Most learning departments either already have a measurement strategy or want to create one. Yet, very few have a management strategy or even know what one would look like. I believe every learning department should have both, and that the measurement strategy is a component of the larger management strategy.
Let’s start by defining each. In its most basic form, a measurement strategy will define what measures should be collected for each course.
For example, number of unique participants for each course, data on level 1 measures (participant satisfaction with the instructor, content, and environment; relevance to job; and willingness to recommend to others) will be collected for each course. Data on pass rates (level 2) will be collected on all compliance-related learning, and the intent to apply skills learned in the course (level 3) will be measured for all courses.
The strategy would specify whether the data will be collected from all participants or a sample, whether it will be collected electronically or manually and how it will be measured (i.e., a five-point Likert scale). A more comprehensive measurement strategy would also define roles and responsibilities, how the measures would be reported and the frequency of the reports.
A management strategy defines how the department will be managed. Measurement is an important part of the management strategy and a natural starting point because you have to have data to manage.
But management is about more than just the measures. A management strategy will define how the measures are to be used and will clearly spell out roles and responsibilities for the department head, managers and measurement staff. While a measurement strategy is about gathering actual results, the management strategy will differentiate between measures to be actively managed and those which will simply be monitored.
Measures to be managed on a monthly basis will need a plan or target, so the management plan will include how the plans are set for each key measure, including a calendar showing key dates leading up to approval of the plans. A management strategy will also include how the measures will be managed each month, including the time and duration of the management meeting dedicated to managing the department as well as the type of reports, which will be required to facilitate the discussion.
A good management strategy will also articulate the type of relationship sought by the department with senior leaders and owners of company goals supported by training programs and how often learning and development will meet with these senior leaders. It may also include how the department will work with a governing board.
Bottom line, a management strategy provides the broader context and answers questions about who will use the measures, when they are needed, and how they will be reported and used. Without a management strategy, departments run the risk of spending a lot of time and energy measuring with no clear purpose in mind.
While a measurement strategy alone will allow an L&D organization to check the box on measurement, it won’t necessarily enable L&D leaders to manage any better. We need both a measurement and a management strategy for maximum impact.