In an excerpt from The Power of Positive Thinking, the author has a conversation with a man about his goal of changing his life direction. A snippet of that conversation goes like this. “You want to go somewhere from where you are, but you don’t know where you want to go. You don’t know what you can do or what you would like to do. The author then talks about the failure of many goals being the lack of objectives and offers these words of wisdom, “no objective leads to no end.”
What can we learn from this story? Lack of achieving goals is linked to inefficient objectives or not having them in the first place. Whether you are applying this principle to personal or business goals, this is still a vital lesson.
So let’s apply this strategy to training and educating employees. While most companies have a learning management system (LMS) in place, spending on average $1,273 per employee, many fail to deliver on their programs’ goals. Although there are several articles as to why employee training programs fail, little point to lack of training objectives for the reason of this failing. So let’s take a look at training objectives as they apply to a company's LMS.
What are training objectives?
Companies know they need an LMS that helps their employees grow and learn. Where companies often fail is not adding training objectives to achieve their goals of these programs. Simply put training objectives are the measurable steps needed to achieve the overall training program goal.
Why are training objectives needed?
The next question you may be asking is are training goals really necessary? Isn’t a simple goal in mind enough? The simple answer is no. Training objectives are more important than the overall goal because just like in The Power of Positive Thinking example, objectives provide a roadmap for achieving your goal. Plus, it enables all parties involved to be on the same page. Stakeholders, employees, managers, facilitators, etc. will understand how the training program is supposed to run and what the expected results will be if they know what the objectives are from the beginning. Below are some other training objective advantages worth mentioning.
Pros of training objectives:
- Saves time and money. Companies may think objectives are an unnecessary planning step that wastes time. But in actuality, objectives save time and money. Writing down your training objectives ahead of implementation will give your goal structure. Plus, it will further define what your goal is and prove you have created the correct one for your LMS.
- Helps to design training materials. When you know what the objectives are, you can define what materials are needed for your employees. For example, do you need a blended learning environment? Will your training materials be assigned by department, individual or level at the company? What features does your LMS need to have?
- Gives administrators training roadmap. These objectives will help your program administrators implement the training. When they know why they are teaching the courses or lessons, it will strengthen their ability to deliver these in an effective way.
- Let employees know what they will be learning. Sharing your objectives with your employees will let them know why you think your LMS is important. You want motivated employees who take training seriously and think their time away from their job is being well spent.
- Helps with analysis. Once your training program is rolled out, you can check each objective against your goal. Did you achieve all your training objectives with your LMS? If not, what tweaks can you make? This also offers a great opportunity to ask employees and facilitators their thoughts on if program objectives were met.
How to write training objectives
Now that we’ve talked about the reasons for creating training objectives, let’s discuss what makes a great training objective over just an average one. Educational theorist Robert Mager created a framework of three main components to learning objectives. This framework is a great way to structure each of your objectives to make sure they are clear, specific, and measurable.
Components of good training objectives
What are you hoping employees take away from your LMS? What will they ultimately learn? Your objectives should measure employee performance during the training process. You want to prove that if employees follow the training outlined for them, they will benefit in a specific way.
How will the employees learn? What materials will they be given and in what timeframe? Learning objectives should contain specific details of the training program. Think about where your training will be offered, what employees are eligible for which learning materials, and what the deadlines are for completing certain programs.
How will you measure your learning objectives? How will you know you accomplished what you set out to do? Make sure all your objectives either have a time, number or method for checking it was successful. Without this measurable component, it will be hard to judge if your objectives were all met.