Thrive As an Instructional Designer

The field of training and development isn't necessarily an easy industry. Often times you find yourself explaining what you do than having the luxury of just starting your job with colleagues who understand what instructional design entails. Most companies want training; but have no idea what they really need. They understand there is a need, an opportunity to improve performance gaps; but they can't specifically gage what that requires. This is where the Instructional Designer comes into play.


  1. As an Instructional Designer in a new workplace, first assess the training needs; so often this step is skipped and you will find yourself having to redesign your materials because it did not meet your audience needs.
    • Assess the organization's goal
    • Assess the demographics of the audience
    • Assess the audience background knowledge via pre-test


  • After the needs assessment, make sure you have the buy-in from leaders within the organization so that you can start assigning your subject matter experts (SMEs) to your development plan. You will need willing SMEs to develop a successful training program. Your SMEs will assist you in gathering the information/content needed for the training. It is important to get a buy-in from leaders so that you can avoid resistance from your SMEs in participating with you to get the job done. The downside of creating training materials is that your dependencies are your SMEs and you have to remember that you are borrowing them from their full time jobs.
  • Remember to build quality relationships with your SMEs in the workplace. This will make your job much easier and open doors for other partnerships in the organization. The more you go out of your way in clearly defining your needs and clarifying what is in it for them, the easier your job will become!


  • By all means, don't present yourself as a 'know-it-all'. You will get resentment and resistance very quickly. No one wants to be told that they have been doing their jobs wrong. Go in with a willingness to listen and learn first; that's what a good assessment is all about.