Last year, Human Capital Media published a report on metrics and measurement, which featured talent development reporting principles, or TDRp. The report included comments from some early adopters as well as from a number who were not convinced that TDRp or standards were necessary. I believe some in the latter category were not actually familiar with TDRp, so I will share the basics and then address some of the objections in my next blog. Let’s see what you think.
At its core, TDRp recommends a standard language for our field and a framework for measuring, reporting and managing human capital. For example, look at accounting. It organizes the measures into four broad categories (revenue, expense, assets and liabilities), names and defines the measures, and creates three standard statements that contain the measures (income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement). TDRp, however, goes beyond just the reporting to recommend a standard process for how human capital should be managed and in this respect is more analogous to business.
We believe our profession would benefit from a common language and framework, as well as from standard processes, just as the accounting and business disciplines have. Benefits include guidance for the measuring, reporting and management of learning and development; reduced time spent debating names and definitions; enhanced clarity in communication; and improved benchmarking. In part, this is what defines a “profession” — that everyone in that profession shares a common language and approach, and it is what enables universities to teach it.
So, what does TDRp suggest for our profession (learning and development in particular, but all human capital more broadly)?
First, we should adopt a common language including three broad categories of measures: outcome, effectiveness and efficiency. Second, we should move toward using standard names and definitions for our measures. The Association for Talent Development has been using standard names and definitions for years, so let’s start with existing best practices.
Third, we should align our most important, discretionary initiatives to our company’s goals. No need to align basic skills training or compliance related training — just do these as effectively and efficiently as possible. Fourth, we should decide what is most important for the department to accomplish in the coming year. This will likely be a combination of initiatives to provide basic skills and help the company achieve its goals, and initiatives by the department head to improve effectiveness and efficiency.
Fifth, select measures tied to these goals and set a plan or target for the few key measures that we will manage to ensure our success. Lastly, use three types of reports (operations, program and summary) to manage our progress throughout the year. Each report should show the plan or target for the measure to be managed, as well as the year-to-date progress and the forecast for the year.
That’s it. Adopt common language, standard processes, and standard reports. Most other professions have already done this. TDRp provides the guidance for us for us to become more “professional” and have an even greater impact on our organizations.