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Create Targeted Learning Initiatives by Linking Training to Business Impact

Written by Rae Feshbach

“Consistency: It’s only a virtue if you’re not a screw up.”

I saw that quote on a “demotivational” poster (the text was below a picture of several arrows that had all hit the exact same spot on an archery target, but they were nowhere near the bullseye) and it quickly became my favorite. Not only is it hilarious (to me at least), but it’s perfectly relevant to creating workplace learning initiatives. Every learning initiative or training needs to be effective, engaging, and relatable. But even if you have the best training in the world, if you’re targeting the wrong behaviors, you won’t get the results you’re after. You can consistently make something engaging and still miss the mark.

So how do you know if you’re targeting the right behaviors to create learning initiatives that have meaningful business impact?

1. Determine the business outcome you want to achieve
The business outcome is your bullseye. But it’s not always so obvious that that’s where you want to aim. So you have to ask: do you know what your desired business outcomes are (and does everyone agree)?

Let’s look at an example: I was working with a company that wanted to implement training on a new complaints reporting procedure for their medical product. But why? Did they want it to reduce their liability so if they were audited they could produce a careful log of every complaint and outcome? Or did they want to gather usable feedback in order to improve the product?

These two different goals would require targeting different behaviors, meaning unless we were clear on which one we wanted from the start, we could have made an engaging and relatable training that simply didn’t work.

2. Outline the behaviorally-driven barriers
Especially for larger initiatives, training is often only part of a larger solution. Sometimes in addition to training, there are structural, procedural, environmental or personnel changes that need to happen in order to hit your target. So once you know your desired business outcome, outline all the barriers that you need to overcome in order for you to reach it. From there, identify which of those barriers are behaviors that you can target through training.

For instance, let’s say that medical company decided to target reduced liability via their complaints reporting procedure. They might come up with a list of barriers like:

  1. The current reporting process is difficult and lengthy
  2. Employees don’t report complaints when they hear them
  3. Employees don’t include the most useful information when reporting complaints
  4. Employees don’t use the formal process for reporting complaints

Let’s review which of these barriers training can address.

Training can’t create a simpler process for you, which means it’s not worth aiming for the first blocker. But we can use training to give employees the knowledge, skills, and motivation to report complaints, include the right information, and use the formal process (blockers 2, 3 and 4). Now we have an even stronger sense of which behaviors to target.

3. Prioritize the behaviors that will drive the most results
Even once you’ve found the areas where training can have an impact, you can still refine your scope. For instance, if you have limited resources, or you don’t want to overload your learners with too much training (please!), you’ll have to prioritize your most important needs.

Let’s say our medical company from earlier identified the three behaviors that they wanted to target in order to reduce their liability from customer complaints:

  1. They want employees to report complaints
  2. The want employees to report the most useful information
  3. They want employees to report using the formal process

The most important thing is for people to file the reports at all, since if they’re not filing reports then how they report is a moot point. That means the first target behavior is also our first priority. And to prioritize further, it’s useful to go back to the target.

Initially, we identified that it’s more important for the reporting to have all the necessary information than for the information to be the most useful for product improvements. So the company’s second priority should be behavior three (using the formal process). We can de-prioritize behavior number two (including the most useful information) for a later date.

Now that we’ve gone through the process, we can be confident that the initiative we plan and launch will actually have the intended impact, and won’t just be superficial bells and whistles without any results.

How does this focus on business outcomes feed into the Grovo Library?

At Grovo, we focus on behavior change. But not just any behavior change. We focus on targeting the right behaviors to achieve outcomes that can have meaningful impact on businesses. We want to help you do the same, so that the resources you put into your learning initiatives get the results you need.

To learn more about Microlearning strategy and how you can use it to target your business outcomes, download our white paper, Microlearning: The Modern Strategy for the Modern Workplace.