Is it time for you to measure the effectiveness of your training programs? If you’re not sure where to start, these Top Ten Training Metrics can help.

Measuring the effectiveness of training is a very difficult task, for stakeholders, training departments and end users. If you are a training manager or company stakeholder looking for ways to measure the effectiveness of your programs, these ten metrics are a great place to start.

One: Increased retention. Most Human Resources departments measure the rate of retention in all or various jobs. Many times, the front line, high turnover jobs are the ones that receive the most attention. If newly trained employees feel ill-equipped for the job, they are more likely to leave within their first 90 days. When you measure training success this way, higher retention points to a successful training program.

Two: Increased sales. Many organizations can track efficiency based on sales. If training is heavily geared toward a sales or customer service force, an effective program will eventually increase sales numbers. You can also measure product knowledge training as part of a sales number – poorly educated sales people usually do not make the sale. Dollar figures and unit sales make good metrics, but be sure to balance any metric with other factors that can influence sales numbers.

Three: Increased operational efficiency. In highly regulated or production-oriented businesses, managers look for more efficiency, which raises the bottom line. If your training programs teach skills, look to management’s efficiency metrics, as a baseline, before and after the training intervention. If you are building a new program or product, look at the efficiency numbers to obtain direction on training course content.

Four: Customer service results. Any organization can link training to customer service, which can be both internal and external. Customer service is also one of the easier place to start: one well-written survey can identify a host of customer related issues that can be addressed by training programs. Remember that training may not be the only solution to those issues. If your organization already has a customer survey in place, use those metrics to cross check your programs. When your programs impact the survey items, you can correlate an increase in customer satisfaction back to training.

Five: Company-defined scorecards. Training outsourcers tend to use client-defined criteria to determine training effectiveness. If your organization has a wide variety of possible measurements, sit down with management, and stakeholders, to create a custom scorecard based on expectations and the training programs that need to be in place.

Six: Cost of training. This is an internal training department measurement. In high turnover organizations, lowering cost per student can be used as an effectiveness measurement. Cost of training could also relate directly back to retention – if you’re spending less on new hire training, your retention may be higher. Work with your stakeholders and the HR department to determine training costs and where you want those numbers to be.

Seven: Return on Investment. ROI has long been a “catch all” metric. In some cases, it’s easy to define ROI, but in more cases it’s increasingly difficult. If you deliver soft skills training, it’s hard to put a dollar figure on the return. There are numerous ROI calculations available, so if you’re thinking about using an ROI metric, look for the formulas and plug in what you can. If you are part of a numbers-driven organization, you’ll be able to make friends with the stakeholders by defining and measuring concrete ROI.

Eight: Revenue generation. This metric appears most likely as a combination of sales numbers, operational efficiency, and customer service. If an organization shows increased revenue, a solid training program can be part of that increase. If your organization is rolling out a new revenue generator, such as a product or service, that is generally the best time to use revenue generation as training metric.

Nine: Instructor performance. Instructor evaluation is an important internal measurement. The results can come from student and manager evaluations, and must take into account the instructor’s presentation skills, knowledge of the subject, projection of organizational values, and adherence to instructional guidelines. The good part about instructor performance as a metric is that it can also be used as an external measure. When training is under discussion, training managers should be the first to praise their instructors for delivering quality instruction in every course – and instructor evaluations provide the supporting evidence.

Ten: End-user satisfaction. Your audience can measure effectiveness quicker than anyone else, both immediately following training and after a given time period, such as 30 or 60 days. The immediate results, sometimes referred to as “smile sheets”, can give you a picture of what happened in the classroom. The delayed results can tell you if the material is useful or not. Plus, end-user surveys are great tools for proving effectiveness with management.

Remember that training metrics may take time to put into place and show results. It’s also important to obtain buy-in from your stakeholders while you’re determining how to measure results. Use these metrics to start with – and use them whenever you’re developing or revamping training programs. Once you can prove bottom-line effectiveness, your credibility will go a long way.

Copyright 2009-2012 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– offers 25+ years of training and talent management for executives, business owners, and top performing sales executives in taking the leap from the ordinary to extraordinary. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.

Learn more about Bryant at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/bryantnielson

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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes.

For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive.

Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City.

He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should ‘engage and inspire’ students to greater productivity and performance.