Tuesday, June 28, 2016

5 Steps to Measure the Business Impact of Training

a man stands on a graphic if business plans with a giant question mark

When you wonder about how much of an impact your training is having on the business, why not measure it? 

Simple solution…but too many mistakenly believe that training measurement for business impact is too difficult, time consuming or even impossible when all of the potential variables are considered. In fact our latest quarterly training measurement poll found that 40% of respondents did not know how to measure the impact of training and another 31% thought it was too difficult.

The good news is that skill adoption and business impact can be measured.   And, when training measurement is designed and applied correctly, it is well worth the investment as an exposure, reinforcement and coaching vehicle. You, too, can track how well your training is meeting business goals by following five fundamental principles of how to do training measurement right:

  1. Remember it’s all about the business.
    Begin with a clear view of the business goals, challenges and needs. Your training measurement effort needs to be inextricably linked to important business outcomes. So smile sheets are out except as a way to show that training has taken place and met the minimum quality standards. For example, if you intend to improve sales performance by boosting the solution and consultative selling skills of your sales team through targeted sales training and follow-on coaching, you need to measure actual on-the-job adoption of the desired sales skills and behaviors and correlate them to the sales metrics that matter most (e.g. revenue, margin, win rate, portfolio mix, deal size, or sales cycle)

  2. Gain the support and involvement of senior management.
    Establish that business and learning objectives and success metrics are aligned with the participants, their bosses and the business as a whole.  Then ensure that all three stakeholders agree on how to track progress toward those success metrics.

  3. Gather evidence that you are moving in the right direction.
    You need to see that the training is helping to make progress toward the desired success metrics. Monitor both adoption levels and impact so you know if, after implementation, you are moving in the right direction. Then you can better identify what additional levers to pull.

  4. Make judicious use of data already collected.
    Chances are you may not need to launch an all-out measurement project. If you can carefully select a few key performance indicators that are linked to a performance development initiative, you may have your answers already. Look for data already being used at the executive level to make business decisions.

  5. Keep measurement simple and meaningful.
    Training measurement can be both meaningful and simple when you understand the difference between leading and lagging indicators. Think of lagging indicators as the effect.  Think of leading indicators as the cause. So if you were to measure revenue as the result of sales performance in the field, it would be a lagging indicator. The leading indicators of revenue typically include sales and marketing activities in the pre-sale, sale and post-sales phases related to planning, prospecting, making introductions, analyzing needs, qualifying, positioning, articulating solutions, presenting, negotiating, closing, and follow-up.

Measure the impact of training to track and measure business results, to drive accountability for execution and to provide focused, relevant and actionable feedback for coaching.

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