How do you define what employees are learning?

The article excerpt below poses an important question. How does a company define what employees are learning and what is the impact on the bottom line?Historically we measure what a person may know about food and beverage specs, tableside service steps (1-minute greet), recipe specs (2-oz.), using equipment (slicer), and applying systems (POS). All these demonstrate skills to complete tasks.However, how does one measure service satisfaction that consumers favor?I have been around many peers who have all the technical skill but lack the main ingredient: soft skills. Those “people” skills often mean more to the consumer than the cost of the product or service.As consumers, we will return to a business repeatedly when our engagements with the employees make us feel good about doing business with them. We will give them our business even at times when they are not the cheapest.Staff that initiates service instead of having to be asked creates part of that, “feel good”. There is that unsolicited offer of assistance to customers accomplished with eye contact and/or a smile from staff that invites the consumer’s attention.That is a “soft skill". However, can you teach that to a person who is not comfortable with engaging the public? The employee may be shy. Or have poor self-esteem causing a lask of confidence. Or they may just not like the public!How many times have you had an applicant where the persona at the interview ended up being them giving all the behaviors or answers you wanted to see or hear but not the truth? Then once they completed their probationary period... they became a detriment to your organization?What is the right mix of technical skills training and coaching for soft skills?Some thoughts?PaulLearning Measurements: It’s Time to Alignby Mohana Radhakrishnan October 2008 learning officers face increased pressure from the C-suite to justify expenses and quantify business decisions. It’s time to re-examine how to measure learning and make a change.Your training classes have a 92 percent fill rate. A whopping 95 percent of your employees have completed one or more formal training programs. You’re thrilled to see these positive metrics — until upper management asks you to define what employees are learning, where they are learning it and how this learning impacts the company’s bottom line.Chances are you don’t have an answer. Most learning professionals don’t. It’s time for a paradigm shift in the way we approach learning measurement.Companies are grappling with issues related to learning measurements. According to a survey conducted in 2007 by Expertus and Training Industry Inc., almost 77 percent of respondents said their current measurements fall short in providing meaningful intelligence for business planning. Additionally, only 16 percent say they have all the information they need for business planning and strategy.Learning leaders aren’t the only professionals who aren’t getting what they need from current learning measurements. According to the survey, most companies still focus on learning-related metrics such as course completions (84 percent), registrations (57 percent) and learner costs (49 percent). However, 69 percent of the audience looking at these metrics includes business-unit executives and managers.(GO TO LINK ABOVE FOR COMPLETE ARTICLE)

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  • I would encourage you to Google Kirkpatrick's 5 levels of evaluation. It is a great system to truly analyze your return on investment. It's not going to give you the 'silver bullet' since your results are truly individualized. There is no blanket answer, but this will give you a great start. You can't measure results if you didn't have a goal to begin with, all you get is loose data that you attempt to draw a conclusion with...but what if it's the wrong one?

    The 5 levels are:

    Level 1: Reactions-evaluation at this level measures how participant's in a training program react to it. This could be a 'smile sheet'. "What do you think about the training? What did you like? What could we do better? Does it apply?"

    Level 2: Learning-to assess the amount of learning that has occurred to a training program, level two evaluations often use test conducted before training (pretest) and after training (post test).

    Level 3: Transfer-this level measures the transfer that has occurred in the learners' behavior due to the training program. Are they using what they have learned?

    Level 4: Results-attempts to assess training in terms of business results. (i.e. increased sales, guest survey scores, decreased accidents, etc).

    Level 5: Return on Investment-The point at which your input exceeds your output. (i.e. cost of building program / financial or quantitative returns = the break even point.

    Determining level 4 and 5 financial results is sometimes difficult. It's important to have a goal or a measuring system in mind (i.e. guest survey scores, sales increases, etc) so that you can measure against it.

    Many companies stop at Level 2. An employee takes a test, passes, and 'BOOM'...their trained. It doesn't always work that way. It's important to get to Level 3-Behavior Assessment at the store level and Level 4 & 5 at the corporate/upper-level managment level.
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