In my last blog, I talked about my personal introduction to the world of evaluation with the New World Kirkpatrick Model. Having learnt all about the Four Levels Model and how to effectively apply this theory to display return on expectations, I was really eager to learn more about the other evaluation methodologies out there.
The second programme I attended took a much more quantitative view of evaluation than I had experienced with the Kirkpatrick Certification, although the Phillips Return on Investment (RoI) programme had a similar 2-day, learning-then-doing format. I’d never thought about learning and development from a purely financial view before; for me, it’s very much about soft skills acquisition, building a team and growing as an organisation, so it was interesting to see it all broken down into numbers and financial returns.
For some areas and in certain industries, RoI works really well and can be a great way to justify that you are getting back the money you’re spending on development. One problem I found with it though; RoI can’t really go into the inherent value of customer service, branding, and all those other things that are not as easily quantifiable as ‘time saved’. It’s these intangibles that, for me, are the basis of Learning and Development- that essential foundation, not particularly quantifiable but nonetheless vital to success, to up-skilling - and ultimately to the bottom line.
An interesting way to look at successful RoI is through the classic call centre training environment- think more efficient phone calls, time saved, all that good stuff. In a situation like this, there are plenty of things that can be measured; and these things all cost money, so you can do an effective RoI on how much money the training has cost vs. the amount of money saved or the increase in revenue (or hopefully, both). Okay, so let’s think about call centres for a minute. Living in an era of technology, getting to actually speak to a real person is increasingly difficult a task. And, by the time you do get through… you might be a little less than cheerful. So, imagine then the relief when you’re put through to someone who is just incredibly good at their job. Friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, going the extra mile so that you leave that call with an overwhelmingly positive image of the organisation. You’d mention that to people, wouldn’t you? They might be looking for a new service provider. They remember your conversation, and decide to go with the same company as you because they can be assured that if something goes wrong, it will be resolved. They have a positive experience themselves. They mention it to people in their own circles. And, just like that, it snowballs into a fantastic reputation and great corporate success.
Now, that organisation may well have spent massive amounts of money on training its call centre staff. And it is true that part of the return on this is financially quantifiable efficiency; each employee can now answer more calls, save more time, make the company more money and provide a return on investment for the training. The effect of that training on overall organisational branding, however – this isn’t quantifiable. But it is nevertheless massively important. And it can make you a lot of money.
This was really my main niggle with the Phillips RoI programme, and the gaps that the Kirkpatrick programme filled in for me; it was great learning how to mathematically demonstrate RoI in certain circumstances, but sometimes you need to justify your learning and development programmes by stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture. Training and subsequent evaluation should be a consultative process; there should be a collaborative approach to ensuring the right solution is selected and delivered so that there is a genuine return on expectations. For me, interesting as it is to add a mathematical element to evaluation, I find that in using RoI exclusively, the roles of consultation and collaboration in effective evaluation are massively underplayed.
Do you evaluate your training?
Which evaluation methodologies deliver for you - and why?
Get in touch, I'd love to hear more about your own experiences of evaluation and evaluation training programmes!