Linking Training Objectives with Business Needs

There may be a number of reasons why you want to evaluate a training programme, including, for example, to:

  • find out whether the programme has contributed towards meeting business performance objectives
  • test the effectiveness of a new programme
  • find out whether an existing programme should continue
  • discover how to improve a programme
  • identify future learning needs
  • assess whether a programme is cost-effective.

Whatever evaluation aim(s) you have, you will need to ensure that your evaluation process measures against the original training programme objectives, ie the planned business outcomes. This is vital, not least because it will ensure that the programme is evaluated in terms of what it was actually supposed to achieve rather than some other criteria.

This in turn means that the programme training objectives will need to be clearly defined in the first place.

Identifying training needs and objectives

In order to set training objectives that are tightly focussed, aligned to strategic priorities and realistically achievable they will need to be based on a training needs analysis covering both business objectives and the individual development needs of participants.

A key part of this will involve working as closely as possible with key business stakeholders to ensure that training needs are aligned to the organisation’s core strategies and objectives, and to ensure that stakeholders’ expectations regarding training outcomes are clear and measurable (more on this in the next section, ‘Getting people involved’).

The following can be useful to consider when analysing training needs:

  • business and workforce development plans
  • changes in working practices, such as new technology, legislation and systems and/or responsibilities
  • observations and data on performance with reference to work targets
  • competency assessments
  • professional requirements
  • feedback from line managers including details of tasks where improvements are needed
  • customer feedback
  • team meetings
  • appraisals
  • performance assessments
  • learning needs surveys.

The training needs you identify should be translated into SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) training objectives. These should state clearly what the participant should be able to do after the training activity has been completed, to what standard, and by when.

Eg "Ability to perform X portion of job to Y standard by Z time."

Wherever possible training objectives should be referenced to recognised performance standards and should state the conditions under which performance will be assessed. You will also need to state how the success of the training programme will be measured at an organisational level, eg which business performance measures will be used and what percent changes will be expected to these.

Formulating training objectives in this way will not only ensure a sound starting point for the development and delivery of training, it will also provide a robust set of criteria against which you can evaluate the success of the programme.

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