Applying Path-Goal Theory to Corporate Training

Path-goal theory is a system of leadership that emphasizes the setting and achieving of goals. Leaders use a path-goal approach because it's designed to increase employee motivation, empower team members and boost productivity. While this method is generally reserved for strengthening leaders, you can apply it to your company's training program - if path-goal theory can produce all those benefits, it's certainly welcome in a training setting. Here's a look at the theory's four chief formats and how you can apply them to your eLearning courseware and training program:


Leaders who use the achievement approach set high goals or standards for their employees to meet. For this approach to be successful, leaders must demonstrate confidence in their team's ability to overcome challenges, otherwise the high expectations could cause too much stress. When it comes to employee training programs, set the bar high. Create a list of goals you want employees to achieve and a time frame in which they should get them done. For instance, you might note that your team has a week to watch all their assigned eLearning courseware and that they'll have to have a meeting about what they learned at the end of that time. Make sure you express that this is an achievable goal, even if it seems like a short deadline.

Leadership tactics can apply to company training


The directive approach outlines specific goals for now and into the future. You might tell employees what you hope their training will accomplish down the road. For instance, watching eLearning videos about workplace safety could make the office a better place in which to work. Lay out how each video contributes to that overarching goal and what you expect employees to do after their training to support said goal.


When you use participative path-goal theory, you offer your employees a way to interact with your (or, in this case, their) training program. Have them leave suggestions, comment on videos or provide feedback in general. You may find they really like the course videos but wish they had more opportunities to put the information they learned into practice.


Sometimes leaders need to step back to support their employees. Training naturally falls into the realm of support, as such programs are meant to help employees develop their work-related skills. Make sure everyone can access the videos they must watch and has the assistance they need to put newly acquired skills into practice.

Numerous studies have tried to determine how effective path-goal theory is. One study published in Administrative Science Quarterly noted that path-goal theory "shows promise." Using the model  in your training program may help you figure out whether it works for you. You can learn more about eLearning courseware and how you can use it along with path-goal theory for training purposes by contacting our sales team.

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