The days of a magical metabolism are long gone for me. Like a lot of people, I have a gym membership, but I find that the only thing getting thinner is my bank account. Last January, my gym started a monthly challenge, which was pretty simple: Take a class, and get a sticker on the tracking board. That month, I took more classes than ever, but the following month, I went back to my old habits.

Fast-forward to three months ago: I added some wearable tech to my life. There are metrics every day to track standing, exercising and burning calories. There’s a new challenge every month, and I receive reminders throughout the day when I double a goal, close all my rings, etc. The difference is that the measurement is based on actual movement and heart rate, not just showing up to the gym. After three months, I’m reminded: What gets measured gets done.

In training and development, we have heard that statement for years, and it led us down some dark paths, such as gated e-learning, forced assessment, timed e-learning, and “read and comply” courses. However, like those gym stickers, all these programs truly measured was that a learner showed up or was able to retain the information long enough to take the quiz (or screenshot the course so he or she could look up the answer). They did not capture the metrics we were looking to change and consider in our measurement strategy. True outcomes-based training comes down to four steps.

Step 1: Identify the Desired Results.

When developing a training strategy, start with the desired results. Are you looking to:

  • Increase conversion rate for sales opportunities?
  • Increase mean time between failure in a production facility?
  • Increase supervisor and direct report communication?
  • Increase collaboration in teams?

If your goal is to simply have the learners complete the training, stop there: That is not training. Send an email, print a poster or use some other means of communication. For the other results, move to step 2.

Step 2: Identify Other Influences.

Identify organizational structures, behaviors and business processes that will influence your results. For example:

  • Examine your compensation plan to determine if it is matched to your desired sales team results.
  • Examine your asset performance management strategy to determine its effectiveness.
  • Examine the organizational structure in place to determine if the right time and environment exist for those communications to occur.
  • Examine the physical environment your teams work in: Is there room and opportunity to collaborate?

Step 3: Make Changes.

With those influences in mind, develop a training program centered on your desired results. Work within your organization to make any other changes needed. Take pre-measurements to determine the baseline that you’ll compare your future measurements to.

Step 4: Monitor and Improve.

As you implement each new change, take a snapshot of your results. Don’t be afraid to continue to make changes. Training is often a journey, not an event. If a team still is not collaborating well, consider creating some events and giving them some conversation starters or other helpful guides and practices to encourage the desired results. If you have implemented some training but still aren’t seeing an increase in mean time between failure in your facility, consider baselining your employees’ basic skills and knowledge and providing some refresher training as a supplement.

Results do not happen in a day.

Sometimes the solution is just to wait. Change does not happen in an instant, and sometimes it does not even happen in three months. The important part is continuing to measure, support and take positive actions toward achieving your goals. Joining a gym, buying a fitness watch and corporate training all have one thing in common: There are no instant results. It takes hard work, modifications and dedication to get results. So, start to flex your muscles around what it is you are really looking to change, and develop strategies on how to achieve those results.