How To: Evaluate Your Current Learning Operations and Plan for Greater Impact

Richard Posluszny ·

Mar 17, 2021

If you’re here and reading this, hats off to you. It’s easy to avoid evaluating ourselves and our work. 

According to Evaluating Learning: Getting to Measurements That Matter, only 35% of talent development professionals reported that their organizations evaluated the business results of learning programs.

It’s much more difficult to do what you’re doing now: Spending time and effort to figure out how to assess your current state of affairs and, ultimately, level up.

Many of us resist evaluating our work by default, typically out of fear that our shortcomings may be highlighted and displayed. People tend to hide in the shadow of their comfort zones. 

The Importance of Evaluating Your Company’s Learning Operations

Here’s the thing though: We all must evaluate our efforts and their outcomes on a continual basis. Not only will you and your teams grow as professionals, your business — and the community it supports — will benefit too. 

By measuring the results of Learning Ops, you’ll understand what training has actually achieved. Only then can anyone refine what’s working and fix what isn’t. 

Measuring training’s effectiveness can also help you prove the ROI of your organization’s learning program. It’s difficult to argue against hard data that displays how training led to increased performance, revenue and growth.

From here, I’ll share a flexible process that takes into consideration the variability present across a wide range of companies and programs. Additionally, I’ll share some insights the Northpass team has gathered in recent years that will help take any learning program to the next level. 

Whether your learning initiative is training a workforce, customers or partners, exploring the answers to the following questions will serve as a strong foundation for an honest evaluation:

    • Does your company have a learning-centric culture?
    • Are your programs strategically aligned with business goals?
    • Is your content engaging and driving performance?
    • Is your learning program human-centered and frictionless?
    • Are you collecting actionable feedback from learners?

You may not know the answers to some of these questions or why these are the right questions to be asking. That’s ok. 

Let me add context and share what Northpass has learned working with innovative companies like Uber, Freshworks, Lyft and Shopify. 

  1. Does your company have a learning-centric culture?

In a recent post I pointed out how delivering an innovative customer experience (CX) is directly related to learning-based initiatives. 

Why? Well, one can’t say they’ve been thoughtful about CX without first acknowledging the influence and impact of learning across the entire customer lifecycle. To execute on Learning Ops successfully, your company’s leadership must truly value learning and “buy-in” to the impact it can drive across a learner base — in this instance, customers. 

This is the first question to explore because when a business truly values learning, your job gets a lot easier. 

If a company doesn’t, however, don’t fret. This is where you’ll be important as you take on shepherding a learner-centric culture.

Related reading: Why Innovative CX Starts With a Learning-centric Company Culture.

  1. Are your programs strategically aligned with business goals?

A 2014 study by the Brandon Hall Group found that 70% of companies that align their training activities with business goals see a significant increase in profits. 

Need I really say more? This may be the most important question.

Are you currently partnering with different business unit (BU) leaders to identify opportunities where learning can drive business results? 

Examples of business goals include:

    • Reducing onboarding time
    • Increasing productivity
    • Ensuring compliance
    • Improving conversion rates
    • Boosting retention
    • Increasing revenue
    • Increasing profits

Related reading: How to Achieve Alignment Between Learning and Business Units.

  1. Is your content engaging? Is it driving performance?

Once you know how your learning programs are performing, you’ll know whether they are helping your organization reach the promised land.

Training evaluation metrics may include both quantitative data (e.g., completion rates and quiz scores) and qualitative data (e.g., learner feedback) on whether the training met their needs and led to newly adopted workplace behavior. 

If you’re not getting great results with existing programs (e.g., low completion rates or satisfaction scores), it could very well be a content problem. 

At that point, you should consider taking a crash course on instructional design best practices

  1. Is learning human-centered and frictionless?

Are your learning programs integrated with your mobile app, website and all your business systems (e.g., CRM, Helpdesk, HRIS, etc.)? When this is the case, you’re able to use data to automatically deliver valuable content right within the touchpoints your learners use every day. 

When learning is hyper relevant, it boosts engagement thereby leading to better outcomes. 

Also, are you celebrating learner wins? 

Completing an assignment, demonstrating a learning objective and achieving a business outcome are accomplishments. Make sure to shower your people with recognition and reward them as they move along their learning journey. 

Sometimes, a boost is all someone needs to keep motivated and enthused about their training coursework.

Related reading: 3 Reasons Why Mobile-Optimized Learning is Now Non-Negotiable.

  1. Are you collecting actionable feedback from learners?

Do you currently have an established feedback loop where learners tell you how training went or how it could be improved? It’s important that you understand how confident learners are on the topics they were trained. 

When satisfaction and confidence are high, outcomes happen. 

What’s Next?

Learning is moving to the frontlines of business. At the root of this cultural shift is the introduction of Learning Ops, where we’ve cultivated a strategic framework and the technology to support it. 

Learning Ops better positions learning-powered initiatives within today’s leading organizations and dispels conventional beliefs about Learning & Development (L&D). Today, online training is no longer a “nice to have.” It can mean the difference between stagnation and growth.

If you’re ready to achieve a frictionless, engaging and more human learning experience that drives business results, be sure to download our eBook.

 

Download the eBook

About the Author

Richard Posluszny

Richard Posluszny oversees Northpass' marketing efforts. When Richard isn't spreading Northpass' gospel, he can be found driving something sporty, at an art gallery or learning more about American history.

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