You can greatly improve the chances of successfully implementing a new upskilling program through careful planning, precise execution, and clear communication. The UpSkill America Leadership Team has identified these 10 advance planning steps to help you get started:
1. Establish program goals for your company and for your employees.
- What goals should this program achieve for our company?
- What goals should this program achieve for our employees?
2. Prepare others well in advance of rolling out the program.
Prepare your managers for the program.
- What do your managers need to know about the program?
- What are managers responsible for communicating about the program to employees?
- What benefits do we expect the program to bring to managers and the company?
- What challenges might the program present for managers?
- What is a manager’s role in the program?
- What will be expected of managers in the program?
- How will we measure managers’ program performance?
- How will we reward managers’ program performance?
Prepare employees for the program.
- What do our employees need to know about the program?
- Who is responsible for communicating about the program with our employees?
- What benefits do we expect the program to bring to employees and our company?
- What challenges might the program present for employees?
- What is an employee’s role in the program?
- What will be expected of employees in the program?
- How will we measure employees’ program performance?
- How will we reward employees’ program performance?
Prepare partners for the program
- Who is the single point of contact within our company for our program partners?
- What is the role of each of our program partners?
- Are our partners prepared to answer questions about the program?
- Where do our partners refer those with questions about the programs they can’t answer?
3. Prepare systems for the program.
Prepare IT systems for the program.
- Does our information system collect or can it be adapted to collect the necessary data we need to learn about participation, progress, and outcomes of the program?
- Who needs access to program data?
- Who is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and reporting program data findings?
- What is the process for reporting the data and to whom does the report go?
- How are the data to be used?
Prepare your enrollment or application processes for the program.
- How can we use regular business processes such as open enrollment periods or performance reviews to discuss and promote upskilling programs?
- What is our enrollment or application process for the program?
- What is our acceptance and approval process for the program?
- What support will be available to those who enroll in or apply to the program?
- How will we reward or recognize program participants?
4. Collect program data from the beginning.
- What program progress and outcomes data are available? Who has access to these data?
- Under what conditions can they share data with my company, and in what form?
- Should we begin collecting new participant characteristics, progress, or outcomes data elements?
- Which types of program progress and outcome data are important to monitor?
- Which types of program progress and outcome data are important to share, and with whom?
- Over what period of time should program progress and outcomes data be compared or benchmarked, and against what?
5. Develop a utilization plan for your program.
- How many employees would we like to participate in the program?
- Is there a target audience for the program?
- What would incentivize employees to use the program?
- What might prevent employees from using the program?
- If program uptake is low, how can we increase participation?
6. Market the program to your employees extensively.
- Who is responsible for marketing the program to our employees?
- From where do our employees get their information about the program?
- When are employees most likely to be interested in learning about the program?
- Who are some of the best messengers of program information?
- What routine information exchanges does our company offer through which program information could be shared (e.g., company announcements, staff meetings, performance reviews)?
- Can we market our program in connection with paychecks or pay stubs to emphasize opportunities for advancement and increased pay?
7. Regularly assess which program elements are working and which need improvement.
Establish a program feedback process.
- What program feedback mechanisms will we have in place?
- Who is responsible for monitoring and evaluating program feedback?
- Who should be on the team to improve program elements that aren’t working well?
Establish program evaluation and improvement processes.
- How will we evaluate the effectiveness of the program, and what are the key learning questions we want to be able to inform through evaluation?
- Whose input about the program is important to collect?
- How will we collect this program input?
- Who is responsible for evaluating the program input gathered?
8. Measure program success for the company and employees.
- What are the indicators of success for the program?
- Are these indicators demonstrating program improvement?
- Are there outside factors that could be inflating or dampening these program success indicators?
- What additional actions could we take to boost the program’s performance?
9. Reward employees for incremental progress in and completion of the program.
- What indicates significant incremental progress in the program?
- How do we reward employee who make incremental progress toward their learning goals?
- How do we reward the manager who supports these employees?
- How do we define program completion?
- How do we reward employees for completing the program?
- How do we link program completion with advancement?
- How do we reward the manager for supporting the employee who has completed the program?
- How do we support managers who are so good at developing staff that they lose staff to promotion?
- How do we bring recognition to all involved in the program?
10. Assess internal capabilities to ensure your program success.
- Is there knowledge or are there skills important to the program we don’t have in house?
- Are there outside subject matter experts who can fill this void for the program?
- If we run this program internally, will it enhance our work or distract us from other important work?