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How to Set Training Goals and Objectives


If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. 

At the beginning of every training program, there is a driving purpose; but unless you have clear written goals and objectives, how will you know once you've achieved that purpose? Setting training goals and objectives will keep your program on track and help you maximize outcomes.


Training Goals vs. Objectives

While many assume that goals and objectives are the same, the distinction between them is important. Let’s look at a roadmap, for example, the compass on the map provides the general direction, whereas the highways are the specific routes that describe how to go in a particular direction.

A goal statement is your compass—it is very broad and speaks to a primary outcome. Experts in our industry have been tying training goals to business outcomes—setting goals on performance and competencies that explicitly relate to ROI and ROE (return on expectations) for the proposed training. For example, a goals statement may answer the following: “What business outcomes do I want training to address?”

Objectives are like the highways on a roadmap—they describe measurable results you are to achieve to meet goals. Whereas you might have one or two-goal statements, you’ll likely have several objectives that relate back to the over-arching goal.

Don’t confuse objectives with program activities—objectives describe the results to be achieved by the program and help monitor progress toward program goals.


S.M.A.R.T. Training Objectives

As you create training program objectives, keep them S.M.A.R.T.

  • Specific: State objectives clearly, so there is no room for misinterpretation.
  • Measurable: Objectives should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence of accomplishment.
  • Achievable: Objectives should stretch you slightly so the goal feels challenging, yet attainable.
  • Relevant: Your objectives should be directly applicable to your end goals.
  • Time-Bound: Objectives should come with a realistic timeline for completion. 



Impact-Oriented Training Objectives

I indicated earlier that experts in our industry have stressed the importance of tying training objectives to business impact—specifically how training relates to ROI and ROE. When developing objectives you’ll want to think in terms of the business and performance outcomes your training program can impact.

  • Lower Costs: You can tie training objectives to lowered costs in terms of employee turnover rates, fewer workplace accidents and improved efficiencies.

  • Increased Profits: If you’re doing sales training, you can track individual performance objectives before and after training.

  • Improve Time-to-Market or Accelerate Time-to-Profit: Tie competency and performance metrics back to time-to-profit or time-to-market measures.

  • Operational Efficiency Improvements: Skills development training could be related back to business goals relating to operational efficiency.

  • Improve Customer Satisfaction: Your training can directly affect your customer’s satisfaction scores.

Every training will have its own objectives, dependent on the goals set for the program. Determine the best goals to meet the needs of your organization. Clearly identifying these training goals and objectives will keep your training focused on results and illustrate an investment in your company’s success.

If you found this information useful, check out The Complete Training Program Planning Guide. It’s full of useful information like this, including calculating a budget, logistics, measuring the success of your training and how to market your training. It’s completely free--get your copy now!

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