Measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) and providing robust results from training can be most notably done using the Kirkpatrick Model. The Kirkpatrick Model is a well-established method of understanding the effectiveness of training programs. Its four levels of evaluation are what learning leaders seek to understand when articulating value to stakeholders. However, some learning leaders can get mired in the details when defining the four Kirkpatrick levels, thus failing to understand how those desired outcomes align with overarching business goals and leadership expectations.
Defining impactful metrics and KPIs that help prove the impact of training in any company can be challenging. Identifying effective metrics require knowing how leaders define and believe in training value. It requires a robust understanding of the business and its goals. Useful metrics can tie to a learning culture and how that’s expressed across an organization. More often than not, when learning leaders query leadership and management about what a learning culture looks like, they often come back with different perspectives. This inconsistency can impact KPIs and learning outcomes if no one knows what metrics to measure.
KPIs to Measure
After defining what learning means to the company, the first step in establishing KPIs is to align training with specific business goals. That way, learning leaders can identify what specific metrics to track and measure to prove training success. Let’s take a look at which KPIs to monitor and track to help effectively establish the impact of your training programs.
Suppose the company’s workforce and leaders recognize the importance of a behavior change in learning and development (L&D). In that case, it can be much easier to design the program with that objective in mind and develop tools and assessments to help prove the change. Driving behavior change demonstrates that the training content was valuable toward attaining company KPIs.
While it can seem easy on paper, there needs to be a fair amount of level-setting around expectations of behavior change through learning programs. Learning professionals know that continuous learning is required to establish behavior change. Consistent application has to happen so that the learning content can stick. It also takes time for employees to learn about the behavior, strive to implement the change, and have that behavior change become unconscious and automatic. L&D should ensure they set the bar in each program with the best results possible while being clear that behavior change also involves employee effort and commitment. All learning leaders should avoid overcommitting behavior changes to a learning program.
Along with behavior change, performance improvement can help measure training efficacy and knowledge retention. As development programs are built, learning leaders can measure improvement with self-assessments and competency appraisals. Having defined competencies for all employees, specific departments and even specific roles can make building training programs easier. It’s even more effective when employees can assess their skill levels and competencies pre- and post-training.
Measuring performance improvement also ties into expectation setting. Expectation setting not only goes upward in an organization for learning leaders but should also be made clear to anyone who signs up for a training initiative. It should be evident to program participants that they are not only expected to engage and finish the program, but they are also part of defining the program’s success. Participants need to understand how they bring value to the company by changing their behaviors, growing their knowledge and understanding how they impact the business in their day-to-day work.
Employees that are engaged in learning programs are generally more involved within the organization. Another helpful KPI to measure to prove the effectiveness of training is learner engagement. By tracking levels of engagement in the course, learning leaders can determine how impactful it is to learners. Tracking internal promotions and career growth within the organization can also show how many people are invested in their development and engaged in learning new skills. This valuable data can guide learning leaders as they work to improve the learning culture.
Another valuable KPI to track are training requests. This cannot only be used to help understand the depth and breadth of a learning culture in the organization, but it also to clue the L&D team into training needs. A training request form can provide data on which departments often request training compared to those who rarely do.
An effective training request form gathers as much information as possible so the L&D team can strategize accordingly. Similar to an open-ended survey question, training requests can hold valuable information on workforce learning needs, such as skills gaps, management issues or inefficiencies from a lack of systems training. This can give learning leaders the power to promote a continuous learning culture. When similar teams submit practical ideas and proposals for training, it’s a way to prove that a learning culture is alive and well throughout the organization.
KPIs are an effective way to identify and measure the right metrics to prove the impact of your training programs. However another efficient way to measure the business impact from training is to solicit feedback from program participants. Feedback can be gathered from surveys, focus groups or informational interviews and can help learning leaders design and deliver the right training programs for their people. Informational interviews and thoughtful conversations cannot only help prove the value of training but also create programs that meet the personalized training needs of employees across the company.
Identifying metrics that touch on development milestones while tying back to company goals, mission and vision statements, and even company culture, is critical. Regardless of the training content, each learning program must be tied to a learning culture and in alignment with organizational goals that are embedded into the program’s design.