As I entered the workforce in 2003, armed with a graduate degree, a good deal of HR theory, and full of ambition, excited to do Leadership Development. I had even attended a few development workshops and could not wait to hold an event like that for any employee population I could find! Fortunately, I had a great boss and other mentors who slowed me down and helped me begin to understand the importance of actually tying that development to a skill gap that was keeping the business from being able to execute its strategy. It would take a while before I came to an understanding of the importance of starting with the business strategy, identifying the workforce that would be needed to execute that strategy, assessing the current workforce, and identifying where development would be effective.
Then came the next challenge – how would I measure whether this development had the impact I had hoped it might? As HR Professionals, it can be easy to deploy development that we see somewhere else or that we create to close gaps we see in our organization. It can be much harder to measure the actual impact. If we want to be true partners though, with that proverbial seat at the table, we would not ever propose a program that can’t be measured. What would we think of a marketing program that sounded like a great idea but had no way of showing whether it attracted the incremental traffic it proposed?
Many HR Professionals are familiar with the Kirkpatrick Model, but few go beyond Level 1 measuring. Frankly, your business’s executives are not looking for whether the employee enjoyed the session. I mean, that’s great, but how would we feel about a marketing strategy the customer liked but that did not generate any additional sales?
Deep down, we know we need to show an ROI, so what keeps HR professionals from doing so?
Well, because it’s hard. It takes work, and it takes time. But it is nearly impossible to do after the program has been developed and delivered. Training professionals must begin with the measurement in mind. Determining what will be impacted and how it will be measured up front will ensure stakeholder alignment on the destination. The true indicator of value is a Return on Expectations. What did the team requesting and/or paying for the development expect? Start with the Level 4 results and then negotiate what is possible to achieve within each of the levels. Only by partnering with the business will we truly be able to understand the expectations for the training and partner with supervisors to maximize the results after training.
Renni Jessup is the Chief Learning Officer with Audrey McGuckin Talent Solutions. She is an innovative HR leader, who specializes in Organizational and Leadership Development. Renni has a passion for creating and executing talent strategies and customizing leadership development to help organizations achieve their goals. She is also an Executive Coach and enjoys helping individuals unlock their full potential.