Undertaking training or development through work is an exciting aspect of career progression. It’s about addressing gaps in skills to make you more productive at work, or learning new skills that could take you even further. However, with funding under pressure, how can employees and businesses alike ensure they are squeezing every last drop of value from the training they take?

These are our top five tips:

Pick training carefully

Time spent identifying the skill gaps an employee has and then researching the very best course is time well spent. The most effective training is targeted, planned and properly prepared which means waving goodbye to the sheep-dip approach.

While sending all employees on a certain training course may be useful in some circumstances, for example when everyone needs to learn how to use a new system, in most cases, it’s a waste of resources. By identifying key areas of development in employees and matching that up with training, you’re setting the foundations for a much more valuable investment.

Create a roadmap

Having identified the ideal training course, it’s time to work out the business objectives. Training that is closely aligned with business goals is more likely to be successful as it secures the senior level buy-in that paves the way for the necessary time and resources.

From a business perspective, value can only be measured if it is clear in advance what it will be measured against. Having these conversations and identifying Key Performance Indicators before the training will provide you with the tools you need to prove whether or not it has been successful. And, in the event that it is not, understand why.

Preparation, preparation, preparation

Being in the right frame of mind is essential in order for a delegate to the most out of a course. This means doing the pre-training work, if there is any, and making sure you are prepared to learn.

Delegates need to be free from the stresses of their day job. They should be focused on the course and able to fully immerse themselves in the training in order for the learning to stick.

Practice makes perfect

Lessons will only make a difference in the wider business if delegates are able, and allowed the space to put what they have learned into practice. Having identified the business objectives before the training, now is the time to free up time and resources to ensure there is the space to implement change.

Too often delegates return back to work and jump straight back to what they were doing before – before long the lessons are forgotten and the training was wasted. Strike while the iron is hot and apply the learning from day one.

Getting the measure of it

“Measure before and measure afterwards so you can get the hard numbers,” says John.

This step is often missed out, and although training can be valuable without this stage, there is no way to prove it. Consider this stage the final chapter in the training book – you may know the basics and enjoy the ride but you’ll never know how it ends if you put it down to early. Measure the new Key Performance Indicators against those gathered during the roadmap stage and you should see the impact training has had.

By collecting data and measuring along the way, you’re also leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to illustrate where something may have gone wrong if you don’t get the numbers you wanted.

What are your top tips for getting the most out of training?