Trying to evaluate the impact that learning and development has on your people and ultimately, the business is not a new challenge. Learning should be a strategic investment that drives business performance and builds business capability. But knowing ‘how’ to achieve this measurement is not always easy.
There are different approaches to evaluation that I have explored with NetDimensions in our recent webinar and the accompanying paper. However, the time has come for us to move beyond just evaluating learning activity. At Fosway Group we often say that L&D has a habit of delivery. So to embrace impact as a central ethos, L&D needs to stop taking orders and just tracking completion rates, number of events run and happy sheets returned. Instead, we need to look at whether or not learning delivers a positive result – ideally for both the learner and the business. And if it doesn’t, we shouldn’t do it.
But 80% of the attendees at the webinar rated themselves as ‘OK’ or ‘Poor’ at measuring learning impact. And our current research into over 1000 learning professionals also shows there is considerable room for improvement with only 54% of respondents saying that their learning technology ‘always’ or ‘frequently’ delivers a positive impact for their organisation.
First things first, L&D needs to talk to the broader business audience.
Attendees told us that it is generally the L&D managers who are being shown learning evaluation data. When in fact, their primary goals are to show that current initiatives are proving effective, and to demonstrate the value of learning to senior management. At present then, L&D’s behaviour is driving a self-fulfilling prophecy. How are we supposed to focus on business metrics if the rest of the business isn’t involved? Go and talk to them and find out what matters to them!
You can then shift to a better position to be able to:
- Build impact into the core of L&D’s engagement and ethos
- Be predictive, not just retrospective – look ahead at how you can measure the impact of what you’re doing from the outset of your learning design, not just back at what’s happened after a learning intervention
- Relate to real business measurements
- Embrace the promise of analytics – although being able to get the data on its own is not enough. L&D needs to be able to interpret and apply the insights that some analytics tools can deliver in order to harness them as part of this focus on learning impact
CEO, Fosway Group
David Wilson is founder and CEO of Fosway Group, Europe’s #1 HR Analyst. A major commentator on the HCM, talent and learning technology industry, David is a strategic advisor to many major corporate and supplier organisations in the UK and Europe.
David personally leads Fosway’s HCM and Talent research and corporate advisory agenda. He is the author of over 150 research papers and articles on HCM, talent and learning technology and innovation, as well as being a leading speaker at major conferences in the UK and Europe.
With his extensive market knowledge and detailed insight of corporate projects and experiences, David continues to influence the thinking of many of the leading companies and vendors operating in the market today.
Tel.: +44 (0)20 7917 1870