Most employers acknowledge the importance of employee training. Improving productivity, decreasing liabilities, boosting ROI, and building morale are just a few of the benefits that effective training can yield in your organization.

However, not all learning opportunities are created equal. Applying the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting method can help you ensure that employees achieve optimal training results.

What is S.M.A.R.T.?

The S.M.A.R.T. acronym evolved in the 1980’s as a means of defining and planning for goals within organizations and businesses.

Each letter stands for different goal-setting criteria:

  • Specific: Target specific areas for improvement.
  • Measurable: Quantify indicators of progress.
  • Attainable: Ensure that goals are possible with the given circumstances and resources.
  • Realistic: State what results can realistically be achieved.
  • Time-bound: Specify when results can be achieved.

Let’s examine how you can apply these concepts to your employee training.

Target Specific Training Goals

Focusing on specific goals centered on a main objective will make your training more effective. Ask yourself exactly what you are hoping to accomplish and what (if any) issues need to be addressed.

Then, narrow down your answers to goals that are as tangible and specific as possible.

Avoid the use of overly broad goals such as “help employees understand new HR requirements.” Instead, identify precise goals such as “explain HR’s policy on sick leave and new rules on requesting time off without advance notice.”

Define Measurable Success Metrics

Once your goals are clearly defined, it’s time to develop clear metrics that help you measure the success of your training.

Use benchmarks that will help you evaluate whether employees are able to understand and synthesize what they are learning.

Ideally, you should evaluate employees before, during, and after training to develop a clear picture of their progression.

This may take the form of surveys, quizzes, discussion, or performing relevant tasks.

Create Opportunities for Achievement

To avoid frustration or boredom during training, provide opportunities for your employees to demonstrate what their newfound knowledge or skills.

Some common means of helping employees express what they are learning are:

  • Group discussion
  • Quizzes or worksheets
  • Individual or group presentations
  • Hands-on application of training in a project or task.

Creating opportunities like these helps employees tangibly demonstrate their progress, as well as identify areas where further training is needed.

Furthermore, the use of basic rewards such as verbal praise or small prizes can help provide positive reinforcement.

Keep Your Efforts Relevant

Avoid generalizing the content or application in employee training. Emphasizing the most practical and applicable information is an efficient use of time and resources.

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The more relevant and useful your employees feel their training is, the more they may be inclined to give their full attention.

At the beginning of each learning period, outline the exact topics that will be covered and identify ways that your employees can benefit from applying their training in the workplace.

During any Q&A sessions, work to steer employees toward relevant discussion specific to the training and its implications.

Work Towards Timely Results

There are few things more frustrating to employees than seemingly endless training sessions. These are often the result of poor planning or ill-defined goals.

Ideally, trainers should have ample time to assess the necessary areas of training, the existing knowledge of your employees, and the best channels of learning for your organization’s needs.

Ensuring that everyone feels their time is being respected can create a more positive learning atmosphere and help employees be more receptive to training content.

By adequately preparing in advance, each training session should be as concise and time-efficient as possible.

How Can S.M.A.R.T. Improve Your Employee Training?

According to a study in 2011, individuals who used S.M.A.R.T. techniques became able to complete tasks earlier and with more enjoyment.

They were also able to revise their goals in keeping with evolving information, saw better results in team members’ performance, and produced higher quality work.

If improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of your employee training is your goal, then S.M.A.R.T. techniques can help you achieve these results.

How Has S.M.A.R.T. Helped You?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Mercy Ehrler
Mercy Ehrler has been marketing for corporate learning and development organizations for over 15 years. As Director of Marketing for MicroTek, Mercy helps shape the company’s internal and external positioning of Next Generation Classroom solutions. Her extensive background in the training industry has provided her with an opportunity to understand the unique needs of training organizations. Through the company blog, articles, ebooks and other other educational content, MicroTek helps clients achieve their training goals, manage costs and above all, improve the learning experience.
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