Measuring success in a training program is hard. It is much more difficult than answering if it is raining outside. Imagine answering the question “is it raining outside?” by replying with the temperature in Kelvin or replying with the average rainfall in meters over the last two weeks in your town. Or by glancing out the window without stopping and looking far off in the distance. Or answering “yes, it is raining” because you saw one car earlier in the day with the windshield wipers on, or because your weather app told you it would rain today.
If someone answered that way, one of the following things has happened:
They would be using the wrong metrics to show if it’s raining,
They were using the wrong metric at the wrong time,
The metric they used would appropriately answer a different question altogether,
They didn’t understand the question
Too often, the question “is the training program successful?” is answered similarly. What is success in a training program? How do we define our objectives? How do we measure if we’ve met those objectives? When will we expect to see results from this investment in learning? How do we measure success?
There are a lot of questions and for many training and human resources managers, and success is harder to define than rainfall. But the questions remain: Did we do what we said this training program was going to do? Did the program work?
We return to some of the same old metrics, like attendance to show utilization of a program, adoption to show engagement, but then, why does the program not “feel” successful? Why are there disappointments? Why is the business confused and never satisfied with the results?