The GAINER Model

The 6 Stepping Stones to Deliver an Effective Training Program

We all have worked at companies that periodically mandated training for new hires as well as ongoing compliance. There have been formal and, shall we say, “less than formal” training depending on budget constraints or the planning and execution of corporate or collegiate training. Many companies invest significant time, resources and dollars to maintain and elevate skills and capabilities for its workforce. While this is not a commentary on the content we deliver or specific instructional design methodologies, the purpose here is more of an overarching, pragmatic model to build in success to our training initiatives. The GAINER model focused on 6 areas that have to be addressed to ensure program effectiveness. The GAINER Model looks at Goals, Audience, Infrastructure, Next Time Usage, Engagement and Reporting.

What are we trying to accomplish?
If there is simply a requirement to check the boxes, this will not be sufficient. Even when there is a compliance issue to be addressed, there has to be clear, defined goals where the student population understands the value proposition and rallies behind it. Otherwise there will be continual resistance and barriers to the success of the program. Planning for situations when we have students that are at-risk and methods to coach them back on track should in place as part of the program. The goal is to ensure a safe, successful path for all students. Defined objectives should be challenging, but obtainable. Our content should deliver valuable information while meeting these goals.

Who is our student population?
We live in a multicultural, multigenerational workplace. This isn’t anything new, but are we communicating in appropriate language, methods and modalities for our learners? We have a vested interest in the success of our students, but we need to ensure that even the language we use is bias-free, even if it is unintentional. We also need to address the manner in which our students learn (multiple intelligences) and methods for course delivery (Instructor-led, online, mobile, hybrid or blended). We should also have a discussion our programs being translated to account for workplace diversity. Students today are all too familiar with tailored web experiences, this should be a viable option for consideration to include accessibility and Section 508 Guidelines. There is no one perfect adult learning model, we must blend techniques based on our student population. What will work in one workplace environment potentially could be ineffective in another. Analyzing our audience, we will assess our delivery and technology needs as part of a holistic approach to delivering our message.

How are we going to deliver our training?
We live in an extremely mobile society. Even if the workforce student is “captive” that doesn’t mean that they don’t expect training to meet their schedule. Leveraging our current infrastructure, we should build our competency-based training to run on the student’s terms. Whether they are sitting on a desktop, laptop, tablet or other mobile device, we should deliver responsive training that is easy to deploy, integrate with HRIS and other systems and create minimal administration (spelled “cost containment). Relying on existing IT architecture, we can rapidly deploy training assets to our workforce. This compresses the time between identifying the training need and content delivery. This also should run on IT capital already in place.

Next Time Usage:
Are we delivering a consistent, reusable message?
When we develop our training, or seek training that is sources, can be reused or repurposed? We spend precious training dollars and we are always trying to devise new ways to offset future costs. Training products can be rebranded for different subsidiaries of a company, or simply translated for company locations across geographical boundaries as needed. This is not to be confused with a cookie cutter approach to training, but are our courses modular so that that it is easily revised for future needs? We need to transcend the SCORM standards for reusability where it is practical. This also speeds development cycles when there is updated information for future training while minimizing costs. This will improve consistent message delivery.

How do we keep students on the path to success?
There are so many distractions that we never had to deal with before; family issues, business competition, social commitments, etc. We need to seek methods that are not the traditional lecture and take the quiz models. These are stale and success can be elusive. Instituting features such as gamification into the course design could bring better student outcomes. This is not necessarily something new, if you recall “Oregon Trail” and “Where in the World is Carmen Santiago” there was a burst of educational software in the late 20th century that attracted literally millions of students by making learning fun. This resurgence of a not-so-new idea is creeping into corporate learning more and more now as a tool for keeping the student engaged and on task. Any level of interaction that will drive results and feedback should be planned into the course. Engagement starts the moment the student starts the learning and visually appealing design as well as easy to understand objectives create a framework for success. Creating a reward system will draw the student toward the finish line, even if it a certificate of completion, a gamified badge or some other tangible takeaway beyond the content of the material presented.

How do we know how well we have done?
We need to leverage tools (or seek new tools) that provide management reporting on the progress and success rates of our students. This should be integrated into existing systems with minimal effort. We have a large infrastructure in place in most cases, we should lean into the technologies there. Reporting to management on the progress of the training program, and other large data analytics can be put into place. Students like to be successful with the least amount of stress. However, there has to be feedback mechanisms that measure the student’s knowledge of the topic. If there are no assessments, we need to revisit our program so that the students can demonstrate mastery that would qualify and quantify success of the material we present. Reporting will become vital should a compliance issue arise where training could have been documented.

The landscape of training and development is changing faster now than in the past 2 decades and it is an exciting time to embrace new ideas and tools for delivering just in time content. Effective training and development programs are leaning into new styles of delivering timely, relevant content. Proper planning addresses the needs and differing abilities of our training population. The challenge is to present and sell the value proposition effectively, use emerging and legacy techniques to keep the student engaged, steer the at-risk students back on course and report the results. By applying the GAINER model in parallel with existing processes, we seek program effectiveness while containing costs at multiple levels.

To Your Success,
William R. Wheeler

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Hi! I’m Bill Wheeler

Master writer, storyteller and remote workstyle expert, I have worked remotely for over 17 years now. I can honestly say it is absolutely possible to work anywhere, anytime. It is my passion and mission to help others learn new skills and be more fulfilled and productive.

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William R. Wheeler is a business consultant, storyteller, writer and training expert. He has decades of experience with helping individuals and businesses clarifying and reaching their goals. He has written books, courses for colleges, universities and businesses and countless articles. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or through his website at

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