young woman leading team of learning professionals to create measurable learningWhat do I measure? For even the most experienced learning professionals, this question is the sticking point. It’s where most L&D professionals struggle when they try to create measurable learning. This question has been and remains a source of confusion for so many in our profession. The good news is that the answer is very simple. The goal of learning programs is to change behavior. Therefore, to create measurable learning, you clearly identify the behaviors/skills that you are targeting. Programs produce behavior change shown via evidence of either physical or cognitive (critical thinking) capability. First, you measure the achievement of the behavior change to verify the learning, and then you measure the metric that changes due to the behavior change. Learning programs produce capability that enable employees to change performance. Creditable evidence of learning impact requires verification that new behaviors are learned and then applied. If new behaviors are applied than corresponding metrics should reflect that change.

Which Metrics Show Behavior Change?

Operational metrics show behavior change. “Operational metrics” may not be a phrase you’re familiar with, so let me give you a few examples. These metrics are business unit metrics that measure a single work procedure or process. Customer complaints, sales leads generated, patients discharged, orders processed, packages delivered, customer service calls completed, widgets produced—all are operational metrics. The business unit metrics that measure errors, quality, or productivity are often the right metrics for learning programs because well-designed learning programs improve the quality or efficiency in employee behavior/skills. An additional benefit of using these metrics is that they are metrics that are recognized by the organization as important indicators of organizational health. Nearly every department tracks metrics like these. They reveal the operational strength of a department. In fact, it’s when measures like these slip that department and business unit leaders turn their attention to training. When these metrics falter, the question should be what behavior, action, or circumstance is causing the slip? When you explain to stakeholders what your learning program will change in terms of both behavior and metrics, it creates a connection between the learning programs you provide and their success. As a learning professional, your goal is to create the behavior change that will improve the metric and turn it in the right direction. Don’t start your learning program design until you have this information in hand. As a learning professional, it’s your aim to link the specific metric to the program design so you can measure the achievement of both the behavior change and the desired metric outcome.

How Do I Pinpoint the Right Metric

Finding this metric comes down to two questions:
  • What needs to change?
  • When that change occurs, where will it first show up in monitored metrics?
The point of choosing operational metrics is to limit the influence of outside forces. By choosing these specific measures, you isolate the influence of the learning from every other possible influence. This isolation creates a direction connection between your learning program and its impact on the metric. Your learning design must target behaviors used on the job. The goal is for the learners to acquire those new behaviors. This process begins with knowing the conditions and criteria for the job and which of those specifications must improve so that the metric will then improve. It’s your job as a learning professional to discover what the learner must do differently and then create a program that enables them to then act or behave differently. Could you use help learning how to create measurable learning? Do you still feel some confusion about how to find the right metric to measure? Are you confident that you can link your learning programs to behavior change that affect business metrics? If you need to strengthen your team’s professional skills in this area, please contact us here at eParamus. Every day we teach L&D professionals how to use the tools that help them create measurable learning. Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD to discuss your specific learning challenges.
Photo copyright: Cathy Yeulet / 123RF Stock Photo

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