performance based training
Training & Learning

How to Add Business Value to Every Training Session

What does business value mean to your company? 

The answer depends on the goals and values of your organization. 

If your shareholders primarily care about profits, the business value can be defined by how much money your company will make from a new initiative, how a project will help increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, and the overall return on the investment. 

Other companies may define business value in projects that align with their corporate responsibility goals, such as sustainability and wellness.

You can also find business value through employees, measured by their productivity, how much they contribute to the company, and their ability to collaborate with other employees.

So what does this all mean for your training strategy? To derive the most value from training sessions, managers need to be clear about what business value means to their organization and keep it at the forefront of every performance-based training session to achieve optimal results. 

Steps to adding business value to your training session

Step 1: Align training content to core business goals

Training can be expensive, and it's easy to feel like it doesn't have the desired impact you initially hoped for. By aligning with your business goals, it is a foolproof way to make sure that every performance based training session positively impacts your company, even if it doesn't feel like the impact is quantifiable. 

Before you get started, it is critical to identify and review your core business goals. If you don't have the goals documented already, pull together an executive team or a group of interested employees from different departments (including people from sales, marketing, and HR) and gather their input. Once you've created a list of broad goals for the year or quarter, enhance them by making them SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

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Now you can work with experts in each department to outline the training content that will help employees reach those business goals—these are the skills they'll need to acquire to carry out each goal successfully. After all, a well-trained team is a company's biggest asset. Learning quickly and adapting to change keeps your company competitive in an ever-changing marketplace.

The process of creating training materials can sound daunting. But don't let it stress you out. Focus on aligning your training content to the core business goals for optimal results. Leverage a team of experts to help brainstorm, develop, and finalize the training materials. This step can be time-intensive, but if done correctly, you can establish a robust performance-based training framework that can be updated and reused for years to come.

Understanding your business value is just the tip of the iceberg. When creating training materials, it is critical to define how you will measure the success of your training. Otherwise, how will you know if your materials or training sessions effectively achieve your goals? 

It would help if you defined how you will evaluate results over time using appropriate metrics such as key performance indicators (KPI). KPIs should include quantitative measurements (e.g., sales revenue, conversion rates, turnover, productivity) and qualitative measurements (e.g., customer feedback, customer and employee satisfaction). They should also be the indicators that your stakeholders are held accountable for—not just ‘vanity metrics’.

You mustn't only focus on short-term or one-off results. For example, there might be a spike in sales following the implementation of a data pipeline to capitalize on timely customer insights. However, this uptick is not sustainable if the sales team doesn't know how to build long-term relationships with customers. 

When creating training materials, it is critical to define how you will measure the success of your training.

Step 2: Decide on the methods for training delivery

A key part of creating a performance-based training program is deciding how you'll deliver the information. Finding the proper training method is essential to creating a thriving learning environment. 

Sadly, most organizations' average training course completion rate is quite low, hovering around 20-30%. It is clear that traditional, top-down courses are not the most effective delivery method and lack serious engagement. Taking a more interactive approach based on collaborative learning can help combat low engagement, and therefore give your training the best shot at affecting key performance indicators. 

Collaborative learning is a process where employees help each other learn new skills and build on their existing knowledge; when training in a group, each person's unique talents, ideas, and institutional expertise enhance the experience for everyone.

collaborative learning
Collaborative learning is bottom-up, based on peer learning and decentralization.

Step 3: Anticipate differences across teams

You can't expect stellar results with a one-size-fits-all training approach. It is crucial to understand your audience and customize performance-based training sessions to meet their needs.

Sales reps are always looking for new and improved ways to drive sales. Take Breadcrumbs, for example. Their marketing team created an online knowledge base called Revenuepedia for everything you need to know about Revenue Acceleration, tailored specifically for the sales team. The quick, online access to this training is perfect for traveling sales reps that don't have the time to sit in on lengthy instructor-led training sessions. It’s also an excellent example of peer-driven learning.

Regardless of your audience, make your training sessions attention-grabbing to help employees stay focused and retain information. It is beneficial to use inspirational short stories to create personal connections and help motivate workers and drive the best results. 

Step 4: Communicate your objectives outside of the training session

Sometimes getting all employees to align on the same objective is like herding cats. It is helpful to communicate your objectives and key results (OKR) ahead of the training session, which can be as simple as a pre-training email or Zoom meeting. 

Explaining the benefits of achieving these OKRs helps your team understand how their participation in training contributes to the business's overall success, especially when the training goals are tied directly to core business goals.

By setting your team up for success, you have a better chance of making sure everyone gets on board and can add more value to each training session moving forward.

Also, make sure your training is realistic and valuable for day-to-day business functions. Employees will gladly join training sessions to help improve inefficiencies or bottlenecks in their daily workflow.

For example, accounting and finance team members will be thrilled and eager to learn how to use the new drag and drop website builder that software engineering rolled out to create custom financial reports in a few simple clicks. The training would let them part ways with the old, tedious task of generating manual reports in Excel that are error-prone, a waste of precious time, and a drain on employee morale. 

Step 5: Get feedback and adapt your approach accordingly

As you implement your training program and time goes on, make sure to listen to feedback from participants and stakeholders to improve the delivery method and content continually. 

Leverage knowledge checks at the end of each training session to gather insight into how your trainees are doing. To keep learners excited and ensure they grasp the essential concepts, use a wide variety of question types like multiple choice or switch it up by creating custom illustrations and have users click on the correct answer in the image.

performance based training question types
360Learning has many different types of questions to support your performance-based training.

It is crucial to keep an eye out for any remaining questions or confusion after the training session. Questions help indicate that additional training may be required or current material needs to be tweaked for better results. Don't forget to gather feedback on the delivery method. Keeping employees engaged and happy is the recipe for success.

You should also check in with department heads, managers, and other key stakeholders a few weeks later to get their perspective on how performance-based training is impacting business value. What's been working well and showing results? What isn't working as well as expected? Do they have any suggestions for improvement? Listen carefully and incorporate their feedback into upcoming programs.

Step 6: Measure KPIs and the impact on core business goals

Measuring training effectiveness is an important task for any learning and development team. After all, how can you improve if you don't know how effective your training is? 

Luckily, plenty of different key performance indicators (KPIs) will give you a good idea of how well your training programs are working. Here are some of the best KPIs to track if you want to keep tabs on your training. 

Employee turnover rates

An increase in employee turnover can indicate dissatisfaction with employee performance or lack of proper training by management; both are essential factors for success.

Employee engagement and satisfaction

This information can signify success or point toward a concern regarding staff morale and the impact on overall productivity output.

Sales

If sales are declining, consider if your training sessions are too time-consuming, pulling the sales team away from their core job. Or, are they providing the most relevant training that addresses critical points of failure?

Customer churn

A reduction in customer churn can help you understand the positive impact of your training with customer-facing teams.

Leads

An increase in leads indicates that marketing teams are successfully implementing new strategies into their marketing campaigns.

Wrapping up

Training sessions add more business value when they are performance-based. The key is for managers to be strategic and transparent in their goals and approach. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to training sessions. 

Determine what business goals you are hoping to achieve and break these goals into specific training sessions. It can be something as simple as sales training or something more complex like implementing new accounting software. 

Whatever the training may be, take the time to do it right. Adapt to your audience. Make the material interactive and engaging. Ensure your employees feel like every training is worth their time, helps with professional development, and clearly articulates the value it adds to the business.