Measuring Training Results

Sometimes I wonder if it's really possible to measure training results. Have you? Increasingly, training departments are being asked to justify the courses they offer and their consulting interventions with hard data. Since organizations are under great pressure to cut costs and do more with less, this trend is likely to continue. If you haven't been asked to prove the return on investment (ROI) from your training, you probably will be soon.

Trainers usually ask themselves "are we teaching the right things?" When asked to prove the ROI of your training, you need to change the question to "is whatever we're teaching doing us any good financially?"

In 1959, Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick identified four levels of training evaluation:

reaction do they like it?
learning do they get it?
behavior can they do it?
results do they use it, does it make a difference?

To determine training ROI you must measure it at the results level. To achieve results measurable in ROI terms identify (1) the results you want and (2) the way you will obtain data to determine cost and benefit.

Determine the desired results by talking with the managers of the people to be trained. To track results, choose indicators that are credible to management. This is an important point! Management must agree that the indicators you will track will prove ROI.

Here at some results indicators to look at.

For supervisory and management training track:

* increased output
* reduced absenteeism and tardiness
* reduced cost of new hires
* reduced turnover
* increased number of employee suggestions
* climate survey data (morale and attitudes)

For sales training track:

* sales volume
* average sale size
* add-on sales
* close-to-call ratio
* ratio of new accounts to old accounts
* number of items per order

For customer relations training track:

* accuracy of orders
* size of orders
* number of transactions per day
* adherence to credit procedures
* number of lost customers
* amount of repeat business
* number of referrals
* number of complaints

To calculate ROI use the following formula:

ROI = (Benefits - Costs/Costs) x 100

For example, if you determine the benefits of a program or consulting intervention are $20,000 and the costs of the program were $5,000, the formula would look like this:

ROI = (20,000 - 5,000) = 15,000/5,000 = 3 x 100 = 300% return on investment

One of the more difficult aspects of tying training to the bottom line is verifying that the skills and knowledge taught in training are actually linked to the operational results being measured. The key question you must answer is: did the training actually cause the results? Or were the results due to some other factors that had nothing to do with the training.

Sometimes it's easy to show that training caused the results. A course teaching people to repair a machine should cause less machine downtime. Proving that interpersonal skills training caused an increase in production can be more difficult.

One effective approach to prove the ROI of "soft skills" training is to observe successful performers. By observing the "stars" and the conditions under which they work, you can establish benchmarks or job standards. Then observe average performers and the conditions under which they work. This may provide clues to the skills or behaviors that separate average from star performers. Teaching the skills that create star performers, and creating the same conditions, should increase results.

Copyright 2003 Paul G. Fox. All rights reserved.

Paul G. Fox, Fox Performance Training
1802 Meadowview Drive, East Windsor Connecticut 06088
"No Fluff Training™" on behavioral interviewing and negotiation
(860) 623-8288

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