Many learning professionals have been tasked with creating a measurement strategy. If you are among the chosen, here is some advice.
1. Meet with your department head. They are the key to a successful and effective measurement strategy. After all, the measurement strategy should support their management needs, so it really is all about them. Unfortunately, many department heads do not understand that measurement is a means to the end, and the end is their good management of the department. Here are some questions to get the discussion going:
- Why do you want a measurement strategy?
- How will you use the measures? How frequently do you want to see them?
- Who else will use these measures?
- What do you think of our current strategy or the measure we currently collect?
- What measures do we currently collect?
- What do our current reports look like? Who receives them? Who actually uses them? What do they do with them?
- What strategic company goals are we supporting this year or next?
- What are your key initiatives for the department? What goals do you have to improve effectiveness or efficiency? Do you have any measures in mind for these?
Answers to these questions should provide good insight on the current state of measurement.
2. Create three lists of measures: one for effectiveness, one for efficiency, and one for outcomes. Your measurement strategy should include measures in each list so it is important to have a balance. Add any additional measures gleaned from your discussion with the department head. You may also want to meet with other senior leaders in the department to get their input.
3. Reflect on the department’s initiatives in support of strategic goals. You will need an outcome measure for each company goal that you support. You will also want some accompanying efficiency measures like number of participants, completion date and cost, and effectiveness measures like participant and sponsor satisfaction, amount learned and application rate. You will want to talk with program directors to learn more about the initiatives and agree on the appropriate measures. Ultimately, the program directors will need to work closely with the goal owners or sponsors like the vice president of sales to agree on the final list of measures and a plan or target for each.
4. Reflect on the department head’s plans for department-level initiatives. These may include leadership programs or programs to increase employee engagement or improve retention, which are important but not strategic company goals. These also include initiatives aimed solely at improving efficiency. For example, improving cycle time or increasing the ratio of web-based to instructor-led learning, or improving effectiveness, specifically, increasing the application rate of learning for the top 10 programs, or increasing the enterprise participant satisfaction rating. You will need efficiency and effectiveness measures for all of these, and you will need outcome measures for your major initiatives like improving leadership. Add any additional measures from your discussions with other department leaders.
5. Meet with the department head and senior learning and development leaders to share your preliminary thinking about the measures and how they flow from the key initiatives. Undoubtedly, the department leaders will have some additional thoughts and suggest more measures, but hopefully they appreciate the measurement framework and the alignment of measures to their important initiatives. Again, the measurement strategy should be all about helping the department head and senior learning leaders better manage their initiatives. It should provide the measures they need and want to see every single month to know how they are doing.
6. The department head and senior learning leaders need to decide which measures they want to actively manage vs. passively monitor. Any leader can only actively manage 10 to 20 measures with their direct reports; so which ones are vital? Although you have been tasked with creating a measurement strategy, it is your leaders’ responsibility to decide which of the many measures will be managed. They need to establish a plan or target for a measure to be managed and then review progress against the plan every month. Once they decide which to manage, you can have them create reports like those in talent development reporting principles, or TDRp, to show the measures, plan and year-to-date results.
I hope this adds some helpful structure to the strategic measurement process. It is very much an iterative process and generally requires multiple meetings until everyone agrees on the final list of measures and particularly the final list of measures to be managed. However, it will be time well spent, and your role in pulling the measurement strategy together will give you great insight into the department and your leaders.