Training metrics gauge impact
Training metrics gauge impact
30 MARCH 2012 7:42 AM

Holding trainings for staff is important, but understanding the impact, effect and outcome of those training events through training metrics helps manage overall training productivity.

Training metrics may not always be fun, but they certainly are good for business. When working with business leaders—especially leaders in learning and development, I often encounter an attitude that is somewhere between lethargy and paranoia toward the adoption of training metrics. By training metrics, I’m referring to those specific measurements that quantitatively describe the impact, effect and outcome of activities undertaken by a training event regardless of whether it is a new job aid, a recent classroom experience or a completed E-learning course.

From my discussions with learning and development leaders across a variety of industries, the main reasons for the reluctance to implementing metrics in a training organization can be placed into three general categories:

1. Training managers don’t know how to move from current “do our best” practices to a measurement supported, production-oriented environment.
2. It’s been their experience that the metrics aren’t going to be used anyway and opt not to waste the effort.
3. They’re afraid they won’t like what the “numbers” might show. 

Despite this aversion to measuring the actual impact of their organization, training metrics are here to stay. Lest we forget, numbers are the language of management and that includes training managers. 

To get started, let’s just focus on measures of training efficiency. At minimum, training leaders should ask themselves: How much effort is being expended and for what result? In other words, it’s about “input” (effort and resources to create and deliver training) and “output” (the results).  For the training organization, these are “efficiency measures.”  In the simplest of terms, productivity can be defined as “results as a function of effort.”  Or, for those that like to do the math:

In the training department, each of the following ratios yields an efficiency measure managers should be able to easily calculate:

Note the bottom-left metric describes a measure about efficiency of the training department while the bottom-right metric describes the efficiency of the trainers themselves. Some might even interpret the bottom-right metric as a measure of the efficiency of the scheduling mechanism used to deliver instruction by these trainers. Each measurement tells a different story but both metrics together tell a more complete story. Combining output and input measures into ratios yields metrics that are directly comparable across time periods and business units and can be used as baselines and benchmarks for larger measurement initiatives, as well as future forecasting.

OK, so what are you going to do with your new found understanding of how to build measurements that describe your training productivity? Simple: measure, monitor and manage. It’s the life blood of continuous improvement! Start by selecting the key inputs/outputs for your training program(s) and activities, and begin measuring them. Then, create baseline data and measure over a period of time. By definition, you’ll be monitoring your initial training productivity metrics. Finally, by using your metrics intelligently, you’ll find yourself managing what you are able to manage. Not every aspect of your training department will be in your control. That’s OK. There are enough activities within your control for you to make a difference with your metrics.

So get to measuring, and until next time remember: Take care of the customer, take care of each other and take care of yourself!

Jim Hartigan, chief business development Officer and partner joined OrgWide Services, a learning, communications, surveys and consulting firm in April 2010 after nearly 30 years experience in the hospitality industry, including the last 18 as a senior executive with Hilton Worldwide. Jim brings to OrgWide a reputation for driving change through improved business processes and developing comprehensive strategies that streamline operations, drive brand awareness and preference, and increase customer satisfaction.

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