I wrote about the Barcelona Principles recently and suggested they might be a useful base as principles for measuring learning.
I re-wrote them with a learning bias and a promised to expand on them a little. The first of the principles in my revised list is:
Goal setting and measurement are fundamental to workplace learning and development
Goal setting in this context should not be the goal of the learning function, but the business goal. In reality, we spend too much time working out how we can prove the value of the learning function by counting lots of ‘things’ – bums on seats, e-learning completions, happy sheet averages, etc
By making this the business aim, the business performance becomes a key indicator of the effectiveness of the learning activity and function. This is uncomfortable for many in learning; how can the function be held accountable for the individual and team performance. I’d re-frame the question to ask, what are you doing if you’re NOT measuring your effectiveness through individual and team performance?
Haven’t got managers on side? Work with them to understand what they really need.
That means changing the dialogue of provision.
If you’re asked to improve customer service skills, the questions back at the sponsor should be to uncover what measurable business outcome is the aim. If it’s a customer retention target, the aim of the learning should be built around that and measures put in place so the target can be checked. If it’s about reducing call times, a quantitative target should be agreed.
A business target isn’t optional, it’s essential to the commercial focus of an effective learning function.
Reset the conversations with your business. Ask them what is the business problem they’re trying to fix and how they’ll know if it’s fixed. They’ll think of learning as a business support function differently.