I have invested in training for my employees, but how do I measure the success of the skills development? And how do I know it was a worthwhile exercise?
Beware of the oversimplified procurement process
The decision to implement training interventions and the selection of providers to deliver them is usually driven by input cost. Course outlines are requested so that procurement and HR personnel can compare quotes only.
Training is conducted over one-day sessions to limit people’s time out of the office and feedback reports from facilitators are rarely considered. This is not how you should be approaching skills development if you want to see return on your investment.
Here’s a better way:
Define what success looks like before you do anything else
You need to have a very clear idea about what success looks like; what specific employee behaviours will demonstrate that the right skills have been developed and implemented in your workplace? For example, employees attending time management training should be able to:
- Identify how their time is spent
- Accurately estimate how long it will take to complete work
- Decline meetings and limit conversations that are not productive
These definitions should be instrumental in the procurement process; training material needs to address the development of these behaviours and the skills development practitioners must be able to demonstrate that they are able to facilitate relevant learning and the application of knowledge.
Have reliable mechanisms for tracking employee behaviour
It is valuable to measure employee attitudes and behaviours before and after skills development efforts. The pre-training assessment gives you a baseline from which to track change.
The post-training measure tells you whether employee performance has improved.
Self-assessments are a start but are not always reliable; people may give what they think are desired answers, rather than honest ones. It is better to supplement these with measures from managers and colleagues who are objective and are able to give constructive feedback.
If employees know their performance is being measured, they are likely to be more engaged during training and should make more of an effort to demonstrate improvement after training.
It is important to note that what you should be measuring is the degree to which learning has been converted to knowledge application i.e. the degree to which work is performed more efficiently and effectively.
Quantify performance measures
Establish return on investment models. These will help “business case” skills development costs and will establish whether a particular intervention has been worthwhile.
“Measuring ROI in training usually requires a major paradigm shift on the part of training and human resource managers” (Meyer and Opperman). It is important that you fully explore the “why” and “how” of measuring return on training investment.