Creating your employee training content can be a long process. You want to ensure that you offer the best material and that you accomplish your organization’s goals while also keeping employees motivated to work through the courses. The basis for achieving all of this is starting with the learning outcomes.
What Are Learning Outcomes?
Learning outcomes are the goals you have for the training course you are developing. It’s a simple concept, but it isn’t always so simple to summarize precisely what you want employees to learn in a readily communicable way.
Having learning outcomes defined and summarized is vital, however. The benefit of having this careful definition of what the course teaches is that it keeps employees motivated to finish the course and eliminates confusion from the start. Right away, a few sentences describing what the goal is will have a tangible impact on the success of the training.
You may be worried that you can’t write an effective learning outcome statement. Here are the best tips for creating yours.
Start with Your Business Goals
The best place to start when deciding what the learning outcomes should be is your organization’s overall goals. You want your training to align with those goals clearly – that way, employees know that their efforts serve the organization’s bottom line.
Think about the immediate goals you have for the next year or even the next quarter. Where do you want your organization to be in that time, and what training do you need to offer to accomplish that objective?
Keep Learning Objectives Simple
The ideal length for learning objectives is no more than a couple of sentences for a single training course. Be specific and straightforward with these sentences. Don’t worry about the details that are taught in the course. Instead, just convey what skill, knowledge, or process the employee will take away. Imagine the employee at the end of the course – what do they now know that they didn’t before? That should be the focus of your learning objectives.
Be Realistic with Learning Objectives
You can motivate employees by setting high expectations for performance. But when it comes to training, it’s best to set very realistic expectations. Learning objectives should be reasonable so that employees don’t feel overwhelmed before they even start a training program. Teaching too much information at once will not help employees retain information long-term. If you start with an objective that is too easy for your team, you can always increase the challenge along the way.
Motivate with Action Words
The best learning objectives use powerful verbs that motivate employees to take a specific action. Verbs like “understand” or “be aware of” are not the best motivators. We know what the definition of “understand” is, but can we point to a person and tangibly say that we see their understanding of a topic?
Instead, use verbs that correspond to outwardly measurable actions. For example, instead of learning objectives like “Employees understand company procedures,” try “Employees are able to apply company procedures.” Everyone can see a person applying procedures.
Action verbs also help employees to know precisely what they are learning to do with this course. They already know they are learning – tell them what they will do with what they learn.
Learning Objectives According to Bloom
If you struggle to create the learning objectives that work best for your organization, another tool you can use is Bloom’s Taxonomy. This is an educational tool developed in the 1950s by a psychologist named Benjamin Bloom, which defines six goals for learners. Many educators today still use the six goals he defined to create their classroom learning objectives.
- The first goal is to remember information. Learning objectives often sound like “Employees will be able to list these important pieces of information.”
- The next goal is to understand information. The objectives often sound like “Employees will be able to identify this important information.”
- The third goal is to apply the information. These objectives are usually written like “Employees can more efficiently perform this task.”
- The fourth goal is to analyze information, and it often sounds like “Employees can now categorize this data.”
- The next goal is to evaluate information. The learning objectives for this goal often sound like “Managers can now better prioritize tasks.”
- The final goal is to create or develop something new. Objectives for this goal often sound like “Employees can develop new strategies.”
These six learning goals can help you create your own objectives. Remember to align your objectives with your organization’s goals and to use the tips above to make your final objective motivating to learners.
Remember to Be Specific
The final note on how to create your own learning objectives is to be very specific. These objectives should address a single problem or need within your organization. For example, if you want to increase sales, what would your learning objective be?
It shouldn’t be “increase sales.” That is too generic. Instead, dive deeper and discover what specific skill or piece of knowledge your sales team is missing. Write your learning objective to reflect that need. Suppose the issue is that your team isn’t communicating well, and you need them to apply better communication skills. In that case, your learning objective should be: “Sales team employees will utilize these specific communication skills by the end of this training.”
Learning Objectives Improve Your Training
If you are wondering why writing learning objectives matter so much, consider these two points:
- Your employees will work more efficiently and with more motivation if they know exactly what and why they are learning.
- You will be able to quickly assess if targets are being met when you have a specific goal created for every training course.
Those two points alone make the trouble of writing a good learning objective worth it. If you take the time to choose specific verbs with realistic learning goals that are aligned with your company’s vision, you can easily create winning objectives.