It starts from the outset.
Effectively evaluating the impact of corporate learning begins during the needs assessment. First, identify the organization’s objectives and stakeholder expectations: what matters most to them and what behaviour change do they want to see from this training initiative? Then add the secret sauce – new habits of behaviour aligned with the objectives and expectations. Lastly, web it all into a customized training program.
When it comes to program design, a one-size-fits-all approach is ruinous because there isn’t an exact strategy for every business. This is why it’s critical to first figure out the organization’s goals and learning objectives and then structure a tailored program that addresses these needs head-on. Once the needs have been decided, then the design process can begin.
Generic, long and mundane learning programs are not effective enough to excite participants as they often tune out of the education process. This type of training will be a waste of precious organizational resources including time, money and people. Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that employees are likely to disengage from their jobs if they do not receive proper training to perform to their highest potential. This can create many issues in the workplace including lack of interest, low confidence and stalled progress.
Employees engaged in learning acquire, retain and apply knowledge much more effectively. This is precisely why businesses should invest in training that includes methods of gamification and experiential learning in order to overcome the natural forgetting curve and drive results.
Walk the Talk
Because many leaders aren’t usually involved in the process, it becomes difficult for them to support learning transfer back on the job. Despite having the best of intentions to change behaviours or do something different, organizations tend to fall into patterns of behavior they’ve become accustomed to and forget about the learning that took place.
By frequently reinforcing training with follow-up, practice activities, discussion forums and refresher courses, employees will be prompted to remember and apply what they’ve learned. They will also be able to influence their own behaviour as they see the relevance, importance and application of the content. Revisiting also ensures that a good bulk of the new information is retained long after the training has taken place. When this happens, and employees adequately apply the learning to their jobs, it results in better productivity, goal attainment and improved confidence.
Creating a structure of support and reinforcement for training ensures that action and insight will follow. Creating an environment that promotes the practice of new skills helps employees maintain what they’ve learned. And creating a space that encourages ongoing use and measurement of training helps organizations build a workforce to be reckoned with.
Leaders must ‘walk the talk’ if they expect employees to develop new skills and cultivate new behaviours. They should be the role models for change.
Be Clear on What is Being Measured
Without a doubt, the biggest challenge for most organizations is what happens after the training.
Businesses that have devoted time and resources to corporate learning need a proper measurement strategy in order to prove that learning results exist and show that investment has paid off. And keeping in mind that measurement should be addressed from the start will help structure a strong evaluation strategy and a training design that truly delivers the necessary outcomes.
Figure out the goals and direction of a business and identify the return on expectations – begin with the end in mind. Sit with all the stakeholders and identify who needs training – a specific department, management or entry-level positions. And what kind of training – is it for time management, better communication or process improvement? From this information, determine what behaviours need to change and what success would look like. These questions should be asked during the initial assessment, before the design phase, because they help shape the overall learning program.
Once these questions have been defined, the measurement strategy should be structured around them. This evaluation phase starts at the beginning and continues throughout the entire process – it should not just be implemented at the end.
Identifying and monitoring the progress of the goals set at the beginning will help recognize individuals who are embracing change and provide targeted coaching and support to those who are falling behind. Establishing the expected outcomes up front enables an organization to know what to look for as change unfolds. It’s also recommended that leaders have regular conversations about the new learning: they should ask questions, remain curious, supportive and engaged in employees’ developmental journeys. This will result in change occurring.