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Seb Anthony

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Soft Skills ROI


I have been asked to produce figures on the ROI on many of the training courses we run internally. We offer a range from Product Training through to Customer Care and some Management Development courses to our internal customers. I am at something of a loss as to how to measure the ROI on some of these areas. Added to that we do not have baseline measurements at the moment.

I have a question with a few parts...

1. Do I need baselines before I start?
2. How can you measure baseline on soft skills e.g. Leadership, Motivation or even Customer Service?
3. Any recomendation of books/articles would be particurlarly appreciated.

Many thanks

sandra leo

5 Responses

  1. ROI
    I don’t know if you can have a knotty chestnut, but this sure looks like one.
    Let me start in reverse order. As to books and web entries (including this site) try anything by Paul Kearns. Alternatively, go for Jack J Phillips.
    Soft skills training is potentially more tricky but not impossible. Go back to the original needs analysis if one was done. If you can identify the organisational need, problem or value-adding opportunity that continues to drive the training, then you can at least work out the extent to which that has been met. For example, in customer care it may be that complaints were high. If you can show complaints have come down, and you know the cost of a complaint, then already you have a basic measure. Ideally, you could go further and calculate the cost of replacing a lost customer or the value of retaining brand reputation.
    Having a front-end benchmark, particularly one that articulates what success looks like in business terms, is a great help. But if you haven’t got one, you can still do evaluation retrospectively – what did we set out to achieve, how would we know whether we have achieved that in business terms (what would the impact look like in terms of the bottom line, for example) and compare that with what has actually been the impact. The ultimate, consequential organisational impact, not just the impact on individuals.
    These are all fine words but do look at the books for specific processes and tactics. There is no absolute magic formula, but a reasonable attempt at ROI this time is better than nothing, and may help inform an improved approach for the future.
    Best of luck

  2. Work with the company, not attendees
    I too would be interested in responses on this one. We offer external soft skills workshops, usually quite general in nature. We know without a doubt that the training is worthwhile – but proving it is a bugbear! Especially as the effects aren’t generally immediate.

    For instance, we ask attendees on our networking skills workshops to let us know how the training has affected their behaviour – but few actually do get in touch with us again. So I think the answer has to be to work with the company that has booked the training. If they have specific goals, make sure that you get before and after data to support your case.

  3. Evaluation of soft skills training
    Hi Sandra
    Soft skills is always difficult, and the only way you can measure it is to identify quantifiable sections of the skills. I would echo your other respondent – anything by Paul Kearns, go on one of his workshops (Fenman or Croner) and you will get lots of ideas.

  4. Soft Skills Training.
    The purpose of soft skills training should be to show the trainees how their behaviour influences the behaviour of others and therefore their performance.
    We have demonstrated huge performance improvements when soft skills have been used in this way.
    We don’t therefore measure the training at all.
    We measure the change in bottom line outputs.
    If there is no change to the bottom line then the training has not been effective.

    Stories of how this was done are in the book “Breaking the Mould” available online at


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