If the learning department relies solely on fill-rate percentages and similar learning measurements when reporting to the executive team, shifting reporting focus to align with business-unit goals may seem like a tall order.
The keys to speaking the language of the C-suite are understanding its needs, building a system to meet those needs and effectively translating learning results into business metrics. Business-unit managers and executives aren’t impressed with how many employees were trained or how many classrooms were filled.
Here are six tips for aligning learning measurements with business success:
1. Track macro trends, not individual results. In sales and other functions, too many variables exist to measure positive or negative impacts of training on an individual success/failure level. However, comparisons of regional teams, city teams or other groups can help identify a correlation between training and success.
2. Measure and report the right metrics. Keep in mind there are only three reasons for companies to have a training function:
• Drive up enterprise revenues.
• Increase employee productivity.
• Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
If metrics do not show that kind of impact, they are likely the wrong metrics to show executives.
3. Look at the training strategies used by successful people or teams. What training products or practices — formal or informal — are role models in the organization using? What are successful people or teams doing differently than their counterparts? Can their training practices be partially or completely replicated for other people or groups?
4. Create a teaching culture. An organization that believes in recognizing and rewarding the best people for sharing how they achieve, what they know, how they learn and where they find information will grow faster and make fewer mistakes than one that does not. An enterprise does not need one best sales person; it needs dozens or hundreds or thousands who understand they are not competing against each other but, rather, against another company. Empowering peers is the real winning strategy.
5. Decentralize content creation. Create tools and processes that make it easy for everyone who is an expert to share knowledge with anyone who is not. Peer-to-peer teaching tools mean giving up some control of the content creation process but increase the accessibility and speed that content can be updated or corrected.
6. Centralize content deployment. The best content on the planet is worthless if employees cannot find it when they need it. All decentralized content needs a structure with a single entry point, both for ease of use and to allow aggregation of data from multiple sources for tracking. Information will have the most impact if it can be accessed through one search capability, allowing learners access to information where they need it — not at the beginning of a book, white paper or video, but at the page with the answer they need.
Improving your learning measurement system is not simply about proving learning’s worth to the C-suite. By altering the view of measurement, learning leaders reap the additional benefit of improving the learning organization by creating an evolving, organic culture that’s open to growth and change.