Is there opportunity to shape and shift the L&D role in an organization in providing needed metrics to the C-Suite?

Measurement Matters: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” quoted by David Norton, co-author with Robert Kaplan “The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action

What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get better.”

As we approach the Fiscal Year End (FYE) strategy and budget reviews with our senior management, executives and Board of Directors it is the time to impress the value of business and learning metrics to the C-Suite. The learning technologies are in transition as is social learning, just-in-time learning, simulations and game technologies. It is time to address the multi-generations in the workforce with measurement and treat the L&D role in an organization as a true P/L (Profit/Loss) function. It is the L&D industries’ responsibility for not being taken seriously as a business unit and producing the needed metrics to the executive management. It is time to set aside business politics as usual. If you want other business units to take L&D seriously then it is time to change the outcomes of what makes us valuable.

Each type of learning, whether it is classroom, eLearning for compliance, product training, blended learning with webinars and instructor led components all require metrics for the business to determine the business cost ratio and the learning analytics to determine if learners improved.

The big question; why do we not measure thoroughly both business and learning metrics? It has been easy in the past to say that the C-Suite is not interested, or the business unit does not want it. It could appear there is lack of interest, yet this argument is as old as the historical posted hypothesis what came first, the chicken or the egg? Additionally, we have had old Learning Management Systems (LMSs) that just did not capture the needed requirements in a report tool generator to get useable learner metrics. Yet we know today, the analytic applications are available to get metrics that measure performance and other correlated improvements in the business, such as increase sales revenue, or improved performance.

As we move into social learning, collaborative training and just-in-time learning for the workforce – how will we capture the needed business and learning analytics to provide value in our learning programs, provide value to the L&D industry to garner the true support of the C-Suite? How do we build our programs so they are sustainable and deliver the proper metrics?

I recently attended an applied learning technology conference and all the wiz-bang technologies were available to show the audience. Yet what were positioned were the ‘cool’ technology and not the business and learning values needed to the C-Suite. There is no doubt in my mind that technology is the enabler of the education programs provided, yet the business and learning analytics are what are needed for the executive management team in order to transfer the value of what is important to the business.

Everyone talks about Social Learning and Just-in-Time learning and call this ‘learning’. Ok, if we look at program types (not evaluation/measurement types such as Kirkpatrick and Bloom) for social learning and Just-In-Time – are we really learning anything? Alternatively, are we providing helpful information such as mobile directions, or product specs to regurgitate information to our customer? It could be said we need not retain that information as we can find it again. Ok – yes, we can find the information again, yet how do we measure this information so we are showing value for our profession and value to the business?

As an L&D industry, it is our job to ask, what is the program type for the ‘training’? (See below) What are the expected outcomes for this training for the individual? How does this training align with the business strategy? What metrics can we provide to show that the training has value? How do we the L&D professional show we have value?

When will we, the L&D professionals start asking these? How can we assist our organizations by making metrics top of mind during the annual review strategies with the executives and to increase the budgets for workforce training? If we truly are going to increase performance we need to begin by providing business and learning analytics to our executives to engage their attention and shape shift their mindset to incorporate metrics as part of the learning strategy for their organization.

Program Types:

Type 1 – Information Broadcast
Type 2 – Critical Knowledge Transfer
Type 3 – Skills and Competency Development
Type 4 – Certification Programs

Lastly, the window of opportunity truly is open now as talent management teams struggle to retain and engage their employees. We start with change leadership to provide metrics and quality written content for our end-users. It would be very difficult to increase productivity margins as the current productivity of an American worker is stretched to the brink. The answer is to increase hiring and train all employees with a purpose in mind.

Kaplan, R., Norton, D. (1996) The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action. Published by The President and Fellows of Harvard College. (Chapter 2, page 21).

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About Linda Savanauskas

An accomplished talent management professional with experience in curriculum design, development of learning strategies, and professional skills development training programs for the workplace. Collaboration in training programs includes small and medium size businesses (SMB) to larger organizations from Raleigh to Charlotte, North Carolina. Virtual instructor led training can be offered to any location.