Training measurement scares a lot of HR and L&D professionals - too many in our opinion. We believe that training should be held to the same standards as every other important business function.
Based upon over 800 training measurement projects, we know that there are proven and effective ways to track the effect training has had on participants through changes in their behavior and performance on the job.
The problem, however, is that too many training initiatives are not aligned with or linked to the performance of the business. And if the desired outcome of the training cannot be expressed in performance or business terms, it is very difficult to measure the impact of training in a way that matters.
Here are a few examples to get the point across.
Example #1: Sales Training.
Because sales performance metrics are usually clear and agreed to, sales training is one of the easiest training initiatives to measure effectively. Most often the business purpose of sales training is to significantly improve one of the following metrics: revenue, margin, win-rate, portfolio mix, sales cycle, DSO or customer satisfaction. The first step in any training measurement project is to identify the one or two metrics to move.
A recent client, based upon their overall company and sales strategy wanted to increase revenue by 20%. Once all stakeholders agreed to this success metric, we worked with the client to:
- Identify the critical few sales skills, behaviors, attitudes, scenarios and processes most correlated to revenue growth for their unique market, strategy and culture.
- Prioritize the specific sales skills gaps for those areas.
- Design and deliver a customized experiential sales training program focused on closing those specific gaps.
- Provide sales performance coaching to all sales managers.
- Measure sales skill adoption and correlate it to revenue performance to answer the questions (1) Are they using it? (2) Is it making a difference? (3) What should we coach to going forward?
Training measurement enabled the client to correlate specific sales skills and approaches to revenue performance. This allowed the client to focus their sales coaching and training efforts directly to increasing revenue.
Example #2: New Manager Training
A recent client asked us to design and deliver a new manager training curriculum for their company. This is a common request from high growth organizations where many who have been promoted based upon their technical skills as individual contributors find it difficult to effectively lead others.
We said that we would be glad to help and asked about the business drivers and objectives behind the request. After a few discussions with her and her team, we uncovered that engagement and retention of top talent was becoming an issue. They wanted to decrease attrition by 15% for their most strategic and critical roles and a group of 50 high potentials.
Based upon surveying over 500,000 employees per year with our employee engagement survey,
we know that managers can have a direct impact on four metrics (1) Performance (2) Engagement (3) Retention (4) Employee Relations. Once all the stakeholders agreed that employee engagement and retention mattered most, we worked with the client to:
- Measure employee engagement
- Assess manager performance across 20 key areas directly related to managerial effectiveness
- Prioritize the specific managerial skills gaps for those areas
- Design and deliver a customized experiential new manager training program focused on closing those specific gaps
- Provide performance coaching to all Senior Managers
- Re-measure employee engagement and managerial effectiveness
Training measurement enabled the client to correlate specific manager skills and approaches to employee engagement and retention. This allowed the client to focus their coaching and management training efforts directly to engaging and retaining top talent.
Whenever possible, there should be substantial changes in the pre- and post-metrics of any training initiative. Would you run a business any differently?