L&D – are you what you measure?

TM blogs #1This is the first in a series of blogs inspired by David Hayden, at the CIPD NAP(Northern Area Partnerships) conference June 2016, in a short workshop. The title of his workshop was “Is L&D prepared for the Future of Learning?” and the basis of the discussion was around key statistics uncovered in the “Towards Maturity” report of April 2016 “Preparing for the Future of Learning”. David presented around an infographic, part of which is displayed to the left. What fascinated me were some of the statistics in this segment.

In the report, the survey showed that 17% of those polled, measure business metrics to improve business performance, but 86% would like to improve business performance. That is a huge mismatch and it got me thinking “Why then, if the will is there, people do not measure L&D’s performance against business metrics?”

So I have a theory and it all stems from “Begin with the end in mind”. It is all very well to have a great intention of “improving business performance” and a whopping 86% of the respondents wanted this, but you have to start off on the right foot. At the beginning you have to do the right kind of analysis to determine the needs and the outputs, making sure that there is in fact a strong link between them. Then you need to:

  • Identify those people who have a stake in improving the business
  • Of those stakeholders, identify where they are on the stakeholder analysis grid, that way you know where to focus your efforts
  • Be part of the business and have your finger on the pulse, so you always get the bigger picture
  • Ask questions about organisational benefits and impact, not just learning outcomes
  • Do a thorough needs analysis (not just an LNA or TNA) to uncover what individuals, teams and the organisation needs
  • Set objectives with the stakeholders and have targets that THEY can measure success against
  • Agree post learning activities and follow up
  • Keep them up to date with what is going on and get them to support the learners
  • Check in at various points and update them on progress
  • Ask the stakeholders how the measures put in place are stacking up

I’ve written before about “Needs Analysis” and spoken about it at the CIPD L&D exhibition in May 2016 – what surprised me was the number of people that are REALLY interested in this topic! The last point in the list, is a crucial one, because another reason I believe only 17% measure business metrics in evaluation is that the best people to do the measuring are those who are most interested in those metrics and have EASY access to them!!! Is that a little too obvious?

Now L&D does not sit in some sort of vacuum or at least it shouldn’t. L&D is an important and necessary part of any successful businesses strategy – and if it isn’t we should be asking ourselves “why?” and “what can we do to become essential and not just a cost?” If you are not conducting a needs analysis that involves the correct stakeholders and using or developing metrics then what are you doing?

This is what David Hayden, L&D Professional at the CIPD said about the statistics:

“The challenge of 17% only measuring demonstrates it can be a massive challenge and rethink on what we measure.  My advice is to start small and build up – pick one or two projects or interventions and work on the business metric links for those – and make it explicit in any pre intervention communication, during the intervention at regular points and in any post intervention communication.  Become known for knowing the business goals!! Be that role model!”

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
― H. James Harrington