Your Training is Special, but your Evaluations don’t have to be

Written by Steven Lange, Sr. Consultant, Explorance.

Okay, we need to talk. I’m sure you’ve all seen/heard/read many headlines about how L&D needs to change. How it needs to be more agile, focus on business needs, create better and more effortless learning experiences, and the list goes on and on. I’m not here to debate where you are on any of those change paths. I’m here to share my thoughts about how you measure L&D impact on those things.

We can all agree that measuring what we do, how we do it, and the outcomes are important. You’re all working hard to meet the needs of learners and the business. Now here’s the kicker: the learning solutions you are creating are not special. I’m not saying that they might not be unique in their design or the way you are delivering them. I’m talking about the outcomes and impacts of the training.

Whether you believe it or not, L&D is here to serve the business, and in another sense, the learners. But make no mistake, L&D has a mission to be executing solutions that do one or more of four key things:

  • Maximize the operational efficiency of the business (aka – bottom-line growth with your secret sauce / proprietary operations).
  • Mitigate risk to the business (aka – meeting compliance and not getting sued).
  • Driving growth (aka – top-line growth).
  • Building/maintaining foundational skills (aka – generic knowledge and skills).

Think about the learning solutions you have in place today. Every one of them fits into one of those categories based on their intended outcomes. And because of that, they can all be measured in a consistent, scalable way using a handful of direct questions across everything you deliver. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But my (enter learning solution) is a little different than (enter some other learning solution)!” The content, style, design, and delivery method might be cutting edge and something that no one else is doing at your company or any other company. So, keep track of these unique aspects with demographic/firmographic/ course information. However, when it comes to measuring outcomes, you are still looking to discover how certain key performance indicators are performing across all your learning solutions. You do this by asking consistent questions across all your solutions.

Still not convinced? Let me ask you a question: Do you agree that learning solutions need to be:

  • Relevant to a role/job (either current or future)?
  • Designed for new skills and knowledge?
  • Worth someone’s valuable time?
  • Delivered effectively?
  • Applied back on the job?
  • Impact job and/or business performance?

If you don’t, then you might need to rethink the role of L&D within your organization. If you do, then you should be asking questions, the same questions, on your learning evaluations, no matter what you’re delivering or to whom.

  • Be prescriptive with your questions (and maybe a bit obvious).
  • Provide instruction to create KPIs for each of the key areas above.
  • Make sure the questions are standardized so they can be asked for every course.
  • Deploy them for every course to create a data set of comparable information.

Also, emphasize that evaluation questions are used for two purposes: to show effectiveness and to continuously improve. Make sure the questions provide insight into both topics. For example, one question about instructor quality might provide insight into quality, but it does not provide useful feedback about how the instructor can improve.

There might be some custom questions you want to ask here and there. You might even have different approaches for things like pilots, major course revisions, and different types of delivery. For example, if you are doing a pilot and are in a more formative stage, you will want to ask specific questions about topics, content, and objectives. Or if you are delivering learning via live, Instructor-led vs. Informal. However, your learning solutions should still be geared towards answering the questions above and showing how they are impacting outcomes around four key areas: Operational Efficiency, Mitigating Risk, Driving Growth, and Building Foundational Skills.

Yes, it is that simple, and you will be in a great position to tell success stories with data and show the value of L&D to the organization!

However, your learning solutions should still be geared towards answering the questions above and showing how they are impacting outcomes around four key areas: Operational Efficiency, Mitigating Risk, Driving Growth, and Building Foundational Skills.

 


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