Business Goals, KPIs, and Job Training

Business Goals, KPIs, and Training ImageJob training shouldn’t be designed or delivered in a vacuum. And you probably know that.

We’ve written a LOT about how training should be delivered with the learners in mind (the employees, that is). And that’s definitely true and important.

But in this article, we’re going to look at training from a different angle: the connection between training and the business itself–in particular, the goals of a business. And we’ll do that by looking at business goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), and job training.

Sometimes, trainers forgot to consider this and forget to build it into their training, development, delivery, and evaluation process.

So hopefully this will be a good review and reminder.

Business Goals and Job Training

All job training should be designed so that it helps a business reach one or more of its business goals.

The business goal or goals can be any number of things: increase revenue, decrease cost, improve quality, decrease machine downtime, improve regulatory compliance, decrease safety incidents, decrease absenteeism, shorten new employee onboarding, etc.

Whatever the goal or goals are, it’s important to remember that:

  • You (the trainer and/or training developer) should know what those goals are before training development begins
  • You should continually keep those goals in mind while designing, developing, and delivering training
  • You want to create training that helps the business move toward or reach those goals

Here’s an article about analyzing business goals that may prove helpful if you’re looking for more information about goals.


Business Goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

So now that we agree it’s important for training to directly relate to and support business goals, let’s turn our attention to how we can know if our training is doing that.

And that’s where key performance indicators, also known as KPIs, come in.

KPIs are ways to measure things. A simple KPI is profit, measured and tracked daily, weekly, quarterly, or annually. Another KPI would be operating cost. Another KPI would be the number of safety incidents tracked per month, and yet another would be any of the various metrics used to measure quality in manufacturing, such as OEE.

The basic idea is that a KPI is a numerical way to measure progress toward a business goal.

As a trainer, once you’ve identified the business goal or business goals your training should support, the next thing you want to do is determine which KPI is used to measure progress toward that goal.

You can then find the value of that KPI before training begins, and use that as a baseline to compare the value of that same KPI after training has occurred (or, if the training occurs over a long period of time, as it occurs and then after). This simple before-and-after comparison will give you an effective way to determine if  your training materials are helping the business move toward reaching its business goal(s).

If you complete your training, and if the relevant KPI improves, that suggests that your training had a positive effect and was responsible for part or all of that improvement. However, it’s important to remember that other factors may have played a role, as well. To help “tease out” the effects that your training had on the KPI, read our article about isolating the effects of training during evaluation.


How to Identify Business Goals and KPIs

As a trainer, you may not always be “in the loop” about business goals and KPIs. And so you may not know which business goals your training should support, and which KPIs to use to measure before/after progress toward those goals.

But that’s OK. When you’re working together with department managers and supervisors, ask them for help identifying these.

In some cases, they’ll be able to tell you immediately.

In other cases, you may catch them off guard. Maybe they haven’t thought this through either just yet. If that’s true, explain to them that you want to create training for a legitimate reason (to prepare employees so they can help the company move toward business goals) and you want to use KPIs to measure the effectiveness of training. With that explanation, the manager or supervisor should see the value in what you’re trying to do and should be able to help you identify some business goals and  relevant KPIs. Remember this article about business goals might by a handy help here.

Conclusion: Business Goals, KPIs, and Job Training

Maybe you’ve been creating training key to specific business goals and measured by KPIs for some time. If so, great.

But if not, now’s a good time to start keeping these in mind when you’re designing, developing, delivering, and evaluating your training and training materials. Let us know your thoughts in the comments area below.

You may also want to read the following articles related to this topic:

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Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. He's worked in training/learning & development for 20 years, in safety and safety training for more than 10, is an OSHA Authorized Outreach Trainer for General Industry OSHA 10 and 30, and is a member of the committee creating the upcoming ANSI Z490.2 national standard on online environmental, health, and safety training.

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