Cheif Learning Officer Solutions for Enterprise Productivity

Practical Tools to Measure Organizational Effectiveness

 -  7/28/06

CLOs should have a vested interest in ensuring that the impact of learning can be measured effectively and efficiently. This requires an infrastructure linking training to skills, skills to behaviors and behaviors to results.

We’re all familiar with the classic questions we need to answer to measure the impact of training. Donald Kirkpatrick laid them out for us in the mid-1970s, and they haven’t changed since. Level 1: Did the trainees like the training? Level 2: Did the trainees learn what we wanted them to learn? Level 3: Did the trainees put new skills learned to use? Level 4: Did the training have the desired impact on organizational results?

Most organizations have a good grip on measuring at Levels 1 and 2. But evaluating at Levels 3 and 4 is hard, almost impossible, without organizational buy-in, so if your efforts are falling somewhere short of optimal, it might not be (entirely) your fault. But it’s still your job, and you’ll need the infrastructure in place to support it.

We’ve all heard it, and we all know it in our bones: Training and development efforts serve the overarching strategic goals of the organization. Resources dedicated to these efforts must produce a return that compares favorably to the return to be obtained from other uses. Yet when we attempt to measure the effectiveness of our efforts, we often act as if the organization ends at the boundaries of our function. We’ve done the training. The trainees learned what we wanted them to learn. We’re effective.

All too often, evaluation stops here, at Level 2, which is rather unfortunate because it’s at Level 4 that the training function demonstrates the return it produces. This means that the CLO has a vested interest in ensuring both that the impact of training carries through to Level 4, and that the impact can be measured – practically, effectively and efficiently. Doing so requires an appropriate infrastructure linking training to skills, skills to behaviors and behaviors to results. The good news is this: Your organization might already have much of the infrastructure in place.

Prerequisites for Measurement
Before you can begin to measure the impact of training, you must have clearly defined goals. Precisely what are you hoping to achieve? At Level 1, that’s relatively easy, because the goals don’t change: Regardless of the specifics of the training, you want people to enjoy it, you want them to be engaged and you want them to feel that the time and effort expended was worthwhile. A simple subjective post-training questionnaire suffices to measure this. At Level 2, things get slightly more complicated. We need to define, before developing the training, what it is that we want to accomplish. We want to enhance the skills and knowledge that underpin performance. Doing this requires defining the competencies we want to develop, defining appropriate measures of those skills, and either conducting pre- and post-testing or (even better) the use of an untrained (but equivalent) control group.

Article Keywords:   measurement   metrics  


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