So often, training is the fall guy when things aren’t going well.
“Our training is insufficient.”
“Our employees just haven’t been trained well enough.”
“We need more training!”
All of these may be true, but what often happens is oodles of resources are spent on new training or making existing training better, and when it’s all said and done it’s still not clear whether the training had much of an impact. Even if it did drive some improvement in the immediate aftermath, how do you know the improvements are for the long haul? And how do you know you can fully attribute them to the training?
When everything is subjective and qualitative, you can’t. You need to approach training the same way you approach any other business activity. It needs to demonstrably move the numbers. If you’re responsible for educating groups of people, it’s to your advantage to report up the ladder precisely how training has made a positive impact, and numbers are the universal language of the C-suite.
While each organization has success metrics unique to their industry and operations, many are universally useful:
- % new business over a period of time
- % retained business over a period of time
- cost of sales
- equipment downtime
- repair costs
Of course, there are many more. If we can connect the dots between training efforts and KPIs (key performance indicators) we can prove training adds value and has a direct impact on organizational success.
So how do we do that?
Have a clear objective. We recently discussed the importance of learning objectives and how to create good ones. In order to determine whether training is successful, we have to know what the audience should be able to do after completing it.
Tie that objective to a KPI. If your audience begins doing what they were trained to do, in the way they were trained to do it, what impact would that have? Would repair and warranty costs decrease? Would the percentage of retained customers increase?
Make sure you have a direct, trackable link. The training department won’t always have access to the KPIs their work impacts. Work with a departmental manager who can help you track the numbers to identify success.
Don’t have too many variables.This might not always be within the control of the training team, but the fewer variables during your measurement period, the better. You want to be sure that training is making an impact on KPIs and not another internal initiative.
Training doesn’t have to be like blindly shooting fish in a barrel. It used to be harder to measure, but today’s technology makes it much simpler. It’s a matter of adequate planning from the beginning, and drawing a line from training to the critical KPIs of the organization not only informs the training team of what works, but catches the eye of upper-management and helps secure funding for future projects.
If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch. We can help you establish a clear learning objective and connect it to the relevant KPIs.
photo credit: J. McPherskesen
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