How To Set Training Goals: Steps, Tips and Examples

Updated March 10, 2023

Training and development is an important component of helping employees be productive, happy and aware of the expectations within their role. There are several steps you can take to set successful training goals for your team, including assessing the training needs of each person, offering constructive feedback when needed and measuring KPIs. In this article, we'll explore training and development, how to set training goals, tips for establishing these goals and examples of training goals in the workplace.

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What is training and development?

Training and development can be considered any educational or training activities aimed at helping employees advance their skills and knowledge within their position. The training aspect of training and development is typically operatives and goals and that are met in the short term. The development aspect is the result of continuously meeting training goals and growing professionally. Training is often used to help employees develop a specific set of skills or knowledge, while development is a more comprehensive approach to becoming a better professional.

Why is training and development important?

Training and development is important for several reasons, including:

  • Increases workplace productivity

  • Ensures all team members are competent in their duties

  • Supports the development of new skills

  • Improves workplace culture

  • Increases a company's overall productivity

  • Shows that employers truly care about employees' job satisfaction

Many team leaders and managers implement training and development to improve the productivity and efficiency of individuals on their teams. They also incorporate training and development to keep team members motivated and to enhance their overall contribution abilities.

Related: Guide To Employee Training and Development: How To Do It Effectively

How to set training goals

The following are steps you can take when creating training goals for your team:

1. Define the "Why"

Before you can begin creating and implementing training goals for your team, you must first identify the "Why" that supports your reasoning behind creating these goals in the first place. For example, you could define the following goals:

  • Implement training goals to increase team productivity

  • Develop a training program that teaches team members a new skill to be used for an upcoming project

Identifying the reason why can allow you to know exactly what types of goals to set and what the desired outcomes for each goal will be.

2. Identify any gaps

After defining the "Why," identify any gaps concerning employee performance or lack of skills. This is sometimes referred to as a training needs analysis and allows you to pinpoint specific areas of weakness within your team. Consider if your team members have the right abilities and skills to accomplish a particular task or project and what might be missing that prevents them from accomplishing those tasks.

3. Perform job-related assessments

There are several different assessments that you can perform to determine how well your team can complete certain tasks or projects. Common job-related assessments to consider include task analysis, personality analysis, performance analysis or content analysis. For example, a personality analysis gives you a better idea of the specific skills and abilities of an individual employee as well as their learning style. This information will allow you to create training goals that are effective across all team members and that take into account each individual's unique needs.

Related: What Are the Different Types of Workplace Training?

4. Create goals using the SMART method

SMART goals, which stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound goals, are much more effective and powerful than goals with no clear objective or timeline. Setting SMART goals is a great way to keep track of each goal's progress as well as identify any areas of improvement when necessary.

Follow these steps when setting SMART goals:

  • Specific: Make sure your goal is clearly defined and easily understandable by all team members. Avoid generalized or vague goals that offer clear direction.

  • Measurable: Determine how you'll measure each goal as your team members progress. This could include statistics, amounts or dates. For example, a measurable goal would be that all team members should know how to perform basic functions on a new software by a specific date.

  • Attainable: It's important to ensure that the goals you set for your team are actually attainable. Goals that can't be met can result in discouragement or reduced confidence in team members.

  • Relevant: The goals you create for your team should be relevant to the overall goal of your department or organization. Keeping your training goals aligned with the business objectives of the organization ensures that not only the employees benefit but that the company as a whole also benefits from employee training.

  • Time-bound: Every training goal you establish should have a deadline. This not only keeps each goal on track but also creates a sense of urgency and increases the probability of achievement among team members.

5. Regularly evaluate progress

Once your training goals have been put in place and are being implemented by team members, you should regularly evaluate the progress of each goal. Keeping track of how each goal is progressing gives you an idea of what's working and what isn't and allows you to make any changes when necessary to increase the effectiveness of each goal.

6. Make the goals visible

When training goals are shared with others, team members are more likely to stay motivated and accountable for reaching those goals. Make the training goals you set public or encourage team members to share their specific goals with others on their team.

7. Implement a reward system

Many employees are more likely to work towards and stick to a goal if it involves a reward. While intrinsic rewards, such as the satisfaction of getting better at a particular task, are certainly important, consider implementing extrinsic rewards as well to keep employees motivated. Examples of extrinsic rewards include recognizing team members when they reach a certain goal and offering a bonus for goal completion.

Related: The Importance of Training Employees: 11 Benefits

Tips for setting training goals

The following are a few tips to keep in mind when setting goals for training:

  • Ensure everyone understands the purpose of the training goal. Employees want to know why they are being asked to participate in training, and when employees feel confused or that the reason is unclear, they are less likely to be motivated when working towards a goal. Make sure each team member understands the purpose of the training goals and answer any questions they may have to ensure the purpose is clear.

  • Set long-term and short-term training goals. Short-term goals are great because they allow employees to realize results in a relatively short time. They can also work to motivate employees to continue to work towards long-term goals. Consider setting both short- and long-term goals at the same time to keep employees engaged.

  • Regularly check in with team members. It's important to regularly check in with your team throughout the course of each training goal. This allows you to address any issues or difficulties and ensure all team members are on the right path towards reaching the goal.

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Examples of training goals in the workplace

Here are a few examples of training goals in the workplace:

  • Increase customer response rates by 25% by the end of the quarter.

  • Decrease the time it takes to write an article by 15% within three months.

  • Have all team members learn how to use a new software proficiently by Q4.

  • Resolve customer complaints 50% faster by April.

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