How to use training and development goals to strengthen your team
If you want your employees to thrive, clear goal-setting is important. This extends not only to workplace outcomes but also to training. Don’t just place your team members in front of a training module and walk away. Consider how you want your team members to engage with the training, and what you want them to get out of it. Set measurable, attainable goals for participation, performance, and results. When employees are presented with clearly defined goals and feel supported in those goals, the benefits include better engagement, lower turnover and a team that’s more confident and better equipped for success.
1. Establish specific, measurable goals
In order to help employees achieve the goals, the goals must be precise and actionable. You want smart goals that are tied to your company’s key performance indicators (KPIs) and business objectives. Define the benchmarks for success; don’t just make it a vague wish list.
What exactly does the employee need to know in order to ensure the best outcomes for the organization when it comes to time management, customer satisfaction, safety, compliance and ultimately sales and revenue? Outline what’s needed to achieve these ends.
2. Align training objectives to reinforce the goals
Once you determine the goals, build training materials to support them. The training should be tailored to promote the desired outcome and it should be segmented to emphasize the different areas of learning.
For example, if you use a tech-based training system, each training module should focus on a different relevant learning objective. In a retail environment, for instance, you might have one module focusing on how to deal with difficult customers, one focusing on the principles of upselling, one focusing on loss prevention, etc. You may end up with dozens or even hundreds of modules that cover all of your targeted areas of mastery. Decide which concepts are essential for each team member and set specific due dates for each module or learning objective.
3. Don’t assume that all goals have to be finite
We tend to think of goals as being finite—set a goal on June 1st, and complete it by July 31st. But not every goal has to be tied to a specific task completion. Establishing good training habits can be a goal in itself.
For example, one of your core goals might be to make training a daily habit that becomes as natural as clocking in and out. You can use technology to support your continuous training efforts. For instance, Axonify is a reinforcement training solution that offers short daily lessons, adaptive learning that constantly reinforces essential information and detailed metrics to help you measure each learner’s growth over time. With just 3 to 5 dedicated minutes per shift, you can ensure that your team is consistently retaining what they’ve learned and expanding what they know.
4. Regularly touch base with employees to determine goal progress
Don’t rely on training metrics alone to determine goal progress—check in with your employees regularly to get the full story. This can be integrated into the quarterly review process, or it can be included as part of regular one-on-one meetings. Ask employees for their feedback on the training, what’s working, what’s difficult and what still needs to be done.
When coming into this type of meeting, you should already have some idea (based on existing data) of where the employee stands in their goal progress. You should know if they’re falling short, ahead of schedule or struggling with a specific concept. You can use this data to guide the conversation while ultimately soliciting the employee’s feedback. If goals need to be adjusted, that’s okay too.
5. Be proactive about helping employees reach their goals
As you look for and identify potential areas of improvement, be sure to provide coaching and encouragement accordingly. If your employees rely on a digital training solution like Axonify, you can use available metrics to determine people’s participation rates, milestones, badges and areas of mastery. From there, you can see who’s struggling and where.
While correction and discipline may sometimes be required if employees are neglecting their goals, positive coaching can be more effective if employees are simply struggling to hit their benchmarks or understand the material.
6. Use positive reinforcement
To keep employees focused and motivated on their learning goals, use as much positive reinforcement as possible. This is a key tenet of many top organizations because it really does make a difference.
Take time to acknowledge employees for a job well done. As you observe growth and see people hitting their goals, consider rewarding that growth. Some employers use perks programs to reward employees for hitting specific milestones, but you don’t need a formalized platform to reward achievements. And career development is sometimes the best reward of all. If specific, aggressive goals are tied to raises or promotions, this can be especially motivating. Just make sure to follow through.
Be committed to your own learning as well
When overseeing training programs, managers and L&D professionals should remember that their own learning is essential as well. So take the time to listen to your employees’ feedback, examine your metrics and trends and determine what can be gleaned from the flow of information coming your way. What is and isn’t working in terms of the training materials? What information needs additional clarification or reinforcement? Where are employees consistently struggling in their own development?
Learn as you go and adapt accordingly. In doing so, you’ll be better equipped to meet everyone’s training needs. And that’s when the real growth will happen—both in employee development and in the pursuit of your company goals.