Kevin M. Yates – aka the ‘L&D Detective’ – solves measurement mysteries. He uses facts, evidence and data to investigate performance and business goals. So, who better to ask: “What is the impact of learning?”
In this lively and interactive session, Kevin was joined by our Head of Learning Community and Customer Voice, Nahdia Khan. Together, they discussed how to use data to see real success from your learning strategy. Here are our key takeaways.
Defining learning and training impact
What do we mean by ‘impact’? Kevin defines it as “the extent to which learning is activating people’s performance to meet the goals of the business.” He says you should continually ask – how do learning and performance activate a business goal?
Nahdia agreed that this definition makes sense to stakeholders such as HR business partners. And that it talks their language, and could help increase buy-in and engagement.
Impact for our audience centered around the end-user. Behavioral change, adaptation, agility, value beyond the learner, and proving ROI all came up.
At Emerald Works, we measure impact against four key drivers: growth, transformation, productivity and profitability. Our research reveals that when you align learning with these factors impact soars.
What's different about measuring impact in a pandemic?
For Kevin, the approach is no different from pre-pandemic. But, he says, “Measuring impact is more important now than ever, and there is heightened importance for doing so. More than ever, there is a focus from businesses in terms of measuring everything. We need to produce facts on how people are learning, and how that performance shows up, especially now they are virtual and working remotely.”
Nahdia agreed, saying, “There is definitely more focus now on learning, data and its impact in response to COVID-19.”
Kevin shared his guiding principles to measure data effectively. They are:
- Performance is the focus
- Training and learning must be intentional and purposeful
- Plan for impact at the beginning, or it will be difficult to measure
- Find one thing about performance you can attribute to learning; this always leads to the fact
- Investigating impact may not be easy, but it’s possible.
Next, we discussed how to move on from being an L&D “order-taker” to an “impact-maker”. Kevin uses his “impact standards” – key questions to ask about your learning initiative:
- Is it a priority?
- Is it aligned with business goals?
- Does it have purpose?
- Does it have KPIs?
- Does it have support for activating performance?
- Are there investments for time, money or both?
You can only truly measure impact if the answer is ‘yes’ to all of these. Most of our audience said their L&D solutions only meet half of the standards.
What makes measuring learning impact difficult?
We handed the mic to our audience for this one. Their pain points include not having enough time, missing key skills, being unsure where to start, and lacking data and metrics.
To help, Kevin argues L&D teams must discuss projects with stakeholders – and get everyone on the same page – before they get started. What’s more, his impact opportunity review can help you define what success looks like. Watch the webinar recording to try it out.
Facts, clues and evidence
Emerald Works’ Learning Health Check data reveals that only 47% of L&D leaders analyze a business problem before recommending a solution. And only 10% use performance data to impact their learning programs. Kevin revealed the three types of data to look for when measuring impact.
- Learning performance data – How well do learning solutions influence behavior? Learning surveys help you gather data from end-users to estimate the impact of learning.
- People performance data – Measure the small differences between test and control groups which can have a big impact on the success of your L&D efforts.
- Business performance data – KPIs help connect the dots between business and learning goals. Our audience said they use retention, internal progression, and net promoter score (NPS) metrics.
You can find impact at the epicenter of all three types of data. As Kevin says, “Impact is when learning activates performance and a business goal.”
A huge thank you to Kevin M. Yates for this interesting session. You can watch a recording of the webinar right now.
Find out more about solving L&D mysteries in Kevin’s free eBook – available to download at kevinmyates.com
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