surveyor-20092_640Aligning training with strategic objectives has been a hot topic in the training community for as long as I’ve been in this field. But, what does that really mean and how do you do it?

A strategic objective is simply put a goal. Examples of organizational goals, or strategic objectives, could include improving market standing, being known for innovation, increasing sales, improving community involvement, or cutting costs.

Whatever the goal, an organization needs to employ tactics to achieve it. Examples of organizational tactics could include launching a new product, selling through a new channel, changing roles or responsibilities, investing in new facilities, equipment or software, or expanding into a new market.

Tactics are where training comes into play. Training teaches employees any new knowledge or skills they need to implement the tactics. Examples of training that supports tactics could include learning how to sell a new product, use new software, or operate new equipment.

To make sure that the training you offer supports tactics, ask management the following four questions.

What to Ask Why
What is the organization’s goal for this coming fiscal year? The answer helps you understand what the organization is trying to achieve with the tactics it chooses to employ.
What tactics do you plan to employ to achieve this goal? The answer tells you what tactics the organization might need training to support.
Who will be involved in implementing these tactics? The answer reveals potential learners who may need to participate in training.
What new knowledge and/or skills do you anticipate they will need to implement these tactics? The answer provides a high level view of the training needed to support the organization in achieving its strategic objective. Of course, you’ll need to perform an in depth needs assessment to develop a specific training plan. But, the answer to this question gives you the starting point for that assessment.

You can then develop training that teaches the new knowledge and skills required to implement the tactics. This is how you align training with strategic objectives.

See this article on ASTD’s Learning & Development blog.