a year after it was delivered, and was not expected to be used in the future.
Failing to target the right needs can be a costly mistake. Sending employees on irrelevant courses also risks damaging their motivation, as they will begin to see training as unnecessary rather than as a good opportunity.
The second stage is training delivery. It can be divided into several smaller phases, including preparation and design, completion of training, and applying what has been learned in the workplace, or considered as a single stage in the training cycle.
Good planning at this stage can help to boost attendance and encourage trainees to use their new skills when they return. It can also help to alleviate the time and cost constraints identified by 48% and 60%, respectively, of the employers who told the Employer Skills Survey that they would like to be able to offer more training.
The third stage of the cycle is evaluation. Assessing how successful the training has been will be important for planning the future of the training program. It will show which courses and teaching techniques have been most effective at meeting the needs that were identified at the beginning of the cycle.Evaluation can also enable employees to have a say on the relevance and usefulness of the training they have undergone, which can keep them invested in the ongoing training program. The best training options can be offered again to new employees, while those that were unsuccessful or unpopular can be replaced with more suitable choices.
One of the most important features of the cycle is its circular nature. Once the evaluation stage has been completed, the cycle begins again, with a new identification of needs. The model emphasises the importance of seeing training as an ongoing process rather than a one-off fix. Businesses need to keep looking for new needs that can be addressed by training, updating their training programs, and checking that they are working effectively.