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3 Types of Training

I often find that training teams lack awareness of the various types of workplace training. Being familiar with these basic types helps teams focus and more easily land on the structure of the curriculum, especially when I point out that there are really only three types of training that they need to address— new job training, developmental opportunities, and transitional training.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that if they don’t address all three types, their curriculum will have holes in it and will likely fall short of meeting the learning objectives. 

New job training can be broken into two categories if necessary: onboarding and, job knowledge. Both of these must be covered to ensure a good fit and make sure employees get up to speed quickly. Whether it’s a completely new company, or just a new role, the trainee must be oriented to the policies, procedures, and culture they will be stepping into. Likewise, they will need to have the basic skills to do the job. For example, an employee promoted into management must know key policies (such as how to conduct performance reviews), procedures (how to enter employee hours into the system), and culture (how birthdays are celebrated or what’s OK to wear on casual Fridays). They will also have to know skills, such as creating and communicating a vision or coaching. This type of training can take place both in the classroom (including computer-based) and on-the-job. New job training should focus on orientation to the job and actual job skills. 

Once an employee is acclimated to their role, they should not be allowed to remain static. For the company to continuously improve, every employee should be focused on or directed to ongoing developmental opportunities. These should focus on improving existing skills, such as coaching, delegating, and communication, as well as broader topics, like how the company operates or understanding the competitive marketplace. There should be a wide array of offerings here so that the opportunities selected can be tailored to the needs of the specific individual. It should be pointed out that these don’t all have to be training opportunities; they can include activities such as experiential learning, job-shadowing, and cross-functional utilization. These developmental opportunities can also be available for employees who are underperforming in specific skill areas. In this case, some of the opportunities might include selected courses from new job training. The primary purpose of ongoing developmental opportunities should be to help the trainee perform better in their current role.


The third type of training is transitional training. This is training that will assist high performers or ambitious individuals with gaining the knowledge they will need to reach the next level. For managers, these more advanced topics could include creating and implementing strategy, advanced facilitation techniques, and managing large budgets. This type of training doesn’t have to be restricted to standard training techniques, but might include taking an interim role, mentoring others, and taking on added responsibilities. In a circular twist, some of this training might also include some new job training if it is for a job at the next level up. Transitional training is designed to move a person to the next level. 

So, there you have it—only three types of training. Once you have the basic framework, it’s easier to determine and create a “hire-to-retire” curriculum for your employees. The key is to understand which type of training is needed at each turn.
© 2017 ATD, Alexandria, VA. All rights reserved.

About the Author
David has more than two decades of experience as a training leader, instructional designer, facilitator, e-learning designer, and project manager with world-class companies including Disney, Merck, and Assurant. He is an experienced consultant to senior leadership with deep experience in learning strategy, curriculum development, corporate cultural transformation, leadership and executive development, and team alignment. Adelman's experience includes creating comprehensive, branded, measurable training processes for organizations that are integrated with the talent management process, address performance gaps, and minimize costs while maximizing return on investment. He is currently a relationship manager with TrainingPros, president of Adelman Training Solutions, and a director of community relations with Atlanta ATD. 
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