Are Your Learning and Development Programs Effective? Here is What to Ask
Learning and development is critical to modern workplaces. From small startups to Fortune 10 companies, many organizations have a growing staff of in-house learning professionals. Here is a partial list of learning-related roles at many companies today:
- digital learning
- instructional design
- L&D or learning and development
- learning architecture
- learning experience design
- organizational development
- people development
- sales enablement
- talent development
- training and development
These functions have evolved to meet the learning needs of companies in a global knowledge economy. In future posts, we will discuss the trends shaping this. Here, we answer a different question: how do you measure the effectiveness of learning programs?
Why Measuring Learning Impact Matters
Learning organizations spend a lot of money and time training employees. According to Statista, employers spent approximately $1,299 U.S. dollars per employee on learning and development in 2019. For a company with 100 employees, that amounts to $130,000. Also, many training programs have days or weeks of content. This is expensive in time. Naturally, companies want to know how effective their learning efforts are.
Don't Just Measure Engagement, Identify Behavior Changes Too
Learning and development leaders track engagement and participation metrics. Examples include how many employees use the learning management system (LMS), how many trainees complete assignments, or how satisfied participants are with training content. These are informative but don't measure behavior change.
We recommend metrics that capture how often employees apply their learnings to their work. This will link their trainings to newly acquired skills and behavioral outcomes. Here are three examples:
- Sales Team: after sales reps attend product training, ask: "In the last 30 days, how often have Sales Development Reps (SDRs) and Account Executives (AEs) explained a relevant product feature to a prospect during a sales call? How many times during a demo have they mapped a product benefit to a prospect's pain in real time, without needing to get back to the prospect via email afterwards? How are the sales trainings impacting the length of deal cycles?"
- Customer Service Reps: after coaching your customer service reps (CSRs) on answering difficult customer questions, ask: "How often do reps answer a customer question without placing the customer on hold? How quickly are they responding to customer emails? How often do reps use the knowledge base now versus before? Has the first-call resolution rate increased? How have our customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores changed?"
- Managers: after managers attend leadership development training, ask: "In the last 90 days, how are the managers' teams tracking against team-level objectives and key results (OKRs)? How effectively are managers conducting 1 on 1s or delivering feedback to their direct reports?"
If new skills are applied effectively, they've been learned. By asking "application" questions, learning organizations gain clear sight on the actual impact of their training programs. Knowing how often and how well employees apply new learnings is a great way for learning and development professionals to measure learning program effectiveness.