Designing Effective Objectives for Your Training

Instructional Designers are tasked with designing training objectives that influence operational effectiveness. Ensuring that those objectives are strong and business-centered is the foundation for organizational success.

To build your foundation, ask these questions.

1. What are the accomplishments that define exemplary performance?
2. What are the requirements for exemplary performance?
3. What are the standards that make up exemplary performance?

It might seem pretty simple, but it’s not always the case…Let’s explore. Is it an accomplishment, and not just a description of a behavior? Describe performance objectives as accomplishments, avoiding behavioral terms.

  • Can we observe the thing we described when not actually observing the performer or when the performer has gone away?
  • An example of an accomplishment could be a list of sales prospects.

Do those assigned to the performance goal have primary control over it? Or does good performance principally depend on others?

  • If there are external factors that affect the outcome, it cannot be an effective objective.
  • Drill down the performance objective to maintain control.

Is it a true overall performance objective or just a sub-goal?

  • A performance objective is just the overarching objective of a goal – if we can ascribe more than one goal to a role, they are sub-goals.
  • Does perfect execution equate to perfect performance? Would anything more be desired by the performer?

Can this objective be reconciled with other goals of the institution? Or is it incompatible with them?

  • Does proper completion of the goal enable other goals to be completed effectively?

Can a number be put on it? Can it be measured?

  • Does something observable/measurable remain after the performer has left for the day?
  • Examples of observable measures include: errors detected, the average time to complete the task, list of contacts, completed widgets, etc.

When developing objectives, remember ACORN:

  • Accomplishments should be the focus, not behaviors
  • Control – ensure the individual has control over the factors contributing to the success
  • Overall Performance Objective – ensure it is a goal and not a sub-goal
  • Reconcile – ensure objective aligns with other organizational objectives
  • Number – ensure that a number can be assigned so that progress can be measured

Reference: Gilbert T. F. (2007). Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance, Tribute Addition. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.