How Goal-Setting Can Transform the Employee Learning Experience

Companies today realize that using the right Learning Managing System is the first step towards empowering their employees to grow and learn.

There are key numbers supporting the above statement.

In 2017, the percentage of US companies using online learning hit 77%. According to the Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Outlook Survey, eLearning could reduce employee training time by as much as 40-60%.

Amazon recognized this new era of employee training and took the action required to seize today’s labor market, investing millions towards employee training.

This report shows that 67% of employers surveyed in 2019 offer educational assistance to some or all of their employees, indicating America’s commitment to a more productive, happier workforce.

Employee development programs are the best way to tap into current employee potential. The main goal is to improve the employee’s existing competencies to help achieve the employer’s goals.

While most managers get it right by introducing training plans, they fall short by failing to take the measurable steps required to put a favorable learning outline in place.

Why Are Learning Objectives Important for Employee Training?

Training objectives are the measurable steps a manager needs to achieve their overall training program goal.

Employee training and goal-setting are vital responsibilities for any manager. By setting attainable goals, a manager not only spearheads an improvement in employee performance but also fortifies the company’s reputation as an employer of choice.

A Harvard MBA study on goal setting found that 14% of the MBAs who set goals were 10 times more successful than those without goals, even though they hadn’t actually written their goals down.

The 3% of MBAs who had written their goals down, were 3 times more successful than the 14% with unwritten goals.

The main benefits of setting training objectives are:

  • Saving the company time and money
  • Determining the design process for training materials and features
  • Giving learning administrators a training roadmap
  • Allowing employees to set clear goals
  • Helping administrators with analysis
  • Bringing sharp focus to the company’s short-term and future success
  • Setting guidelines and criteria for successful employee performance reviews

How Can You Set Appropriate Training Goals?

This TED Talk by John Doerr sums it up nicely.

“Execution is what matters the most.”

Before starting any training cycle, the manager needs to conduct a Training Needs Analysis (TNA).

Although a TNA can be conducted at any time, they’re best done:

  • After hiring new employees
  • Right before performance reviews
  • When performance improvements are needed
  • To facilitate incumbent employees’ career development
  • When new changes are made to employees’ jobs

Before crafting training learning objectives, the manager needs to access their LMS goal and answer these questions:

  • Does the LMS goal reflect the company’s vision of how training programs should be run?
  • Is the goal shaped towards the intended result of a well-run program?
  • What are the company’s immediate, intermediate, and long-term training needs?
  • What gaps exist in the employees’ job performances?

Once These Questions Are Handled, the Training Managers’ Next Steps Include:

Factoring in the Whole Company

For example, if the company employs full-time, part-time or remote employees, the learning objectives should consider them as well:

  • Company stakeholders
  • Training facilitators
  • Contractors
  • Team Leads

Considering All Employee Training Levels

A program created for entry-level employees cannot be the same as one targeting seasoned ones.

The training manager must create objectives based on the varying degrees of curriculum and material required at each employee level.

Learning goals should take into account the six cognitive learning goals outlined by Bloom’s Taxonomy. These include:

Remembering: Where the learner is required to recall their previously acquired knowledge, i.e.: recognize, recall, retrieve, list, name, define, and match.

Understanding: Where the learner needs to demonstrate their comprehension by explaining what they learned to others. I.e.: interpret, identify, classify, and explain.

Applying: Where the learners can make the transition from theory to practice i.e.: organize, plan, implement, execute, and solve.

Analyzing: Where the learners can effortlessly break down gained knowledge into smaller components and identify each differing relationship in the information i.e.: categorize, classify, simplify, list, distinguish, and compare.

Evaluating: Where learners are able to exercise judgment and form decisions based on the knowledge acquired i.e.: choose, compare, measure, determine, disprove, prioritize, and interpret.

Creating: Where learners become independent enough to create something new using the newly acquired knowledge i.e.: develop, design, improve, adapt, solve, modify, and perform.

Involving the Employees in the Whole Process

The drive behind setting goals is to help employees improve organically. Naturally, including them from start to finish is the smart choice.

Securing employee buy-in for training and development has its perks:

  • It increases the likelihood of success.
  • Short- and long-term goals can be a collaborative effort between the employees and the manager.
  • There’s a higher chance of developing SMART training goals (specific, measurable, actionable, results-oriented, and time-bound).
  • It raises employee commitment and allows a sense of ownership over their training.
  • It encourages employees to set stretch goals.
  • It motivates ongoing development, even beyond the workplace.

Linking Business Objectives to Employees’ Individual Goals

Most companies that report effective performance management systems have found a way to align their employees’ goals to the organization’s business priorities.

Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit. — C. William Pollard, Chairman, Fairwyn Investment Company

The training facilitator must show employees how their individual goals can fit into the bigger company picture.

By converting the above elements into overall team performance goals, the facilitator increases the employees’ levels of personal accountability over their performances.

Adapting Learning Goals in Real-Time

Successful adult learning goals evolve over time.

An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage. — Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO

The biggest mistake training managers make is creating goals at the beginning of the year and only getting back to them during reviews.

Business realities vary from month to month, and failing to revisit them can be demotivating for the employees. Therefore, the goals must flow with the organization’s changes throughout the year.

Great Employee Learning Goals

Learning goals are headed in the right direction if they:

  • Include specific action verbs e.g.: Before the next quarter, all employees need to demonstrate proficiency in using our new office communication tool.
  • Include a specific criterion for measuring success e.g. 90% training attendance or at least half of employees scoring over 70% in evaluation tests.
  • Are concise and succinct, featuring shorter sentences with clear intent.
  • Define expected outcomes.

Try Out World Manager

Here are some examples of specific goals:

Before Q1, the training facilitator shall have in-depth knowledge of how departments within the company are run.

All new hires must complete the onboarding training within three months.

At the end of induction training, each employee will be able to discuss the company’s vision and how it ties to their own role.

Before Q2, we shall conduct a feedback survey to determine what needs improvement.

By the end of Q2, each department should have completed training based on their needs.

Making It Work

Every training manager or facilitator should remember that goal-setting should at no point be framed as a competition among employees. Encouraging internal rivalry will only demotivate some while alienating others.

Employees with similar responsibilities should have the same training goals.

It is, however, important to have a system in place to reward employees who achieve or exceed their goals. The recognition could be in the form of:

  • A bonus check
  • Public acknowledgment
  • Training certificates
  • Promotions

Rewards incentivize people to push themselves while strengthening the corporate culture.

Since you are dealing with a human workforce, the training manager should also account for some employees falling short of their goals.

The manager’s role, in this case, is to step in and provide guidance where needed, not berate the employees. Together, they should discuss areas of difficulty before coming up with feasible solutions for retraining, with better objectives.

When done correctly, employee learning goals can propel real change, improving organizational commitment, and clarity.

Book a demo with World Manager today to learn how to enhance your current employee, stakeholder, and customer training using the right LMS.