Setting and noting down training objectives may be the most significant, yet most overlooked phase of the training and development cycle. With the L&D team raring to go straight to designing slides and organizing classes, putting together a training objectives plan is often pushed down on the list of priorities and isn’t given the attention it deserves.
Smart training objectives, though, set your courses up for success. Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound is what you should aim for (but more on that later). Following the SMART format, you will also be able to communicate these objectives in a way that intrigues and resonates with employees.
This article will show you how to create and write effective training objectives. First, let’s answer a key question:
What are the main objectives of training?
Before your start writing down your objectives for training, figure out what you want to achieve through training. Apart from company-specific goals, most benefits and objectives of employee training are universal. These are:
- Employee retention. Modern employees are known for their job-hopping tendencies, which are often the result of inadequate career development opportunities. Employee training and career growth are closely intertwined.
- Future-readiness. Skilled employees are confident, optimistic, and ready for the future workplace and any challenges it may bring. Employee reskilling and upskilling are currently top priorities among companies that want to safeguard their position in the market and adopt the latest technologies and work trends.
- Better employee performance. This training goal is obvious but critical, so it needs to be mentioned nonetheless. The primary goal of training is to reinforce existing skills and competencies so that employees became more productive. These competencies range from using digital tools for everyday tasks to mastering the latest sales techniques.
- Better services and products. A company is as good as its employees. The most brilliant ideas will fail if they’re not executed well. Your employees, one way or another, are the ones bringing these ideas to life and those who will ultimately define the quality of your offerings.
Keep in mind that different training programs need to accomplish different outcomes, and will often have different types of learning objectives, like:
- Affective, and
Understanding the reasons behind your training will help you to better communicate your development objectives. The main training objectives examples include:
- To gain new knowledge or information that helps employees to do a job well
- To learn physical skills, like using physical machinery quickly and efficiently
- To influence employee attitudes and perceptions toward learning or organizational change
- To develop social skills, like leadership or teamwork abilities
Whatever the reason behind your training, it’s important that you set training goals that are easy to measure, relevant to your business objectives, and realistic to achieve.
How do you write training objectives?
Once you have identified your training aims, it’s time to put them down on paper. These will be not only the building block of your training course but also your most convincing marketing material.
Does writing the objectives of training intimidate you? There’s no need to. These five tips will help you create effective, realistic, and measurable objectives for employee training like a pro. You’ll also find some examples for inspiration.
1. Make the purpose of the training program clear
What do you want to accomplish with this training program? Improve employee performance? Address a knowledge gap? Teach new employee skills that will make your company more competitive? Whatever the case may be, you need to make sure that the purpose of the training is clear.
Remember that training programs do not just come out of thin air. There is always a reason why training needs to take place. A training needs analysis will uncover skills and knowledge gaps among your employees and point you in the right direction. Once you’ve identified your training needs and decided on the purpose of training, you’ll find it easier to create and write training objectives.
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2. Define expected training outcomes
Training outcomes are the measurable goals learners are expected to achieve at the end of a training program. Outcomes determine the success (or failure) of your training strategy since you’ll evaluate training based on whether or not your teams have reached these outcomes.
When writing down the desired training outcomes, make sure you’re specific and leave nothing to interpretation. Avoid using vague words like “understand”, “realize”, and “learn”. Use verbs that show tangible and observable action instead, like “create”, “demonstrate”, and “calculate”.
Using concise vocabulary will also help bring your point home and convince employees about the usefulness of training. So don’t just say “During this course, you will learn the basic functions of Excel.” A better-phrased, and more effective, training objective would be “After completing this course, you will be able to create and modify Excel files.”
3. Put conditions into great consideration
When formulating training objectives you must take into consideration several parameters that will affect the design and delivery of your training program.
For example, the availability of a qualified instructor or venue can determine the way you deliver training. So will the type of your workforce (are they in-house or remote employees?) and your budget.
Take into account prerequisites, as well. Very often, learners might need to have a baseline knowledge of a subject or some familiarity with a skill to join a course. Don’t take for granted that they do and create impossible training aims.
These parameters can, and will, play a big part when designing and implementing your training program. Find out where you stand, take these conditions and limitations seriously, and create your objectives for training accordingly.
4. Align training objectives with business goals
Training objectives need to be grounded on observable, measurable outcomes. These outcomes, in turn, have to be based on certain criteria, usually key performance indicators or skill levels. Why?
Because the fundamental goal of training is to produce business results. So, unless the objectives of employee training are based on business metrics, training will be a waste of time and resources.
An effective and relevant training program is one that aligns training goals with business goals.
5. Write down your training aims using the SMART format
The SMART format has been the go-to standard when it comes to setting any type of objective – training or otherwise. Creating smart training objectives can be summed up in five letters, and these are:
S – Specific
Training goals need to be specific and narrow. Who will gain what skills, and for which purpose? Focus on one specific skill or knowledge for each training objective.
M – Measurable
Secondly, learning outcomes need to be measurable. This means that the newfound skill or knowledge should be able to be measured in specific terms, e.g., a 5% increase in quarterly sales.
A – Attainable
Attainable means that the objectives of training are realistic given the amount of time and resources available. For example, you cannot expect learners to master a complex skill given just thirty minutes or one hour of training.
R – Relevant
Being relevant means your training aims answer the “Why?” question. Always remember WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”). Learners need to know why they are in training and what they can get out of it. Will the skills or knowledge they’re going to gain help them perform better at work? Will they be able to use these skills in actual work scenarios?
T – Time-bound
The time-bound element answers the question, “When?”. There is a saying that a goal without a deadline is just a dream. The same applies to training aims. The deadline is usually set at the end of the training program. Of course, in some cases, further practice might be required.
But how do you create effective learning objectives? Here are examples of vague learning goals converted into SMART training objectives:
- Vague: “Learners will understand the SMART format.”
- SMART: “At the end of the session (Time-bound, Attainable), supervisors will be able to create (Measurable), SMART goals (Specific) for their respective teams (Relevant).”
- Vague: “Participants will learn how to operate the new system.”
- SMART: “At the end of the session (Time-bound, Attainable), the participants will be able to process sales orders (Specific, Measurable) on the new CRM system (Relevant).”
Training objectives examples
Business objectives should be SMART. That’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. And so, training objectives should be SMART, too. If they’re not, your training isn’t going to be perfect.
We know that showing is often better than telling, so here are some SMART training objectives that align with the hypothetical business objective to halve production time.
- Upskill the operations manager to increase production line efficiencies and reduce production time by 25% within the next 6 months.
- Train the production team in machinery handling and operating to reduce production time by 25% within the next 6 months.
Both of these training objectives are specific (production line efficiencies and machinery handling), measurable (25%), attainable (possible to action through training), relevant (they support the business objective), and time-bound (6 months).
Training objectives tie a training program with actual business results. Establishing clear, realistic, and measurable training goals at the onset of the training development process will play a big part in ensuring the success of your course.
Clear-cut training aims not only answer the audience’s intent “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM). They also link training with company goals and measurable outcomes. A lot actually depends on these goals; so do the smart thing—and make them SMART!
Originally published on: 22 Nov 2017 | Tags: Learning Goals & Objectives