“When I measure the effectiveness of a learning initiative, I want to go in and talk to people six months later after they’ve had a chance to forget it or not,” he said. “I’m going to go after a period of time and I’m going to talk to people about: ‘What are you able to do now that you couldn’t do before?’ ‘How did you learn it?’ Then generalize from talking to the sample of people to the whole organization.”
Executives are accustomed to CLOs showing up with their investment reports, but ensuring learning effectiveness isn’t always about being able to prove money was spent wisely. To ensure workforce development offerings contribute to the business, learning leaders should evaluate more intangible metrics such as: How are we driving culture change around formal/informal/social learning, customer satisfaction or employee engagement?
“That is the return on the investment,” Pontefract said. “It’s not the return on investment of the learning in and of itself isolated and boxed out from everything else. It’s what are we spending and what’s the return on what really matters to us — keeping our employees, attracting the right ones, creating that culture of collaboration, doing it all for the customer.”
Measuring the business value of as informal or social learning can and should be done, however, though gathering metrics is not as straightforward as measuring the effectiveness of e-learning or classroom-based interventions.
“You can have some quantitative measurements. For example: How many folks do you have on job rotations in your organization? How many folks are part of a mentor or coach[ing] situation?” Pontefract said. “But more importantly, what’s happening as a result of that? Does that person feel as though they’re more capable of doing their job? Do they feel more capable of finding a new role for them? Are they more engaged in terms of recommending their company as a best place to work? Do they believe in their teammates and their boss?”
When considering the business relevance of any learning program, CLOs should first ask themselves: Relevant to what?