Training Delivery Methods

A very important step in the training process is to create a training framework that will help guide the training program. Information on how to use the framework is included in this section.

Training Program Development Framework

When developing a training plan, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. Training is a process that should be planned and developed in advance.

The framework for developing a training program are as follows:

  1. Needs assessment and learning objectives. Articulating specific and measurable learning objectives will in turn guide you in determining the learnings required – and specific areas for training.
  2. Learning Strategies. Determine the right learning strategies best suited to the learning styles of your employee audience to ensure the training is successful.
  3. Delivery mode. What is the best way to get your message across? Is web-based training more appropriate, or should mentoring be used? Can simulation training be used for a portion of the training while job shadowing be used for another part of the training? Most training programs will include a variety of delivery methods.
  4. Budget. How much money do you have to spend on this training?
  5. Content. What needs to be taught? How will you organize and sequence the information and course materials?
  6. Timelines. How much time is required for the training – is it one-time only, are there multiple segments, is it repeated annually (eg. safety training)? Is there a deadline for training to be completed?

Needs Assessment

The first step in developing a training program is to determine exactly what the organization needs in terms of training. There are three levels of training needs assessment: organizational assessment, occupational (task) assessment, and individual assessment

  1. Organizational assessment. In this type of needs assessment, we can determine the skills, knowledge, and abilities a company needs to meet its strategic objectives. This type of assessment considers things such as changing demographics and technological trends, and is forward-looking. To perform an organizational assessment, one can look at future trends and the overall company’s strategic plan. HR managers can also see how jobs and industries are changing. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the use of technology much more important for educational institutions. It is likely that many of the technological tools that schools now rely on will remain, and as a whole, schools must take a closer look at exactly how technology will affect teaching in the future. Overall, this type of assessment looks at the types of KSA’s that will be needed for the success of the organizations and whether training can help in developing them.
  2. Occupational (task) assessment. This type of assessment looks at the specific tasks, skills knowledge, and abilities required to do the different jobs within the organization. Data for this step can come from a review of performance evaluations that can uncover a pattern where employees in specific jobs are not meeting expectations. As a result, this may provide data as to where your training is lacking. In the example of schools and teaching, the impact of new technology may be the greatest for the teaching staff and less so for the support staff.
  3. Individual assessment. An individual assessment looks at the performance of an individual employee and determines what training should be provided for that individual. Continuing with the example of teaching, the analysis would focus on the individual teachers and their level of comfort with the new technology. As a result of this analysis, it may be decided that only teachers with technological fluency below a certain level need to be trained.

Learning Objectives

After you have determined what type of training should occur, learning objectives for the training should be set. A learning objective is what you want the learner to be able to do, explain, or demonstrate at the end of the training period. Good learning objectives are performance-based and clear, and the result of the learning objective can be observable or measured in some way. Examples of learning objectives might include the following:

  1. Be able to explain the company policy on sexual harassment and give examples of sexual harassment.
  2. Be able to show the proper way to take a customer’s order.
  3. Perform a variety of customer needs analyses using company software.
  4. Understand and utilize the new expense-tracking software.
  5. Explain the safety procedure in handling chemicals.
  6. Be able to explain the types of communication styles and strategies to effectively deal with each style.
  7. Demonstrate ethics when handling customer complaints.
  8. Be able to effectively delegate to employees.

Once we have set our learning objectives, we can utilize information on learning styles to then determine the best delivery mode for our training.

Learning Strategies or the Psychology of Learning

Learning styles refer to individual preferences in how people learn new material. The concept of learning styles has gained much popularity in training circles and a whole industry has been built around this concept. Unfortunately, the research evidence supporting the concept is very weak (Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, & Bjork, 2008). However, this is not to say that psychological principles do not play a role in the effectiveness of training. Learning strategies refer to techniques that have been proven to facilitate learning and increase the effectiveness of training programs. These strategies are based on known psychological processes to enhance the retention of learned material.

  • Retrieval Practice, or practice testing, is a form of low-stakes or no-stakes quizzing that attempts to force retrieval of material from one’s memory.
  • Distributed Practice, or spaced practice, refers to distributing the practice of material over time. This spacing of practice aids in the retention of material much better than cramming. The amount of spacing depends on the complexity of the task and can range from hours to months.
  • Interleaved Practice involves shifting the focus of one’s studies among differing topics. This is in contrast to studying and practicing all of one topic before moving on to the next topic of study. While this does make studying more difficult, studies have shown far greater retention of material on summative evaluations with the interleaving of material.

Delivery Mode

Depending on the type of training that needs to be delivered, you will likely choose a different method to deliver the training. An orientation might lend itself best to vestibule training, while sexual harassment training may be better for web-based training. When choosing a delivery mode, it is important to consider learning objectives, the audience, and any budget constraints.

On-the-Job Coaching

On-the-job coaching on the computer

On-the-job coaching is one way to facilitate employee skills training. On-the-job coaching refers to an approved person training another employee on the skills necessary to complete tasks. A manager or someone with experience shows the employee how to perform the actual job. The selection of an on-the-job coach can be done in a variety of ways, but usually, the coach is selected based on personality, skills, and knowledge. This type of skill training is normally facilitated in-house. The disadvantage of this training is that success revolves around the person delivering the training. If he or she is not a good communicator, the training may not work.


Mentoring is a type of training delivery that has gained popularity in organizations. A mentor is a trusted, experienced advisor who has direct interest or investment in the development of an employee. Mentoring is a process by which an employee is coached, supported, and developed by an experienced person. Normally, mentoring is used as a ongoing method to train and develop an employee. While mentoring may occur informally, a formal mentorship program can help ensure the new employee not only feels welcome, but is paired up with someone who already knows the ropes and can help guide them through any on-the-job challenges. Formal mentorship programs are common practice in most mid-size to large organization providing a very structured framework. Typically, the mentor and mentee relationship is established when an employee demonstrates high performance and high potential. For example, Mila is a research institute in artificial intelligence which rallies 500 researchers specializing in the field of deep learning. Based in Montreal, Mila’s mission is to become a global pole for scientific advances in Artificial Intelligence. Recently, Mila launched a mentoring program for its researchers. The program, which unfolds over nine-months, aims to help researchers achieve their personal and professional development objectives. The program used very clear criteria for mentors and mentees and a very detailed schedule with mandatory monthly meetings to ensure its success.


Web-based training delivery has several labels: e-learning, Internet-based, computer-based, or technology-based learning. Regardless of the terminology used, any web-based training involves the use of technology to facilitate training. There are two types of web-based learning. First, synchronous learning uses instructor-led facilitation. Asynchronous learning is self-directed, and no instructor facilitating the course. There are several advantages to web-based training. First, it is available on-demand, does not require travel, and can be cost-efficient. However, disadvantages might include an impersonal aspect to the training and limited bandwidth or technology capabilities1.

Web-based training delivery lends itself well to certain training topics. For example, this might be an appropriate delivery method for safety training, technical training, quality training, and professional training. However, for some training, such as soft-skills training, job skills training, managerial training, and team training, more personalized methods may be better for delivery. However, there are many different platforms that lend themselves to an interactive approach to training, such as Sun Microsystems’ Social Learning eXchange (SLX) training system, which has real-time video and recording capabilities. Hundreds of platforms are available to facilitate web-based training. Some companies use SharePoint, an intranet platform, to store training videos and materials (Microsoft SharePoint, 2010). Moodle, Blackboard and Angel (used primarily by higher education institutions) allows human resources managers to create training modules, which can be moderated by a facilitator or managed in a self-paced format.

In terms of web-based delivery, advances in virtual reality have the potential to transform how training is done. Virtual reality allows the training to take place in a simulated environment, reducing costs, and in some cases, reducing the risks associated with learning on the job. Here are two great examples of how virtual reality is used to support training.

This training was designed by a hospital to train emergency room doctors for pediatric emergencies:


Here is another VR training solution designed for Airports’ Ground Operators:

Job Shadowing

Job shadowing is a training delivery method that places an employee who already has the skills with another employee who wants to develop those skills. Apprenticeships use job shadowing as one type of training method. For example, an apprentice electrician would shadow and watch the journeyman electrician perform the skills and tasks and learn by watching. Eventually, the apprentice would be able to learn the skills to do the job alone. The downside to this type of training is the possibility that the person job shadowing may learn “bad habits” or shortcuts to perform tasks that may not be beneficial to the organization.

Fortune 500 Focus

It takes a lot of training for the Walt Disney Company to produce the best Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Aladdin, or Peter Pan. In Orlando at Disney World, most of this training takes place at Disney University. Disney University provides training to its 42,000 cast members (this is what Disney calls employees) in areas such as culinary arts, computer applications, and specific job components. Once hired, all cast members go through a two-day Disney training program called Traditions, where they learn the basics of being a good cast member and the history of the company. For all practical purposes, Traditions is Disney’s employee orientation program.

However, training does not stop at orientation for Disney. All positions receive extensive training but the most extensive training is reserved for Disney characters since their presence at the theme parks is a major part of the customer experience. To become a character cast member, a character performer audition is required. The auditions require dancing and acting, and once hired, the individual is given the job of several characters to play. After a two-week intensive training process on character history, personalities, and the ability to sign the names of the characters (for the autograph books sold at the parks for kids), an exam is given. The exam tests competency in character understanding, and passing the exam is required to be  hired (Hill, 2005).

While Disney University trains people for specific positions, it also offers an array of continuing development courses called Disney Development Connection. In 2010 Disney said, more than 3,254,596 hours were spent training a variety of employees2, from characters to management. The training does not stop at in-house training. Disney offers tuition reimbursement up to $700 per credit and pays for 100 percent of books and $100 per course for cost of other materials. In 2010, Disney paid over $8 million in tuition expenses for cast members2.

Disney consistently ranks in “America’s Most Admired Companies” by Fortune Magazine, and its excellent training could be one of the many reasons.


Training programs can be very expensive and HR managers are often required to have a detailed budget before implementing them. According to the 2017 State of the Industry report from the Association for Talent Development, organizations spend an average of $1,273 per employee for direct learning expenditures. If we extrapolate this figure for a large company like CAE, which is headquartered in Montreal (10,000 employees), you get an approximate training budget of $13 million! Thus, tight budgeting is important for organizations to obtain the maximum value from their investment in training. Budgeting for training programs should include direct costs such as travel, trainers’/programmers’ fee, training material, and catering. It should also consider the time of employees. If employees are in training for two hours, the cost to the organization of them not performing their job is an indirect cost of training.

Content Development

The content that HR managers want to deliver is perhaps one of the most important parts of training and one of the most time-consuming to develop. Development of learning objectives and content development go hand-in-hand. The things you want your learners to know after the training makes for more focused training. Think of learning objectives as goals—what should someone know after completing this training? Here are some samples of learning objectives:

  1. Be able to define and explain the handling of hazardous materials in the workplace.
  2. Be able to utilize the team decision process model.
  3. Understand the definition of sexual harassment and be able to recognize sexual harassment in the workplace.
  4. Understand and be able to explain the company policies and structure.

After the objectives and goals have been developed, HR managers can begin to develop the content of the training. Consideration of the learning methods you will use, such as discussion and role-playing, will be outlined in the content area.


For some types of training, timelines may be required to ensure the training is completed within a specified period of time. This is often the case for safety training. In other words, in what time frame should an employee complete the training?

Another consideration regarding timelines is how much time you think you need to complete the training. Perhaps one hour will be enough, but sometimes, training may take a day or even a week – it may also have to be repeated annually with refreshed content, eg. safety regulations. After you have developed your training content, you will likely have a better idea as to how long it will take to deliver. The time demands of any training must be integrated with the employee(s) work schedule to ensure the least amount of disruption to production and job demands.

From a long-term approach, it may not be cost-effective to offer an orientation each time someone new is hired. One consideration might be to offer orientation training once per month so that all employees hired within that month are trained at the same time. Developing a standard training schedule allows for better better planning and scheduling for employees and managers.

Communicating Training Opportunities

Communication. Many companies have email distribution lists that can relay the message to only certain groups of employees who require training. Communicating training opportunities through email, supervisors, bulletin boards are all important ways to ensure awareness and participation.


2“Oakwood Worldwide Honored by Training Magazine for Fifth Consecutive Year Training also Presents Oakwood with Best Practice Award,” press release, February 25, 2011, Marketwire, accessed February 26, 2011,


Branham, L. (2005). The seven hidden reasons employees leave. New York: AMACOM.

DigitalChalk website, accessed August 12, 2010,

Hill, J., “Blood, Sweat, and Fur,” Jim Hill Media, May 2005, accessed July 30, 2011,

Kirkpatrick, D., Evaluating Training Programs, 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2006).

Macy’s website, accessed July 27, 2010,

Microsoft’s SharePoint website, accessed August 12, 2010,

Sullivan, S. E. and Howard Tu, “Preparing Yourself for an International Assignment,” Bnet, accessed September 15, 2011,

Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9, 105-119.


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Human Resources Management - 2nd Ontario Edition Copyright © 2022 by Elizabeth Cameron is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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