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Organizational training: The what, why, and how

August 13, 2021 - 20 min read


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What is organizational training?

What is the purpose of organizational training?

What are the best practices in training and development?

The effects of organizational training

How to select and start an organizational training program

Invest in organizational training and development

Effective training within a company can be one of its biggest challenges.

How do you make sure everyone knows what they need to know to do their jobs well today? 

How do you make sure employees are improving their skills and getting new ones for tomorrow?

How do you make sure employees know what is important to the company about what they do and how they do it?

This can be especially challenging when your company is evolving and onboarding new employees. The number of employees that make up your team comes with its own challenges.

To keep your organization relevant, investing in an organizational training program is likely part of the strategy. Change is inevitable. For an organization to achieve long-term success, its team members need to constantly learn and adapt.

With the right approach, your company can foster people who perform well. And, your employees are more likely to stay around long enough to become great at what they do.

We'll cover everything on organizational training and how to create an effective program.

What is organizational training?

Organizational training is the process of transferring knowledge within an organization.

This type of training focuses on developing employees for their current jobs. But it also prepares them for future roles and responsibilities.

Through organizational training, employees can develop new skills. Organizational training is also used to teach employees about the specific systems, processes, and tools the organization uses. 

Usually, training and organizational development fall under human resources.

Successful training courses give employees the tools and knowledge to support a company's business objectives.

This is done through different types of training programs. Which can be anything from onboarding training sessions to technical skills development and work practices. For example, a large company might offer training in using spreadsheets and how to complete performance reviews. It might also require training in the company's information security practices.

It’s important to note that organizational training and organizational coaching are different. Although they sound similar, they serve different purposes.

Organizational coaching is about enhancing knowledge and skills. It focuses on fostering positive transformation through culture change and enhanced leadership.


Organizational training is about the transferral of knowledge. It’s learning-focused rather than development-focused.

Organizational skills training is most often structured and formal. Content is pre-defined and delivered on a schedule.  Depending on the need, the skills transferred may be technical, organizational, or contextual.

Organizational training is unique because the whole organization learns from the same experience. The content isn't personalized. It isn’t just an individual people manager or employee learning something new. The knowledge is transferred to the organization as a whole.

What is the purpose of organizational training?

So why exactly do companies need organizational training?

For starters, developing employees benefits the whole organization. And, most employees or potential employees say that they want access to professional development and training. Finally, people like to feel competent and know what is expected of them in their work. Organizational training can help.

Harvard Business Review confirms what’s been shown time and time again. What’s good for people is good for the organizations in which they work.

When companies offer opportunities for employees to receive relevant professional development, this positively impacts organizational performance. It also benefits customer satisfaction and even the revenue and profits generated by a company.

Organizations that take the approach of achieving better company performance through training focus on making sure employees have the skills, information, and tools to perform well and progress.

Through organizational training programs, employees can effectively perform their jobs. By gaining the right skills, employees stay relevant and are more able to take on new work challenges. They may also be motivated to seek self-growth.

When combined with other programs that support personal growth and transformation, organizations can expect higher employee retention. Employees being good at their job leads to greater job satisfaction.

In turn, better employee performance enhances organization development and productivity.

The purpose of training is to create a culture of learning within an organization. It ensures that employees continue to develop beyond just traditional skills training.

What are the best practices in training and development?

So, for organizational training to be successful, what does it involve?

Now that you know the reasons behind having one, let’s look at four steps you should take to get the most out of an organizational training program:

1. Identify the need for the organizational training program

First thing’s first — why do you need an organizational training program in the first place?

Naturally, there are benefits of a training and development program. But you need to have a clear idea of what you want your organization to get out of the training.

Identify the training needs by assessing the skills needed in order to meet your organization’s objectives.

For example, your training program could be aimed at developing employees’ technical skills.  This kind of training will ensure everyone uses the right technology effectively.

The need for training will determine the framework. For example, an employee orientation will look different from a safety training session.

Remember, just because your employees want learning, growth, and development doesn't necessarily mean that an organizational training program is the right answer.

Organizational training is best-suited for delivering standardized content to a lot of people. 

2. Align with management’s goals

Managers are responsible for setting goals that align with organizational objectives. For this reason, it’s important that their goals line up with the goals of the training program.

Based on management's goals, develop the training so that it targets the needs of the business.

For example, a management goal could be to enhance communication amongst teams. Based on this, the training program could revolve around effective communication skills training.

3. Use different formats: not all employees learn the same way

Unfortunately, formal training can often come across as boring and unnecessary.

When planning your organizational training program, use different types of employee training methods. This will help all of those involved to really digest the new information.

Different people benefit from the seven different learning styles.

Try to incorporate different types of learning styles into your training. For example, make use of online training that relies on online videos for visual learners. Kinesthetic learners will benefit from hands-on training.

4. Make a note of results

It's important to keep track of the results of the training. If your training isn’t having the effects on the organization you’d hoped for, it’s time to make some changes.


To determine the results, refer to the objectives of the program. Have these objectives been met? Have employees developed their skills? Has this positively impacted organizational performance?

To better gauge the results, ask your employees for feedback. They’ll appreciate having their voice heard.

The effects of organizational training

An organizational training program can positively affect your organization. Let’s take a look at how:

Employees feel empowered

Feeling empowered at work is something all employees should strive toward. Unfortunately, without the proper training, this can be difficult.

How can employees feel in control when they don’t have the right skills to perform their jobs efficiently?

Through organizational training, teams can perform to the best of their ability. Having the right tools gives employees the freedom to creatively problem-solve and take control. They feel empowered to make positive changes.

You have higher employee engagement

Regular development initiatives can help keep employees motivated and engaged.

Organizational training programs are designed with the employees in mind. When employees realize the training is an investment in their education, they’ll feel more engaged.

Providing employees with learning opportunities doesn’t just build capable, confident employees. Research shows that learning and development is a key driver of engagement.

Employees have greater company loyalty

Through empowerment and increased engagement comes loyalty. Investing in employee learning and development shows employees they are valued.

When people feel valued, they’re less likely to leave an organization. Employees that develop professionally and personally are committed to their organization.

And satisfied employees will reduce turnover.

You attract the best talent

Organizational training improves rates of talent attraction as well as retention. When potential employees see the opportunities to develop their careers, they’ll want to be a part of that company.

Investing in organizational development is a show of commitment to your employees.

You're committing to their professional and personal development. It gives your company a competitive advantage in the recruitment of new hires.

How to select and start an organizational training program

It can be hard to know what training program is right for your organization. Let’s walk through six steps to help you get started:

1. Define the training program objectives based on organizational needs

Before you choose an organizational training program, set the objectives. You’ll want to choose a program that addresses the needs of the company.

The objectives of the program will determine the setting and nature of the training.

Certain skills are best taught through in-class training experiences, such as informal mentoring. More technical skills will need more formalized training, such as workshops and seminars.

2. Ask employees for input

Who better to ask for input on the program than your employees? After all, they're the ones who will benefit from the program.

Employees are a great source of information about organizational performance and needs.

Listen to your employees on how they’d like to benefit from the training program. Employee surveys are a great way to get the information you need.


Ask for input from your teams to identify any skill gaps. Encourage openness and ask your employees to be open with what skill they’d like to develop.  

This could be anything from software training to improving their self-management.

Once you have the input from all your team members, consolidate the information. Analyze the data to determine what are the greatest needs of your organization right now.

3. Collect knowledge from within the organization

Depending on the reason for training, someone outside the company may lead the program.

But, keep in mind that organizational knowledge is invaluable. It may be just what you need for effective organizational training.

Gather all the knowledge contained within an organization that can provide business value. This can be product knowledge, intellectual property, or processes and procedures. A great example of this type of knowledge exchange is peer-to-peer learning.

4. Transfer the knowledge via the training program

Once you’ve decided on the knowledge and skills to be taught, it’s time to decide on how best to transfer this knowledge.

There are plenty of types of training programs to choose from. It’s all about which program will work for your organization and what the objectives of the training are.

Depending on the time and resources, the program could be one of the following:

  • Hands-on training

  • Instructor-led training

  • eLearning

  • Lectures
  • Self-directed learning

5. Make it part of your company culture

An organization with a learning culture encourages continuous learning. Constant learning develops an individual as an employee and as a person. This opens opportunities for the organization to grow continuously for the better.

Make organizational training part of your company culture. Focus on the achievements that have been a result of the training.

Celebrate your employees when they complete the training. Point out what this means for their growth opportunities.

Make training part of your culture by embedding it into the organizational appraisal review. This is typically where development needs and appropriate training options are identified.

6. Measure effectiveness

It’s important to assess the effectiveness of your organizational training program. Refer to the original program objectives to judge if the program has been a success.


Were the objectives met? Why or why not? What can be done for the next program to improve?

Because of rapid changes in technology, there’s always a need to adopt the latest ideas. Keep innovating and adapting your organizational training programs. This will ensure that your employees and company maintain their competitive edge.

Invest in organizational training and development

In a constantly changing world, it’s important to develop your employees’ skills and knowledge. Teams need to be able to adapt to whatever situation they’re presented with.

Regardless of the industry, organizational training is part of any learning and development strategy for a company to thrive. Through knowledge transfer, organizations can enhance their competitive advantage and increase efficiency.

Employees that receive organizational training grow both professionally and personally. They’re encouraged to stretch themselves, which accelerates business growth.

Get in touch with BetterUp to learn how personalized growth and development can help your team members reach more of their potential and get more out of your organizational training investment.

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Published August 13, 2021

Shonna Waters, PhD

Vice President of Alliance Solutions

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