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If you want to enhance your employees’ time management skills, the process is simple: send them to the training provider that offers the best value for a generic course. Hundreds of providers do a good job at conveying well-tested information. But what if you want to teach your employees about a new policy, process, or system that is unique to your organization? You’re going to have to create your own, customized training program, and do so in fairly short order. How can you increase the likelihood that your training will resonate with your audience? Require collaboration between an instructional designer and a subject matter expert (SME).

The instructional designer and the SME are like an archer and bow. Both need to work in harmony with each other to shoot the arrow into the bullseye. The SME knows what to say; the instructional designer knows how to say it. The instructional designer understands how adults learn; the SME understands how the organization’s employees tend to feel and think. An iterative review cycle helps make sure that the training is properly aligned to hit the mark.

The challenge is that often SMEs do not understand how to review training properly. They focus on grammatical issues or major content gaps. If you are serving as a SME, the following questions can help you review more effectively:

  1. Does the content follow a logical flow?
  2. Is the content complete and accurate?
  3. Is the content too detailed for a new user?
  4. Which content is absolutely necessary and which is nice to know?
  5. Are the activities and explanations too easy/difficult for the audience?
  6. How could the activities and explanations be changed to be more appropriate for the educational level?
  7. Given the organizational culture and history, are any of the words, phrases, or directions likely to upset the target audience?
  8. Are the activities and tone appropriate for the organizational culture?
  9. Do the messages that leadership wishes to convey come across clearly and appropriately?
  10. Are the examples realistic, appropriate, and simple enough to convey the concepts?

Providing detailed answers to these questions can help the instructional designer fine-tune the training and help your organization deliver a message that hits the mark dead-on.