4 Ways to Avoid One of the Most Common Training Mistakes

October 2, 2019

We often see training professionals committing the fatal error of confusing training goals with organizational goals. This creates division between training and the organization it serves, and often makes training professionals look foolish in the eyes of their stakeholders.

So what is the difference between a training goal and an organizational goal?

Organizational goals are the highest mission and purpose of an organization, and this is the real goal of any training program. An example in a for-profit company is meeting client needs with the right products at the right time, in a way that is profitable for the company.

In a not-for-profit organization, the goal is usually the reason the organization was created. For example, to ensure a clean water supply, save lives, or manage the financial resources of the country for the most good.

In our opinion, there is hardly such a thing as a training goal, because the goal of all training is to improve Level 3 Behavior of training graduates on the job, and contribute meaningfully to Level 4 Results of the organization. If you can’t make the connection between training and Levels 3 and 4 in plain conversation, then it’s questionable if the training is well-conceived, or if it is even necessary.

An example of a training goal we find counterproductive is a statement like, “The goal of this training is to provide knowledge about safety procedures.” We prefer to see this goal stated in higher level terms, such as, “The goal if this program is to prepare employees to work in a safe manner to eliminate lost-time injuries, close calls and related costs for the organization.” This ties the safety training to some of the highest goals of the organization, including keeping employees safe and unharmed at work, and avoiding unnecessary costs.

When training professionals change their dialog from Level 2 Learning to Level 3 Behavior and Level 4 Results, they are speaking the language of their stakeholders, and gaining respect and support. They are also ensuring that the training truly is tied to what is organizationally important.

All major training initiatives should be tied to the highest goals and key directives of the organization. This means that you need to be familiar with those goals and the key metrics the company or organization is prioritizing right now. Here are four ways to discover them:

  1. Read the “about us” section of the company website.
  2. Look at mission and vision statements, and what types of messages are posted on the walls of the office.
  3. Ask your boss about the highest priorities or directives for each department this quarter/year.
  4. If appropriate, request to attend strategy and planning meetings, even if just an observer to start. Or, ask your boss for a summary of what was discussed.

Once you are clear on the key initiatives and goals in your organization, look at the training programs that are consuming the most time, money and resources. Is there a direct link between the programs and highest-level goals? If not, re-evaluate if training resources are properly allocated to create value for your company and show the important contribution training makes.

Do you need some assistance in learning how to do this? Consider getting Kirkpatrick bronze-level certified. Or get started by reading our latest bookIf you have questions or if we can help, please reach out

Additional resources

Avoid the Allure of Training Activity

Increased Results from Fewer Resources: How Maersk Line Accomplished It

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