Everyone in the eLearning industry knows that training needs to not only produce learning but also put that learning into action. Training is only useful if it leads to performance improvement and specific, measurable results. But how can you ensure that happens? Isn’t it out of your control once that employee completes the training?

Not necessarily.

Let’s examine three things every learning leader can do to start creating trainings that can optimize your work environment and motivate people to perform.

1. Analyze Thoroughly

Learning always begins with the learner. You must design training with the learner in mind and target their performance needs. For example, the analysis phase of a training on sales should define the business goals that sales professionals strive to achieve, focus on the specific behaviors that achieve those results and include evidence-based practices into each measurable learning objective. To ensure the learner is always front and center of your design, keep the following questions in mind:

  • What does good performance look like for the learner?
  • What environment will the learner perform in?
  • How can the environment be replicated for the application of the content?
  • What are the values, culture and pace of the learner’s work environment?

If all that sounds overwhelming, it doesn’t need to be. Really, it comes down to this: Listen to your learners and understand your organization’s culture — then, ground yourself in the learner and what they must do in their job and use that to dictate your design.

2. Create Objectives for Performance and Practice

So now that you’ve taken a good look at your learner, what they need to do (end result) and what their work environment is like, you are ready to start crafting your learning objectives.

For instructional designers, writing learning objectives is foundational to creating measurable outcomes. When we write learning objectives, we are creating brief statements of what the learner should know and understand as a way of creating a blueprint for how to develop a lesson. From there, lessons build on each other to create training. For the workplace, we need to push beyond what a learner must understand and focus on what they must do in their work environment. Robert Mager is well known for his method of writing performance-based learning objectives. His style focused on three things:

  • Performance: What the learner is expected to be able to do or produce.
  • Conditions: The conditions under which the performance is expected to occur.
  • Criteria: The level of competence that should be met or exceeded.

To understand this method, it is best to look at some examples of training objectives (or performance-based objectives):

  • Given a job aid and case study (condition), the learner will be able to recommend three actions (criteria) an employee can take to create a collaborative environment (performance).
  • After reading this article (condition), the learners will be able to identify the three elements of performance objectives (performance) in a quiz with 95% accuracy (criteria).
  • Given gas metal arc welding equipment (condition), demonstrate how to set up and operate equipment (performance) to produce a fillet weld in the 1f position (criteria).

In each of these examples, you’ll notice we are focusing on the result (performance) and not the content or process of teaching. In eLearning courses, you may recognize a Mager-style objective has come into play when you see a real-world scenario or other interactive simulation. Performance objectives require the application of content and simulation of environment so that employees are prepared for what they must do when back on the job.

3. Know When to Stop

Finally, to ensure you are writing to hit targeted results, make sure you don’t try to fit too much content into a design. Stuffing everything that is known about a topic into a course doesn’t equal learning, it equals cognitive overload and lack of focus. Zero in on what is needed in the learner’s performance and focus on that. Break the learning down into lessons that are digestible and precise and phase your content so you can be systematic in your approach, with one course feeding into the next.

Remember, good training also includes the chance practice the newly acquired skills to confirm understanding and increase the likelihood of retention. If you can keep these key things in mind as you write your objectives, you will be well on your way to laying the groundwork for training that delivers results.