What’s the ROI on your current training?

By Jeremy Blake on November 11, 2021

Buying training isn’t an easy job. You have some people asking how much? Others how long? And once you’ve bought the development programme you need to prove it has worked.

Over the years we have had some clients measure us intensively and other firms haven’t begun to consider measuring the impact of training. Some we have helped and with others we were a promised long-term solution but were used as a short-term sheep dip!

Which clients do we work with again and again, the ones who measure us, or the ones who don’t?  The ones who measure us of course, as they work on developing the proof of ROI to all the stakeholders, delegates, and investors in the projects.

“We will be measuring the impact of this very closely.” Wonderful ten words to hear.

You need to measure over some time and whether you know and like Kirkpatrick’s methodology or the work of the Phillips husband and wife team, you should spend time, as well as money, to show the changes that have come about from the interventions and companies you partner with.

When someone who doesn’t work in people development says, “we’ll know it has worked because we’ll see in the results”, you need to be able to respond and explain the phases human beings go through when they are changing their approaches and habits.

Let us look at the phases and what you need to understand:

  1. Reaction - Nearly everyone gets feedback on a live or online session, this is just what they feel about the session in a programme they have attended.
    This is a vital first phase and you should evaluate what they say about relevance of content, trainers, style, venue, food, and more. You also want to find out what they think they can do with what they are learning.
  2. Learning – what are people applying to their roles? Are they using new knowledge and skills with internal colleagues or customers in a way that is relevant to what you are doing?
  3. Behavioural change – how are people’s behaviours changing in the real non theoretical world where they are using what they have learned. This can be a mass of small changes in behaviour from, “hmm they are now never late, they always were five mins late…” to, “they prepare their coaching sessions in the new way they were shown and have made huge progress in addressing their teams’ problems.”  Phillips builds on Kirkpatrick and their model looks closely at the difference between the application of learning and the way changes in approach are being implemented. Understanding why people are or aren’t applying new knowledge and skills is vital. It could be a person stopping them, a machine not working, or other reasons.
  4. Results – let us measure some results now at phase 4. These will be the measures that the company really wanted to address. In sales projects this is the conversion rate growth, the average order value, the frequency of transactions or visits. In management terms it might be the reduction in cancelling coaching sessions, far better delivery of meetings, reducing the number of Zoom meetings and much more. One client wanted to measure the amount of young leaders applying for the next step on the leadership ladder, this was a key measure in retention and progressive behaviour and reduced attrition.

Here Phillips spends more time on a cost benefit analysis, that looks at the value of the training when set against the measurable returns.

Phillips also talks about measuring other results and intangible results that emerge. One company in the US recently saw the marriage rate of employees increase, as people felt more comfortable to settle down with the firm and make roots. You may not have expected it, but you should capture it!

Demonstrating value is always seen as a vital skill for salespeople, when selling their products and services to customers. I hope this short blog has made you see how vital it is to calculate the return on investment internally with training.

Look into the work of the two specialist organisations I mention and help people to see without question what great people development can achieve.

A firm can’t function without certain capital equipment, and it will function far better when the human capital is developed. Sometimes you just need more evidence.

Click for more information on our Management Skills Training Courses, Sales Training Courses, Leadership Development Training, Business Coaching Programmes and Customer Service Training