Zen and the Art of Training Plan Maintenance


Ever planned to run a 1ok mini-marathon?

Good intentions, right? One part says Yes. Another says… No.

There’s always that little voice in your head going, “Can’t we do it later? Just a little while? Pur-lease!”

For me, I like the idea of training, but making the actual effort can be different.

Corporate training is no different.

Both require planning, commitment, and a dash of enthusiasm.

This brings us to training plan. Why exactly do we need them?

I can think of three different reasons… how about you? Four? Five?

You might think, ‘But isn’t it obvious that employees need to be trained?’

Yes, but…

  • How do you know how much training to give them?
  • How do you test them afterwards to check that they remember what you’ve taught them?

The paradox about training plans is that while everyone agrees that we need them, getting the necessary funds can be tricky.

Couldn’t the money be spent somewhere else?

This creates a dilemma for training managers:

  • How much training does an employee need?
  • Do they need part or the entire course? Who decides?
  • What do they need to improve on?
  • Where have they been under performing? Where are the stats that show this?
  • Is there a new product coming out that they need to use correctly?
  • What if it’s an ISO requirement? Do we treat the scores, data, and records differently?
  • How to check that they’ve remembered what you taught them, for example, two months later?

After all, if they’ve forgotten what you’ve trained them a week later, something’s wrong.

For that reason, we’re going to take a different angle with this tutorial.

Instead of looking at the training plan in isolation, we’ll look at what you need to do before you create the curriculum, and, once the training is over, how to check that your students remember what you’ve taught them.


Start with the big picture

You know when someone says, ‘Give me the big picture first.’

Well, that’s what we need to do.

The big picture helps justify the training plan.


Training should be strategic, not reactive or simply because of ISO compliance.

The big picture explains why we need training now.

After all, the purpose of training is to give you an edge. Make staff more productive, creative, and feel motivated.

If not, why are we training them?

If your staff don’t remember what you’ve taught them, are not more productive, or fail ISO audits, then we need to revise the training plan.

So, before someone asks you for the big picture, write a few lines that places your training plan in context.

Identify the business benefits:

  • How will it make money
  • How will save money

There are three parts involved.

  • The training system
  • Its purpose, and
  • Its users.


For me, training is about teaching. It’s more than handing out PowerPoint slides.

The best trainers are teachers.

They give people confidence, provide direction, and help them understand.

From that angle, training isn’t assembly line work.

Our job, as trainers, is to help others ‘remember’ why the want to learn.

For example, using the ‘Socratic method’ is one of the best ways to help others remember what they’ve forgotten, even if the subject matter is new.

To do this, we need to know both:

  • Our purpose as teachers and
  • Their purpose as students

In the next tutorial, we look at make your training plan more strategic.

Instead of creating a training plan simply to fill in a check box, let’s see how we use it to give us an advantage, an edge over competitors.