If you are the Learning and Development or Training Manager in your organization, you are probably often asked how you are ensuring that the effort and money spent on training is having the desired outcome and contributing tangibly to the company.
If your answer to that is, ‘let’s put in place a system to measure the effectiveness of training’, hold on!
Before you jump on to the measurement bandwagon, take a step back and try to assess whether your organization is ready for a full blown effectiveness measurement exercise.
Don’t go all guns blazing on a Training Effectiveness Measurement system if you see the following signs:
1. The person asking the questions has bad (or unclear) motives. Be very clear about who’s asking you to measure effectiveness and with what intentions. In a lot of cases, you will find that the executives who ask for this are the same ones who bad-mouth the training they or their people attend. Why, you ask? Because they believe you won’t be able to come up with anything and this will in fact help them shut you out. Don’t fall into the trap of starting a training effectiveness measurement for the wrong reasons.
2. The senior management is not explicitly supportive. We are not talking about a muted ‘go-ahead’ in a meeting room, we are talking overt support of the programme that you plan to run because they believe that it will add value to the organization.
3. Line managers aren’t currently in the loop on what training their team-members are attending. This is because, to measure effectiveness, you will have to seek help from line managers. If they don’t know or worse still, don’t care what training programmes their team-members are attending, how will they observe any change in behavior/skills?
4. People are attending training programmes ‘because it is mandated’ or only because they ‘got nominated’. If they didn’t ask for the training then don’t expect them to participate in the process of measuring its effectiveness. They probably didn’t want to attend in the first place!
5. The objectives of the training intervention are vague. If it’s not clear what you are trying to achieve, then how will you measure effectiveness in any kind of meaningful manner?
However, there are things you can do to ensure that you don’t start off on the wrong foot:
1. Start small. Assuming your objectives are clear and the leadership team is on-board then why not start with a pilot programme? Once you are able to build credibility with the senior management on the merits of measuring effectiveness, they will be much more willing to back you on other programmes.
2. Ensure that your Training Needs Analysis is correct. Simply put, the doctor’s diagnosis has to be correct in order to administer the right medication. Have clear objectives and expected outcomes for the programme whose effectiveness you want to measure.
3. Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Make sure your message reaches the line managers who will eventually be your eyes and ears to observe and report changes in behavior, knowledge, skills or attitude in their team-members.
4. Keep the system as simple as possible. Don’t make the mistake of making it multilayered or bureaucratic. Simplify it to the extent that no one can come back saying they didn’t get it!
5. Build measuring effectiveness into the programme. Combine it with methods that help improve effectiveness e.g. ask leadership programme participants to keep a diary of their progress on the key objectives.