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Graham Scrivener

Forum EMEA

Managing Director

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Why measuring the impact of training is absolutely essential

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Our research recently found that only 28% of the 388 people we polled globally collect and use data within the Learning and Development department to monitor and measure the impact of training. Twenty-three percent collate information but find it a cumbersome process and fail to do anything with it afterwards.

It's no surprise then to hear that around 50% of training is wasted1.

Why measure?

There are three good reasons to track and measure training and development:

1. It enables you to demonstrate the value of training at multiple levels, from learner satisfaction through to bottom line business results. 

2. You can use measurement as a tool for continuous improvement.  As Quality Management guru William Edwards Deming said, “You can’t manage it unless you can measure it.”

3. It's evidence to senior management of the success of training, the need to sustain development and highlights other ideas for improvement.

And with many proposed training budgets being reviewed later this year, now is a good time to start putting in place steps to monitor and measure the effect of learning and development on the business.

What leaders do that laggards don't

According to additional research we conducted2, when it comes to demonstrating the impact of training, there are certain things top performing organisations do that lagging companies don't.  Top performing companies treat measurement as part of the training solution and not a separate process. They involve key stakeholders before and after training to help devise the measurement plan and assess it against the goals of the organisation. They keep the process simple and as low cost as possible, and once data is compiled and reviewed, they use it to drive the programme forward to enhance and  improve training.

Be systematic

When devising a measurement plan it's best to take a systematic approach – one that demonstrates that behaviour has changed and is being sustained, and then evaluates and measures the impact this change has had on the business.

The first step is to hold a planning meeting with senior management to get their buy-in and align training with the corporate strategy.  Agree on expected outcomes from the training such as to increase performance, productivity and improve engagement.  Then decide who is accountable for what actions including tracking behaviour change and its influence on the business. Finally, agree how to report results back to stakeholders.

Next, use a system of learning that will sustain behaviour change in-line with agreed business outcomes. Survey participants and managers  during the training to check that the learning process is effective and efficient. Ensure learners are clear on how their new skills align with company goals and they know how to apply them in real life situations. 

According to research3, 70% of learning happens on the job. People often struggle to 'get it' on their own. So the third step is to survey participants and managers after training to check that behaviours have changed and new skills are being applied and developed. Without knowing this, it's difficult to demonstrate a link between learning and development and actual business outcomes.

Check that the right tools, training and support is in place to sustain learning such as by enabling participants to teach as well as train and by setting up learning communities with educational materials.

Now you have evidence that behaviour has changed and is being applied to the job, and new skills are being developed and maintained through a sustained learning culture. Use this data to shape learning and development and to review its impact, with senior management, against agreed business outcomes. Did we see an improvement in performance, productivity and engagement since training began? Do customers rate your service  better and has there been a subsequent change to the business bottom line?

But don't just stop there. Use this opportunity and data to discuss future plans for learning and development to help grow the company's leadership skills and to help deliver even better results for the business.

References:

1. According to benchmark data by Knowledge Advisors, publishers of web-based learning evaluation systems. KA's benchmark data is data they capture to establish trends and benchmarks.

2. Research by Forum – Sustaining Behaviour Change and Business Results: Lessons from the Leaders – http://www.forum.com/_assets/download/6e5c8c20-64be-487e-8cf1-aca8d0f09c3e.pdf

3. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) research, 1996, based on its original Lessons of Experience (LOE) research. 

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Graham Scrivener

Managing Director

Read more from Graham Scrivener
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