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Graham Scrivener

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How does your training impact your business?


Graham Scrivener looks at how to measure your training and development programme to improve its effectiveness, demonstrate its impact on the business and showcase the value of learning.

How does your learning and development programme impact the business? Unfortunately this is a question many L&D professionals struggle to answer but are often faced with as more companies look for ways to tighten their budgets. 

We interviewed 223 organisations and found that only 38% have measures in place that can link change in leadership behaviour to the results of the business to a moderate extent. Most spend 60% of their time and money on one-off training events, instead of investing in learning as an ongoing process that's aligned and measured against the business strategy.

They have no idea if staff are applying and sustaining the lessons they've learnt or whether the training has equipped teams with the relevant skills to deliver the goals of the organisation. 

As many L&D professionals are aware, sustainable behaviour change is a good indication of the success of a learning and development programme. But it is equally important to ensure that change in behaviour is aligned with the business strategy - whether that's to develop sales leadership skills to win more business or improve productivity among staff for greater return on investment, for example.  

Linking behaviour with business outcomes will enable you to measure and track any impact that change has had on the business and therefore demonstrate the true value of training. Companies that can demonstrate behaviour change, maintain this change and measure its affect on business results are the ones that perform the best.

The key is to focus 90% of time and resource on putting in place steps that will align learning with the goals of the organisation and sustain these skills. The other 10% should be spent on equipping staff with skills through training programmes.

Before any learning is underway, hold a workshop with senior management to get their commitment on the skills to develop and the desired business outcomes, such as improving client retention or increasing sales. Then agree how to track behaviour change and its influence on the business, and how to report results back to stakeholders.

Once you've got senior management buy-in, use a system of learning that will sustain and steer change in-line with the agreed business outcomes. To help, here are six learning principles:

  • Ensure learners are clear on where learning will take them
  • Check that they understand the connection between business goals, their own performance and learning opportunities
  • Address learners' attitudes and beliefs as well as their behaviours when teaching them new skills
  • Are individuals clear on how to apply learning to real-life situations?
  • Create opportunities for participants to teach as well as learn
  • Set up learning communities and develop learning materials

To measure how successful the training programme has been with the learners, web-based based survey programmes can be useful as they measure results at five levels - reaction, learning, behaviour, results and return on investment. These metrics can be used to work out how effective the training was against desired behaviour changes, as agreed with key management from the outset.

Once you know that changes have occurred, it's important to ensure that they're being continuously applied, maintained and developed. Without this insight, it's hard to demonstrate any link between behaviour change and business results.

70% of learning happens on the job and people often struggle to 'get it' on their own so ensure that learners have good coaches that can help them, and that they have access to examples of successful behaviour and practice opportunities. Setting up communication and measurement plans to feed back and reflect on success, progress and results are good ways to track and maintain skills, whilst offering rewards and recognitions are both great ways to reinforce new behaviours and to motivate people to change.

Web-based learning systems can also help maintain, track and measure behaviour change. Such systems enable L&D professionals to check if staff are applying their learning on the job, track their progress and for staff to share ideas and stories with fellow learners.

Now you have the evidence to show that change has occurred and is being maintained to report back to senior management to review against agreed business outcomes. For example, are your customers rating your service much higher or are staff more engaged and productive since putting in place leadership development programmes? But don't just use this data to see if anything has happened; review it to drive action and results for the business. Advise senior management on what more needs to be done, how to make it happen and the positive impact this will have on the organisation.  

The data will not only enable you to confidently link learning with business results but it will put L&D at the helm of the business, supporting senior management in steering the organisation to success through training and development.   

Forum will be hosting a webinar on 'Using measurement to drive impact & effectiveness of your leadership development programme' on Thursday 27 June. To register to join the webinar visit

Graham Scrivener is managing director of Forum EMEA, a global leader in leadership development and sales performance training


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