CEO of AllenComm since 2003.
Only according to a recent study 27% of organizations have a measurement strategy to determine the success of their training efforts. Does this percentage surprise anyone?
As a vendor hired to create training impact, I often wonder why many companies miss an opportunity to improve their training effectiveness and reap all the benefits of a well-developed learning and training program. At AllenComm, we’ve been privileged to see how measurement can be achieved with different levels of effort – from minimal input to more complex strategies. Our customers successfully use performance mapping as a best practice.
As explained later in this article, starting with performance mapping and building in measurement strategies, if done correctly, can lead to greater productivity, more flexibility, improved retention, and an enhanced learning experience. In addition, by combining performance mapping with governance around measurement, companies can not only demonstrate the impact of the training they deliver, but also collect critical data on how to improve their offerings.
So, what is performance mapping? Most simply defined, performance mapping is a process by which companies identify the necessary skills and employee behaviors (performance) and then link these to the behavioral outcomes (the map of skills) required to achieve business objectives.
For example, the key for many of our clients has been to train in behaviors that can be observed. Learning measures should be designed around desired employee behaviors with clear definitions of how these behaviors can affect business results. The tipping point for successful measurement is based on the definition of intrinsic and extrinsic data, factors that can be observed, and factors that your internal systems report on based on external evaluation.
How to Define Your Learning Measure: The Performance Mapping Process
Essentially, you must first determine the relationship between employee behavior and organizational results. This first step is critical because it shows you what needs to be measured, quantified and reported, and what skills should be included in your training program to improve outcomes.
Then isolate what you want to measure. When measuring learning, you can control for variables, just as you would in other disciplines. In this situation, you isolate for specific employee behaviors that improve results. Knowing this, training for that behavior can lead to an automatic return and show you areas for improvement.
Once you’ve isolated the behaviors you want, you can determine how you’re going to measure them, using either intrinsic or extrinsic measurements.
Intrinsic measures are usually self-reported by the individual or his environment. This includes, for example, data reported by employees and management. These are useful insights, but they may be affected by a preference for self-reporting and low survey participation. Extrinsic data can be reported points such as reduced call times at a customer service center, fewer complaints and/or escalations, less waste due to errors, and similar metrics. Many of our clients use Net Promoter Scores, sales data, compliance data and operational parameters in their extrinsic data.
Some organizations also find intrinsic data from their LMS (learning management systems) while going to enterprise systems like their CRM or business intelligence platforms for extrinsic data sets.
Challenges for L&D teams
Often organizations do not have processes in place to measure the impact of training. There are a number of understandable reasons why this may be the case.
For example, in some organizations, the learning and development (L&D) teams are in a silo away from other departments and the task of assessments. Or they think they don’t need to measure impact because it’s not part of what they do – designing, developing and maintaining learning courses – or is simply beyond their control.
In fact, they sometimes have no control over it due to variable factors that affect training. Those could be bigger issues around a bad manager or how the course is being taken by employees in their area. Additional issues may include employee motivation, previous experience and knowledge, and pay scales. Sometimes L&D is immediately transferred to other projects and they simply don’t have time to measure the impact while designing a new project.
However, there is a list of metrics that are a good starting point for your measurement initiatives.
What is the takeaway? When planning and creating a measurement strategy for your training, you can use these key indicators:
• Self-reported confidence.
• Completion rates.
• Productivity indicators per person or department.
• Time to competency (for example, to first sale).
• Number of customer service escalations, if any.
• Other measurements of errors and reduced incidents.
• Performance indicators, such as speed in a process measured by your organization.
What to do with training statistics
Once you’ve defined both behaviors and your metrics, you can create a governance model or metrics regimen and a baseline from which to measure your results over time. You can choose to repeat your measurements at regular intervals to determine the effect of the training.
These metrics and the resulting governance model can be used to determine which practices are working and which are not working, and to show improvements above the baseline over time. These training evaluation methods are valuable for improving training practices and demonstrating the ROI of your training.
Particularly useful is the model of integration of LMS systems with data and analytics collected from CRM systems (or ERP and MRP in some industries). Professionals in L&D departments can collaborate with people in operations to create cross-functional analytics that help both achieve their goals for organizational results.
It’s a good idea for business leaders to start any training initiative with a needs analysis and performance mapping. This can lead to a more effective training program. In addition, it is essential to create systems to measure the data and governance models to assess results over time, along with a process to integrate the data shared between teams to further advance the progress of training initiatives.