L&D Best Practices

Choosing and prioritizing your training objectives

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Setting training objectives

Before you design and create learning programs and produce content tailored to team member’s profiles, you should think about which training challenges you. Then choose specific, achievable goals. When it comes to delivering an effective training program, start by setting goals – your training objectives! Your goals should target staff needs, strategy, interpersonal skills, learning, business goals, company organization, team work — anything. And they may vary from job to job. So how can you decide on the right goals, prioritize them to meet everyone’s expectations, incorporate them into your overall strategy, and measure them with KPIs? The key is to focus on the differences between the types of goals and find how to align them for more impactful training courses.

Training objectives: the main types

Two levels

Before we start, let’s identify the two main types of goals that you should focus on:

Before you can identify your targets and start to design your program, it’s wise to take stock of the full range of challenges you face. To make this approach work, think about objectives that can change depending on how different people look at them. The board, management, HR and L&D, learners will likely have a different take on your training program.

Different goals for different people

When designing your training programs, focus on these three categories:

#1 Results-oriented goals

These are goals that the company expects would be accomplished upon completion of the course or program. Depending on the project, we might talk about ROE (Return On Expectation), ROI (Return On Investment), or both. Examples can include training on how to be more productive, or how to improve performance by cutting out production errors, for example. This shared goal should always be the focus as it’s the key starting point for any successful training program.

#2 Operational goals

These often reflect what HR and L&D think. After all, they’re looking for ways to boost performance for internal backers. The interesting aspect here is how learners can put their new skills into practice at work. Training courses aim to solve teamwork problems, convey information, teach people how to apply current regulations, and so on. Therefore, managers have to include these objectives in their course designs and then encourage and enhance the skills learners have acquired after the course ends.

#3 Learning goals

These are defined by the instructional designer and their team. They describe the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and approaches that learners must master during the course. Sessions are broken up into modules (one for each learning goal), and learner progress is evaluated in a final assessment. Instructional designers build the programs around operational goals to keep the training package consistent. At the end of the course, the instructor should be able to measure the progress learners have made. One way to do this is by leveraging quizzes and surveys.

Looking through a prism

All these goals are for just one training course! Approaching them from different angles can help you set varying and complementary goals. The beauty of instructional design means you can align all of your goals to create a successful training course and keep everyone happy.

Aligning your training objectives for greater success

Once you’ve assessed each party’s needs (HR, managers, and the board), you should align all the goals to create an effective course. These should be tailored to your requirements and context. Now is the time to hone in on the finer points, leaving the macro goals behind and moving to a micro level.

Build on solid ground

Identifying the company’s goal is key to the training plan. Through training, you can implement your company’s strategy and help fulfill its ambitions. “Why would a company want to offer this training course?” This is the critical question you have to think about before you start—and never forget it. Is it, for example, to boost visibility, bolster its leadership, or be more profitable? Once the goal is defined, let it guide you.

Focusing on the specifics

For instance, should a company want to boost its sales objectives by 5% without taking on any staff, it first has to look at new behaviors that the sales team could adopt to help make this goal a reality. Next, the company should think about any activities it wants to put in place, such as new procedures or structural changes. Then, L&D will assess the skills needed to make these changes possible and create a comprehensive skills-focused training framework.

To boost engagement training teams should build their communications with managers and learners around their training objectives. This is a way of making training meaningful and helping managers contribute to the success of the course, working alongside L&D. Indicators here are critical.

Measuring training goals with KPIs

Once you’ve decided on your training goals, you have to think about how to evaluate them. It’s important to define your KPIs — key performance indicators — in advance and spread them across the three goal types (results-oriented, operational, and learning goals). These indicators are an essential resource that will help you analyze your results and decide what the training program has achieved and what it has failed to do.

For each objective, draw up a list of KPIs. Be selective about which indicators you use; only include data that is useful to you. Consequently, the indicators you choose should match the training needs that you worked out at the start, so only pick the relevant ones.

When designing a training package or program, take a step back to consider what your company’s needs are and how its interests are best served. You may need to bring in outside experts to help you understand the challenges you’re facing. Hence, at CrossKnowledge, we can help you define your objectives and carefully evaluate your KPIs. And consequently, help you create effective and successful training courses.