How to Write Training Objectives

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Every training course or program serves a purpose, whether it's to give employees a new skill, build upon skills they have or help them to understand corporate policies and rules. How well or poorly a program serves its purpose is measured by the degree to which employees learn what they need and managers can see the results. These measurements are what you need to consider when writing training objectives.

Think "ABCD"

Heinrich's ABCD model of writing training objectives is a common approach that's effective and easy to remember. "A" stands for the intended audience. "B" is for the behavior a student will exhibit if the class meets its goals. "C" is for the conditions or constraints that apply to the behavior. "D" is for the degree or measure expected to verify that the training was successful.


Define whom the training is targeting. Knowing your audience helps in determining the best training approach and materials. For instance, plant floor personnel might need physical demonstrations and hands-on learning opportunities, while a conference room slide show presentation may suffice for sales office personnel.


Describe the behavior students should exhibit after attending the training. Concentrate on action verbs, and make sure the behavior is specific and observable. For an example, with an objective of "Operate XYZ equipment according to instruction 123," the trainer or a plant floor supervisor can watch the operator following the course to validate that he is performing the task correctly. A sales office behavioral training objective could address completed work records, such as "Prepare quote packages that adhere to corporate specifications."


Explain the conditions under which the behavior should occur. A plant floor training class might have the objective of making sure students are able "to identify, move, handle and store hazardous materials in the work area in accordance with regulations." For sales personnel, a training objective could be ensuring that students can "apply communication and negotiation skills on the phone to improve call center customer satisfaction ratings."


To make objectives measurable, identify a quantifiable or numeric target -- for example, time, proportion or accuracy. The course on hazardous materials might target zero incidents of accidents and spills. The sales office class could target a percentage improvement in customer satisfaction ratings and would also identify the method of collecting and measuring those ratings.