Training Measures – Simple steps to become outcome focussed now

Image of the title training measures outputs vs outcomes

Training measures are the data that you share with your business on an ongoing basis to report upon training activity. Some teams do this with great success and can clearly demonstrate the impact they make; others struggle to demonstrate the impact they have.

There are some simple tweaks that can be made to demonstrate impact, but there isn’t a one size fits all approach to training measures. This post will explain the how to and why of training measures in more detail.

Do you report on outputs or outcomes?

Read through the statements below. Consider which column you align most with in your current reporting of training measures.

Number attendees at training course or online learning Amount of learning retained back in the workplace
Satisfaction rating from training Impact of training on individual’s performance
Number of attendees per department Link between attendance and departmental success measures
Attendance at key departments training i.e. health & safety training Correlation between health and safety (H&S) training and H&S department accident statistics
Attendance at mandatory induction training Time to competency of new starters

Reading the above list. Which column do you fall onto currently? Subsequently, which side do you think your key stakeholders would be most interested in seeing from the learning and development department?

Outputs vs Outcomes

The key difference between the left and right columns is a focus on either outputs or outcomes.

Outputs vs Outcomes training measures. Descriptions.
  • Outputs (left column) are training measures focused on how many ‘bums are on seats’, the number of attendees per department and the busyness of the learning and development team.
  • Training measures focused on outcomes (right column) demonstrate the business impact training is having.

If you are currently reporting on outputs, don’t despair! It isn’t uncommon for there to be a focus on outputs when reporting. Mostly because it’s the easiest and quickest data to get a hold of. When you want to demonstrate impact to your business however, you need to shift the focus to outcomes.

The rest of this post will help you move your training measures away from outputs and towards outcomes.

A framework for establishing training measures

A simple framework for establishing your training measures is to:

  • Understand where the focus of the business is, plus the focus of key stakeholders – these may differ slightly
  • Align your learning and development success measures accordingly
  • Create a dashboard of meaningful training measures (outcomes)
  • Report on these measures to stakeholders in a timely manner

To put the above framework into more detail:

Summary of the four steps for establishing training measures outlined below in the text.

Step 1:

Map out your key stakeholders and what training measures they expect to see. If you are unsure what their expectations are, ask them. You can also ask your stakeholders if they have any data that could correlate against yours. Some suggested correlations are:

  • Reduction in health and safety accident statistics or increased in health and safety reporting and health and safety training
  • Reduced customer service complaints or increased compliments and customer service training
  • Increased sales and sales training
  • Faster time to competence of new starters and induction training
  • Improved sickness absence reporting after absence management training for managers

Step 2:

Take a good hard look at your historical training measures and what you’ve previously reported to the business. Are you measuring outcomes or outputs? Remember these are very different measures.

Consider how you could amend your current training measures into outcomes by increasing your post training evaluation. If you aren’t sure on how to evaluate training effectively, read my guide to training evaluation.  

Step 3:

Now you’re clear on your new outcomes lead approach to training measures. Create a dashboard that is refocused on your stakeholders expectations. The dashboard should include both quantitative graphs and qualitative feedback, to provide a rounded overview of the impact training is having.  

Step 4:

Report on your data in a timely manner. Triangulate your data against that of other stakeholders to review impact and correlations. If there is little/no impact, look at how the approach to training can be reviewed to increase impact and meet the needs of the business/stakeholder.  

Reflective questions to ask yourself:

  • Who are my stakeholders and what do they want to know regarding learning and development reporting?
  • Am I currently measuring outputs or outcomes?
  • How can I share with the business measures that are both meaningful and impactful?

A personal example of measuring outcomes rather than outputs

I used to work for a start-up manufacturing company that needed to grow its workforce exponentially in a short time period. The local job market didn’t possess the required skills so new starters had to be trained from scratch to meet the skills of the organisation. 

The focus of the business and key stakeholders at that time was recruit and train competent manufacturing staff quickly. As a learning and development team we aligned the training measures accordingly.

We reported to senior management on the number of staff who were passing the 80% pass mark on their induction training. Plus the time it would take in days for each individual to achieve a certain level of competence once on the job. If either of these measures were falling short of stakeholder expectation, we would review the effectiveness of either training elements to improve ready for the next batch of new starters.

“What gets measured gets managed”

Anon

What gets measured gets managed

You may have heard the old saying “what gets measured get managed”.  I find myself saying this often at work for numerous reasons, its a saying I truly believe in.

If you measure yourself against outcomes, you will inevitably increase the effectiveness of the training department. As you are constantly focused on evaluating and improving impact and held accountable to your key stakeholders. Whereas if you focus on outcomes you will only increase the number of bums on seats and little else.


This post establishes a simple framework for shifting your approach to training measures towards outcomes. Now you’ve got no excuses not to give it a go. I’d love to hear about your success when you do try this approach! Let me know how you get on by emailing me or on Instagram.

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