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ATD Blog

Ask a Trainer: Training Request Forms

Tuesday, July 13, 2021
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Hey Tim,

I work as the instructional design manager for my company. Recently, my boss asked me to design and implement a training request form for our stakeholders and subject matter experts to use when they have a training need. I created the form, which asks requesters to define the training need, the type of training needed, desired learning objectives, deadlines, and so on.

So far, I must admit the form hasn’t been as successful as we hoped. More often than not, our stakeholders don’t provide any of the information we need. I’m curious to know what we should do differently to get better information from our stakeholders and subject matter experts?


Ah, yes...training request forms. Every company I’ve worked for had its own version of a training request form. And the truth of it is that all of them suffered from the same issues you mentioned!

There’s usually a fundamental disconnect between how learning professionals want our stakeholders to use training request forms versus what our stakeholders believe they’ll receive as a result of filling out a training request form. You see, usually we want our stakeholders to complete a training request form as a means for us to gain context before meeting with them to conduct a needs analysis and discuss potential training solutions. However, in my experience, many stakeholders believe the opposite—they think the training request form is simply a means for them to ask you to start building training. And this is where the conflict and confusion usually start.

The problem with most training request forms is that they require the stakeholder (someone who usually has no background in learning, training, or instructional design) to provide the information on a learning, training, or instructional design need. This would be like going to the doctor’s office only for them to ask you to self-diagnose your illness and provide a recommended course of treatment. And as we all know, it just doesn’t work that way.

So, what should you do instead?

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Well, my answer may surprise you. First, I don’t think you need to stop using a training request form. When you’re engaging with many different stakeholders and subject matter experts, having a well-designed form can help you collect and organize the information coming at you from every direction. However, I think the key is to change what information you’re asking them to provide on a training request form.

Remember, it’s unlikely your stakeholders have any background in learning or instructional design, so it doesn’t make sense to ask them to provide information you mentioned in your question (such as the type of training they need or the desired learning objectives). It’s our job as learning professionals to determine the proper training needs and desired learning objectives.

Instead, ask your stakeholders to provide the information you need to have an informed conversation about the performance issue being experienced and the next steps for a potential needs analysis. This includes why they’re making the request, a description of the performance issue they’re experiencing, or any data they have to quantify the performance issue. Only after you’ve validated the performance issue should you have a conversation about potential training and non-training interventions.

I hope that helps you to rethink how you’re currently using your training request form and what information you’re asking to be provided on it.

Tim

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What other tips do you have for using training request forms? Share them by commenting below.


Do you have a learning question you’d like me to tackle? You can email them to [email protected] Also, make sure to visit the Ask a Trainer Hub to check out all your questions and my answers.


We welcome your comments and engagement on these posts. All posts are reviewed to ensure appropriateness based on ATD’s requirements for postings in our online communities.

Please note: Content shared in this column is provided by the author and may not reflect the perspectives of ATD.

About the Author

Tim Slade is a speaker, author, award-winning
e-learning designer, and author of The eLearning
Designer’s Handbook.

5 Comments
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Again, another great analogy! Loved the analogy of "going to the doctor’s office only for them to ask you to self-diagnose your illness and provide a recommended course of treatment"! Doctor's ask about the symptoms, how it affects your everyday routine, what changed recently in your routine, etc. before they recommend surgery (full on training). And if I can make a software development analogy this would be like the requirements gathering/elicitation phase of the Sys. Dev. Life Cycle.
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Loved the feedback. Will share with my team. Thanks!
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Do you have a training request form sample template that you could share? Thanks
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