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How to Create Clear Learning Objectives for Your Training Program

There’s a popular saying that when we make plans, the universe laughs. Be that as it may, Learning and Development (L&D) teams can still create effective strategies for learners.

We surveyed our top Fortune 500 clients to pinpoint today’s most common challenges the L&D industry faces. The top reported challenges were symptoms of a larger problem: unclear learning objectives.

Poor engagement was reported as one of the leading challenges for L&D industry. We all know the faraway look. Unengaged learners stare into the abyss and retain surface-level knowledge at best. However, the right learning objectives allow you to create engaging training.

A second prominent challenge was approaching department needs appropriately. Determining the needs of each department and how to approach them best is a complex challenge that requires the right collaborators. Every department of your organization has different needs and learning styles.  For example, remote and non-exempt employees are just a few demographics with learning needs that require specific modalities. As your reach expands, scalability becomes harder to achieve.

Can we cue the good news? These challenges are seen across the board in all industries.

Cultivating learning engagement, approaching department needs, and introducing innovative learning solutions can be effectively managed by developing a clear strategy. Think of it this way. Creating clear learning objectives is like playing chess instead of checkers.

Why Clear Learning Objectives Are Important

Clear objectives inspire the raw materials for any learning process. Clarity leaves no room for ambiguity, allowing long-term business goals to evolve alongside individual employee development with complete transparency. Having the right conversations with business partners allows L&D professionals to create clear and meaningful learning objectives.

In lieu of single approach methods to creating a successful training program, consider a blended approach to the training that will appeal to different learning styles. Clear learning objectives are a great start to decide which training modalities should be used and incorporated into your learning and development program.

Learning objectives provide a framework for facilitators and learners to follow, serving as the first step in creating a playbook before the big game. These objectives help determine what plays will be successful on the field.

So, what can be achieved by creating clear learning objectives in your L&D program?

The Benefits of Clear Learning Objectives

When learning objectives are done right, you can develop appropriate training in the right modality, produce measurable results, achieve employee satisfaction, and effectively address learning needs.

Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is a clear pathway to higher retention. Clear learning objectives prioritize the information learners need to succeed. You can achieve employee satisfaction by sharing a vision for how they can develop alongside department goals.

Utilizing The Best Modality

Clear learning objectives guide L&D professionals to use the right learning modality, whether it’s immersive learning techniques, traditional eLearning, or a blended approach. There are several routes you can take when it comes to selecting the right modality, and you don’t need to pick just one. More often than not, L&D teams often utilize three to six different modalities to accommodate different learning styles and topics.

Address Learning Needs

Understanding the needs of specific roles enables your team to set clear objectives for growth. Creating clear learning objectives starts the momentum for creating meaningful training programs. For example, blended learning includes a variety of modalities and enhances the learning experience. By tackling specific areas of talent, your plan to optimize your workforce starts with successfully addressing learning needs.

Measurable Results

Clear learning objectives include a way to measure success. What should learners know and be able to perform after completing the training program? A comprehensive program should optimize productivity and offer measurable ROI. Course completion rates vs. assessment pass rates are just a few training metrics you can include in your program. We also have a tool that can help you (wink).

Ultimately, clear learning objectives are the road map for determining how training programs are created and are the best predictor for their success. We’ve created a step-by-step list of actions to take when creating your learning objectives.

How to Create Clear Learning Objectives in Your Training Program

Before putting pen to paper, the discovery process is the most important prerequisite when creating clear learning objectives. Here’s our how-to list:

Identify Skill Gaps

Identifying performance challenges and who is affected most will help inspire solutions for your workforce. The reality of your organization’s pain points is, in essence, the recipe for the solution. Ask yourself: Which areas have been overlooked? To mobilize your workforce, identify stagnant areas of employee development.

Are employees missing important information, accreditation, or practice? What missing skillsets are affecting productivity and efficiency? Would those same skills empower learners and improve their performance? To find the answers to these questions, conduct thorough research that might include an employee survey or feedback forum. Actively listen to all-level representatives of your corporation before creating your learning objectives.

Evaluate Different Learning Styles and Needs

Learners have different ways of connecting with new information. By evaluating your learning audience, an informed approach will help address employee development needs.

For example, it is important to discern what modality works best depending on the learning material being developed. The training modality will differ if someone needs to learn how to stack a palate vs. improve their communication skills. Will learners have a better chance of retaining knowledge through a job aid, instructor-led session, or a more immersive experience? Creating user-centric training enhances the results of learning and development programs.

Collaborate with SMEs

Collaborating with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) ensures that the right learning objectives are aligned with the goals and objectives of the business. Successful SME collaboration allows L&D programs to include the correct scope of training with expert insights.

Consulting with subject matter experts offers department specific details for training programs. Ultimately, subject matter experts have the knowledge needed to make recommendations based on their deeper understanding of specific roles.  SMEs serve as a resource and should be regarded as integral members of your team. They contribute knowledge that is directly applied to programs. SME collaborations are long-term relationships. Count on staying in touch after the program is complete.

Aim To Deliver Meaningful Training

As thinkers and learners, we map meaning onto all kinds of experiences. Align learners with the company’s broader strategy. Adult learners want to understand the “why” behind their training. By illustrating how their role fits into the bigger picture, training is delivered more meaningfully. The benefit? Meaningful training makes lasting impressions and motivates learners to utilize new skills.

Seek New Strategies

The future of learning is unfolding in real-time. Seeking new strategies to incorporate updated learning experiences is a valued approach to investing in the people who make the wheel turn day in and day out.  Learning and development strategies must evolve as new generations of learners emerge in the workplace.

Introduce Pilot Programming

Test the waters. Sometimes it is easier to gain buy in for a small pilot program than a full-scale training program. With newer technologies, a pilot allows your organization to learn about the technology, ensure the right content is developed, and evaluate how it is received by learners before implementing a full-scale program. Ultimately, the pilot results show if this is a scalable approach to meet business needs.

Discovery is half the battle when creating clear learning objectives. In order to deliver meaningful training, identify skill gaps that are affecting productivity, evaluate the learning styles and needs of departments, and collaborate with trusted SMEs. By seeking new strategies and pilot programming, your learning objectives will be clear as day. The best part? Clear objectives benefit everyone!

Clear learning objectives in your L&D program are like a breath of fresh air, fragrant with opportunity. The facts tell us that clear learning objectives are the key starting point to impact how employees perform their job functions and contribute to your organization with new efficiency and company alignment.

With the right data to support training results, leveraging technology as a learning tool has proven successful in corporate training. Expert training strategies help your business run safely and efficiently while giving your employees opportunities to grow. For more information on creating clear learning objectives for your L&D program, visit our Reality of Learning series here.

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