Proving Training’s Value to Stakeholders
Cover Story – By David Brin
A TES&LA valuation report helps you measure and promote success
If you had invested $10,000 in Elon Musk’s company in 2010, you would likely be reading this article from your $1.8 million beachfront bungalow someplace in a tropical paradise.
There was no guarantee, however, that this stock was going to perform the way it did over the past decade. Nor was there a crystal ball indicating some of the events that took place in recent months, making Tesla stock and the electronic vehicle market so volatile.
Tesla is one of the most talked about stocks because while some investors believe it’s highly overrated and are betting on its crash, others argue that this ticker signal will reach more than $2,000 a share within the next 12 to 24 months. Whichever side of the fence you are on, the underlying question that perhaps should be analyzed is, “What is the right strategy to implement in order to achieve consistently positive performance and growth over time?”
That’s where training comes into this story.
Tesla can be thought of as more than a stock symbol or company. It also functions as a great acronym to ensure you have the proper tools and metrics in place for your learning and development goals.
A Training Execution Strategy & Learning Assessment (TES&LA) valuation report is an effective formula to clearly articulate, promote and measure the progress of your program’s success for different stakeholders.
There are three important ideas in creating a TES&LA valuation report for your department – the strategy one-pager, the guidance template and the dashboards. Each has a specific purpose and target audience.
The Strategy One-Pager
There is a well-known quote by Benjamin Franklin, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” If you have ever found yourself looking at unmeasurable results, unstructured teams or inappropriate resource allocation, it likely can be traced back to this failing-to-plan quote.
It’s not uncommon during goal creation for teams to focus on the individual tasks and miss connecting bigger-picture ideas. The purpose of the strategy one-pager is to provide a document that is visible to team members, stakeholders and other subject matter experts as a quick reference that captures the “why” behind the initiative and helps direct resources for optimal outcomes.
Two other critical components captured in this one-page document should be the value your stakeholders expect to see and an accountability closing statement. The strategy one-pager serves as a clear communication tool and extends an invitation to be a part of the plan, rather than act as a bystander with limited visibility, waiting for things to happen.
Like the value of a stock, frequent communication about factors impacting performance is important and should be documented and frequently discussed. The purpose of a guidance template should be to capture the project plan, bulleted knowledge or skill-based objectives, a list of assets and how they tie back to the objectives, calendarized events, and target audiences with a set of monthly, weekly and if appropriate, daily expectations for your audience.
The launch of a new product with an expectation of “the field will be trained” can be difficult to evaluate and is unfortunately the most common metric used to evaluate success. On average, revisiting this template weekly with direct teams and monthly for indirect teams ensures any variations to the plan are recorded and adjusted for.
Tracking activity and gaining insights are used every day to evaluate the stock market, and the same philosophy should be applied when creating a TES&LA valuation report for training initiatives.
The single most common mistake training teams make when capturing metrics is tracking and reporting only on activity vs. capturing productivity and alignment to business outcomes. Knowing how many people attended an event is a data point worth documenting but should only be used to get the attention of your audience.
Training dashboards should point back toward the goals of the organization. For example, if a learning leader knew that the goal for their organization was to grow 10% in new accounts, and a training initiative kicked off to build new skills for underpenetrated accounts, a dashboard might be built to highlight the top underpenetrated accounts across the country, with an overlay of the salespeople who cover these accounts and their progress through the training plan. This approach will get the attention of sales leaders who have team members not attending or performing during training.
A training dashboard will tell the story of leading indicators and lagging indicators. A leading indicator (the number of people who completed the training) is an indication that the application of the knowledge or skill when applied to their individual situation should have impact on their business. A lagging indicator (business results three, six and nine months after the course) will highlight what has happened in the account.
The most powerful dashboards connect leading and lagging indicators. Back to our example of the 10% growth in underpenetrated accounts, where a training initiative focused to train field representatives to ask a series of questions with a certain number of follow-up visits, saw a 10% increase in business from these accounts. You would visualize leading indicators as the number of targeted accounts and trained reps and the lagging indicators as the 10% growth.
Dashboards should be used as a tool to capture the right input, help tell an easy-to-
understand story, and point toward needed recommendations and adjustments to improve the training curriculum.
When set up properly, dashboards will also help to visualize the outlined training objectives from the guidance template and can help assess the effectiveness of learning solutions for not only your training content, but also to provide guidance to the managers of the learners you are developing.
When a company’s stock price is evaluated, there are several factors that go into its valuation. At the end of the day, when you choose to invest your money, you are betting that the company has set itself up for long-term success by creating a plan, clearly explaining that plan and modeling the outcomes.
Approach your internal stakeholders at the next budget cycle meeting with your TES&LA report and ask them to invest in you and your training offerings.
David Brin is a training specialist and a member of the LTEN Advisory Council.
Email David at email@example.com.