by Prem

Training goals are a powerful training tool. I wrote about this in another post. I looked through a lot of training offers and have to admit that this tool is being completely unused. Most coaches know that the training goals need to be formulated and they do fulfill the obligation. However, I have the impression that it happens primarily because of the textbox in the promotional form, which has to be filled out with something. Let’s have a look at the three most frequently committed mistakes.

Mistake #1 – Presenting the training scope instead of the training goals

Here is a sample text, which is located under the ’Training Goals’ heading in one of the training descriptions: ’The Autopresentation training participants learn how to minimize the stage fright, how to select the attire and how to behave appropriately to the place and type of a presentation, and to the expectations of the audience. Moreover, the Autopresentation training program also includes learning how to compose speeches, how to catch and keep the listeners’ attention. The following topics are important: body language, voice modulation, using rhetorical figures, effective and efficient closing. Join our training.’

The very expression ’learn’ instead of ’will master’ or better ’after the training will be able to’ suggests that the training goal is learning, not getting learned. Typical school approach. Do we not tell the students (unfortunately!), why they are learning the fractions? At school, learning is not the goal itself, but in adult life learning must have a practical meaning (purpose). Instead, however, we have a scope described here, and even the course of the training. Ok, it is equally important, but where is this leading me (as a training participant)? Who am I going to be after this training? What will I gain thanks to it? The goal is the end result, not the process that leads to this effect. If this, my dear coach, is how you formulate the training goals, how do you fill out the scope textbox then? With the same? What, then, in this very example, could be the goal, that is the end result? Let’s take a look at the goal as follows: ’After the training, you will successfully carry out a professional autopresentation without a stage fright.’ Thus formulating a goal, you set a motivating endpoint to the training participants. From now on, everyone knows where they are going, and you can deal with the scope and the best training technique to achieve the goal.

Educational habits are evident in the behavior of coaches who copy a donnish approach. At school the most important thing is the ’scope of the material’, which you, dear student, must master. It doesn’t matter why. The purpose is not important. So says the manual (the curriculum), period! You are to learn it. Unaware of it, we use these fixed habits in adulthood.

Mistake #2 – Taking the perspective of a coach rather than the perspective of the trainee

This is one of the most commonly made mistakes. The coach usually formulates the training goal from their own perspective, for example: ’The training goal is to familiarize the participants with the changes regarding the complaint claims.’ I understand it is important for the coach what he will be doing during the training (’familiarazing the participants’), but how does it matter to the participants? It doesn’t. If we take the perspective of a participant, this goal might read as follows: ’Thanks to the training, the participants will know and be able to apply in practice the up-to-date rules on complaint claims.’ It is interesting that even in so called ’soft’ training run by coaches specializing in communication, teamwork and psychological competence, there are often selfish goals focused on the coach perspective, rather than on the needs and objectives of the participants. This reminds me of the scene from school, when the omniscient teacher presented the lessons subject like this: ’Analysis and interpretation of the poem by Juliusz Slowacki…’ and then they would carry out the analysis and interpretation on their own, because why on earth (the goal) would we, the students, be supposed to do it? All we had to do was to memorize the presented interpretation. At school, the ’master’ teacher’s perspective is more important than the student’s one, because after all, it is the ’master’ who knows better and it is all about keeping their (the master’s) authority.

Mistake #3 – Limiting the goals to the level of knowledge

Here is an example of the goal from the training of coaching: ’This training aims to provide the knowledge necessary to implement and carry out coaching as a development method.’ I am ignoring the mistakes regarding the coach perspective applied when formulating this goal, and the intricacies of the very wording which should not be suitable for someone who intends to carry out a training for future coaches, meaning they consider themselves to be an expert in the field. The problem I would like to point out here is fixing the goal on the level of knowledge. What is in it for me as a potential participant due to the fact that I would ’know’? Of course, I can answer myself, what comes out of it for me. However, the point is to use this powerful tool, which is the training goals, to consciously build commitment and motivation of the participants. Beside the knowledge we have yet another two levels which are mandatory to be included in the goals – these are the behavioral level and the level of results.

In this case, the goals might read as follows:

The knowledge level:

During the training you will gain the knowledge necessary to conduct coaching in your organization.

Behavioral level:

With this training you will be able to effectively conduct coaching meetings.

Level of the results:

This training will allow you to develop skills and to change the attitudes of your organization employees through the use of coaching.

In my opinion, the most motivating issue for the training participant is the behavioral level. If you want to select only one goal for your training, choose precisely the goal from the behavioral level. If you skip this level, you will make the trainees feel like they are in an elementary school, memorizing left and right tributaries of the Vistula River, having no idea why they are doing it.

Most of the mistakes we make when formulating the training goals are rooted in deeply imprinted habits being constantly strengthened over the years by our education system. Any change of habits requires realizing them first, and then consciously working on their change, which is my wish to all the coaches.

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