Can Businesses and Trainers Learn to Speak the Same Language?

ID-100105902Business Language vs. Training Language

How do you make others understand you if you don’t speak their language? I don’t mean your native tongue. I mean business language vs. training language.

In our field, trainers explain the value of training in learning objectives. A learning objective describes exactly what a student will learn from a training lesson. They explain in detail what a learner will know or be able to do after training is complete.

That concept seems simple enough, but learning objectives sometimes don’t translate well into business language. Which leads us to the question: How do businesses describe training objectives? Many times, organizations think in terms of business goals. They tend to describe things in concrete terms like time, numbers, and dollars.

How Do Businesses Talk About Training

Business managers typically approach the training team due to a perceived business need. To use an oversimplified example, a business may know they have an order to make X widgets by a certain date for a new customer. They know they don’t have enough current employees to make the needed number of widgets by the deadline. That business need may be translated to the trainer as “We need X number of new employees trained to make widgets.”

Business managers think in terms of performance and typically request training based on the subject they think they need training on. Trainers think in terms of learning goals and objectives and communicate with the manager in these terms. The training outcome envisioned by these two stakeholders is rarely the same because they do not speak the same language!

Trainers have rarely been taught how to speak in the business terms common to business managers. Most trainers don’t know how to collaborate with the business manager and discuss, in business terms, how to address the problem. Having worked with hundreds of companies, I rarely see trainers who are well versed in determining what metric indicates success or verifying that an improvement in performance will impact the metric.

Metrics—The Key to Speaking the Same Language

That means metrics are the keys to getting both sides—business and training—to speaking the same language. The trainer must learn how to translate business needs into metrics that can be measured. The business must learn how to describe metrics in relation to training. This will help the trainer create a training plan that will teach the skill needed to improve the metric, which will in turn provide the measurement businesses need to evaluate the business value of training.

Have you ever noticed a mismatch in language between trainers and managers? Did that result in disappointed expectations on either side during a training event? Or worse, did it result in training that did not achieve a desired objective? Tell us in the comments.

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