To be successful in a knowledge economy firms need to create learning organizations.
In today’s organizations, there is an increased desire for measuring the impact of training and development that goes beyond the metrics of measuring participants’ reaction and proof of knowledge transfer. Don’t get me wrong, these metrics are valid and have been used successfully in organizations for a very long time. Learner reaction is very important data to have on all learning and also when rolling out programs and initiatives because it can be used to make revisions… if they are warranted. Assessing peoples’ knowledge at the end of training and development is important because stakeholders are able to assess participants in a standardized manner. A trend more organizations are experiencing is that business leaders want more than these two metrics and desire data and information that enables them to see a stronger connection between learning and performance. One way to enable evaluation and measurement of training and development is to use proven methods in all aspects of the learning continuum, as doing this positions organizations to gain greater insight into their investment (yes…training and development is an investment, at least it should be). This post covers a traditional model named ADDIE, which is an acronym for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate. There are other methods that are used and the use of other approaches has to do with preferences and the situation a client is experiencing.
A client will approach us with a need for improved performance sometimes believing the issue is linked to knowledge and skill. This, however, may not be the case and to provide training without conducting needs analysis would be like a physician prescribing medication without making a diagnosis, which is considered malpractice. Experience has shown that performing needs analysis will ensure that the most appropriate intervention is identified. Needs Analysis explores the expected level of performance, which may be measured in units, quality, revenue, time or costs. Data used for needs analysis is collected through review of records, interviews, observation, surveys and tests or assessments, which enables key stakeholders to identify the current actual performance. If a performance gap is identified, a cross-functional team can identify the cause of the gap, which could be in one of the following areas:
- Knowledge and Skill
After the root cause is determined a learning a strategy is devised, which may involve new training, improving current training or providing refresher training. Learning strategy falls into one of the following strategies or a combination of strategies.
* EPSS – Electronic Performance Support System
Training Needs Analysis findings should include the following:
- Learning Solution Description
- Target Audience
- The tasks not being performed and the impact this has on the organization
- Previous training employees have received on these tasks
- Expected productivity improvements and how they will be measured
- Task Analysis – Duties, Tasks, Sub-Tasks and Steps
- Training Benefit Calculation
- Investment Requirements
Once conceptual agreement is reached on the needs analysis findings and learning strategy, it’s time to establish objectives, define the measures of success and the value an intervention will bring to the organization. A written proposal keeps everyone involved aligned and also has strengthens the ability to credibly measure the impact of learning on a number of performance variables.
Design and Develop
Once a proposal has been accepted, the next steps are to design and develop the learning solution, which involves:
- Formalizing Objectives
- Defining how the learning will be measured and reinforced
- Designing post-course follow-up and reinforcement
- Designing pre-course activities
- Selecting presentation and application methods
- Determining feedback methods
- Structuring learning content
- Developing resources and materials (i.e. lesson plan, manual, handouts)
Implement and Evaluate
This is show time and when all of the preceding steps bear fruit by advancing peoples’ knowledge, skill and performance. In essence this is the time when leaders are enabling people to perform their duties and tasks. Elements of these two steps include:
- Pre-Learning Communication
- Apply adult learning principles
- Gather data on a variety of metrics during learning programs
- Evaluate the learning
Hopefully, you’ve learned something about organizational learning by reading this post. Implementing effective learning not only impacts performance in a meaningful way, it also enhances culture by engaging people and helping them grow. If the need for higher order learning metrics is on the rise, then it is important that businesses leaders support the learning continuum by endorsing the use of proven approaches that will enable the organization to obtain the necessary data and information to evaluate and measure the impact of learning on performance. What steps are being taken in your organization to ensure quality approaches are being taken that will enable you to get the data needed to demonstrate the link between learning and performance?