frustrated professional faces learning budget cutsYour personal budget woes can teach you a lot about your learning budget. When you run tight on funds, you get ruthless with your money. You divide your life into must-haves and nice-to-haves. Must-haves are those things you can’t run a household without. Mortgage payments. Power bills. Water bills. Phone charges. Your Starbucks lattes, craft-beer brewing obsession, and taco truck visits don’t land in this category. Those are your nice-to-haves. You’d love to keep up those habits, but when crunch time comes, they’ve got to go.

Your bosses go through the same thing at budgeting time. They have to separate the wheat from the chaff when their learning budget is crunched. Your business may not be facing economic hardship right now, but you shouldn’t wait until it is to do something.

This is why your learning budget gets cut

  1. Your bosses see training as overhead rather than investment. Like with your personal budget quandary mentioned earlier, many C-level officers see training as a nice-to-have. It’s easy to cut when learning pros fail to prove its value.
  2. You have no data on the learning program value. Many L&D tools (like an LMS) only measure how many programs were launched and how many attendees showed up. That works fine if your bosses are simply satisfied with body counts. But if you can’t tie learning programs to business results, your budget doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
  3. You rely on smiley sheets to show learning progress. Sadly, the survey is what many learning pros use to measure program success. Why is that a problem? Surveys only give student opinion about the success of the program. None of those responses tell what the student learned, retained, or will use on the job.
  4. You can’t prove ROI. Return on investment. This is the data C-level execs are craving from you. They want proof that learning programs help their business grow and thrive. Your bosses want partners, not producers.

Are you tired of your budget being cut to shreds? Then be proactive.

Take these steps to keep your learning budget intact

  1. Learn how to design learning programs for outcomes. To thrive as a learning professional, take your design skills to the next level. Learning program designers must know how to create a plan with objectives, instructional methods, and evaluations that lead to behavior outcomes. Then he or she must tie those behavior changes to measurable business metrics. That’s the only path to creating measurable learning design that solves business problems.
  2. Link learning to business metrics. To measure learning, choose business unit (operational) instead of strategic metrics. To connect learning to a metric, identify the behavior that must change to improve performance. Then identify the metric that measures that performance. It sounds simple, but I discuss in more detail in another post how to choose the right metric to measure.
  3. Report learning successes regularly. Your bosses will never know what they’re never told. Make regular reporting part of your process.  Provide them the evidence of the behaviors that changed due to your programs, show them how you have added capability to your organization through your learning programs. Once you’re measuring the right things, it will be easy to deliver reports that your stakeholders can use and trust.
  4. Start speaking the language of learning and its relationship to business. Efficient vs. effective. Those are the 2 metric types. Efficient metrics describe how many, how fast, how much. You can’t measure learning outcomes with those. Effectiveness metrics say X action led to Y result. That’s the language of learning that leads to business results. Those are the metrics that prove the value of learning programs.

Do you need learning measurement to keep your learning budget off the chopping block? If you need to master measurable learning design, then contact us at eParamus. We’d love to work with you.

Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD.

Photo copyright: dotshock / 123RF Stock Photo

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