Sooner or later, organizations responsible for providing learning & development opportunities have to decide whether to measure how they’re doing.
It’s a great idea to use measures to…
- Improve what we offer (to do a better job)
- Prove that what we offer is worthwhile (show why we should keep our jobs)
What shall I count & what will that tell me?
There’s an art and a respectable amount of science to getting these measurements right. They can take a long time and considerable know-how to set up in a given context. Plus, there’s often considerable resistance to spending much time on measurement… after all, the next learning opportunity is already clamoring to be developed before the last one was quite finished.
So, what to do? If you don’t do anything else, try this:
- As soon as you start each project, figure out why you’re doing it. In other words, what’s the business goal? Usually this is something about reducing costs or errors, improving quality, increasing sales or market share, improving customer or employee satisfaction, doing more things faster, or getting something done in a timely way.
- Once you have identified the business goal, figure out how you’ll know if your learning program “worked.” That is, how will you know that it met the business goal?
Here’s one example (of many possible ways) to illustrate how this can work…
- A Little Background. Company ABC’s customer service reps process orders for prescription medications. Those medications are then delivered to individual patients’ homes all over the country. As you can imagine, there are many rules to follow when shipping prescription medications. Sadly, in this case, the reps were too often out of compliance with the rules.
- The Business Goal. Company ABC has a strong value for excellent patient care, so getting the right medications to the right patients at the right time is a baseline necessity. Staying in compliance is also important because of negative actions regulatory agencies would take if the reps fail to follow the rules.
- The Measure. The main measure for success was the number of times the reps were in (or out of) compliance. Also, it turned out that being in compliance translated to patients receiving their medications when they should. So that’s one measure for both important goals. (Obviously, we were a little lucky for this project.)
- The Results. The reps who took this training exceeded our expectations. They were 100% in compliance from the time they finished their training program. So we met the business goal. (Sometimes it takes more than one intervention or round of working on something like this to “get it right.”)
- One Helpful Thing. Compliance with pharmacy regulations was a measure the company already did routinely, so it was easy to determine that we’d met the business goal.
The training folks and the internal managers are still feeling the success of this program today. One reason for these good feelings is that we agreed ahead of time on the goal: improve that compliance number.
For other projects, finding that agreement, and using a measure that is already being collected (or will be relatively easy to collect) can go a long way toward making it obvious that your efforts are making a positive impact on the business. This, of course, is a great thing: you keep making things better and your company keeps you.
I’d love to hear about measures you’ve used to show improvements in business results.