Are You Efficient or Effective? In L&D, One Is Definitely Better Than the Other

ConfusedWorkerIs your training efficient or effective? You might be thinking, “That’s an odd question. Don’t I want my training to be both?”

That’s a good question. But here’s the answer: Not necessarily.

Think about those two things. There can be a huge difference between being efficient and being effective. A manager or employee may be efficient but not effective and vice versa. Training professionals who are efficient in designing, developing, and delivering training may do little to improve the organization.

Here’s what I mean. You may deliver lots of classes, run a whole host of students through your programs, get all sorts of checkmarks inside your LMS showing a long list of things done. You are efficient because you’re checking off lots of things on your to-do list. However, how does this deliver any value to your business?

On the other hand, you may run fewer classes, train fewer students, and not use an LMS at all. But you can point to the direct business value of your training because you’ve measured the results in terms of added knowledge, skills, and abilities in the organization. You have clear data to show your bosses and can prove the impact and ROI of your programs.

Going by these descriptions, which would you rather be—efficient or effective?

You have to think about the value of your work to achieving business goals and speak the language of business. Senior leaders see value in (and therefore provide budget for) what you achieve in supporting the business, not in how much you work. (At Budget Time, Your Boss Doesn’t Care How Many Courses You Deliver — And You Shouldn’t Either)

Employees who are always (or at least appear to be) busy, but do not show how their work improves the company don’t impress their bosses.

When training professionals use efficiency metrics to show their value they are saying, “We are valuable because we do our tasks in the most efficient manner.” When training professionals use effectiveness metrics to show their value they are saying, “We are valuable because our programs increase capability within the organization.”

What is efficiency? How is it defined? Efficiency is performing in the best possible manner with the least amount of waste in terms of time and effort. Efficiency increases productivity and saves both time and money. To improve efficiency one often looks at workflows, tools, and systems that can be improved. Efficiency speaks to the productivity of the training team and shows changes to training department metrics.

None of those are bad things. So yes, efficiency can be good.

What is effectiveness? To be effective means that you successfully produced a desired or intended result. Your intention was for your training program to create positive change in the company. You created a program that could achieve that change. Your training is effective.

To the business, that’s a better thing to accomplish than lots of check marks on a to-do list.

So yes, both can be good, but you need to place greater importance on effectiveness. When it comes to budgets and business value, effectiveness will be the most important measure.

Do you want to learn how to quantify training results and choose metrics that will show the true value of your training programs? Contact us at eParamus if you need help transitioning from efficiency metrics to effectiveness metrics. We’d love to help.

Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD. I’d love to know more about your training challenges.