People often say that evaluation of learning is difficult. It can be hard to measure the impact of training using business metrics.
So why is evaluation difficult? One reason is because we accept the goals of the training because the topic sounds important. Perhaps you have heard a request like this, “We need training that develops agility, determination, grit, and innovation.” The person making the request often shares, “I just read a book that says these (insert XYZ) things are important in the ever-changing digital world.”
It is hard to argue with a person who asks for training to increase diligence, determination, and drive. The skills all sound like things that are needed to be successful.
One reason we don’t, or can’t, evaluate a training program is that we skip right to determining the modality, timing, and audience.
So let’s take a step back during intake and think about how we can determine success. Ask yourself and the person making the request, “What will people do differently after this training?” If the answer is that people will be more agile, determined, and innovative, then we need to dig deeper.
What we need is to take the goal, or desired skills, and convert them to behaviors and outcomes. Think of your employees’ behaviors as the on-the-job actions that they perform and you can observe. For example, how many consecutive times did a person follow the new process? This behavior shows diligence and determination. We can think of outcomes as nouns such as orders, decisions, reports, completed projects, proposals, and relationships. For example, how many orders were filled correctly in an hour? Each of these can be measured in number of orders, number of decisions, number of completed projects, number of relationships, or number of contacts with prospective customers.
We now have a list of behaviors and outcomes that we can measure before and after the training. Or we can compare the number of behaviors and outcomes with people who complete the training against those who don’t. We can answer the question, “Did the training have an impact on business metrics?” We now know because we chose behaviors and outcomes that have a business metric or have a direct link to a business metric. Another benefit of this approach is that we are creating relevant and applicable training. Your learners will really appreciate training that they can see directly how to apply on the job.
So the next time you are asked for training on communication, problem-solving, or creativity, take the time to dig deeper into what learners will do on the job, and then you will be able to evaluate training effectiveness.