Summary: Training metrics are vital to your department’s operations, but if they aren’t aligned with the company, you’re creating confusion and an inability to measure. Follow five steps to help you align your department’s metrics with the company’s metrics.

Measuring your training department’s performance and efficiency is very important. But, if your metrics do not align with the company’s overall metrics, how can you measure your department’s actual contribution? Once you align your department metrics with the company, you’ll not only be able to impact the business, but you’ll also be able to better calculate your department’s Return on Investment. Here are a few simple steps to help you align your metrics with the company.

First you have to know what the company metrics are. It’s simple, but it’s surprising how many training managers really don’t have a connection to the big picture at the company. You can start by analyzing the company’s mission, values, and strategy – is growth in the plan? Are new products being introduced? Is customer loyalty the number one metric? Along these lines, be aware of how employees are measured throughout the company – are your frontline employees reviewed on length of time spent with a customer, production, efficiency, or error reduction? You must take the time to determine the company’s metrics – from the mission level down to the employee level.

Next, determine which metrics you can follow – and how. For example, if one of the company’s key metrics is customer service, what are the specific criteria? Is there a customer survey you can analyze? Can you interview the front line to see how they guarantee customer satisfaction? Once you’ve seen these metrics, you can align your department with them. For example, if the company’s customer service employees have a set of criteria to follow in a phone conversation, consider using the same criteria for your department. People still call and email the training department – hold your staff to the same customer service guidelines. What if it’s more complicated, like operational efficiency? Obviously you cannot use the exact same criteria as the company level, but think through your own department’s operations. What criteria can you set to increase operational efficiency? Instructor evaluations, supplies usage, cost per participant, and post-training surveys are all examples of using your own metrics while aligning with the overall company.

Third, it’s a great idea to get senior management’s buy-in. In many organizations, you can start an effective dialogue by informing senior management that you’d like to align your metrics with theirs. Not only can you show that your department is willing to get behind the whole organization, but you can also demonstrate that you’re willing and able to detail your department’s contribution back to the organization. Another way to get senior management buy-in is to ask them to help you prioritize. You’ve seen the high-level metrics, so which ones would senior management recommend you concentrate on? Most organizations’ metrics can be moving targets, i.e. 2007 may have required a focus on customer satisfaction, but 2008 must focus on operational efficiency. Asking senior management to help you align will simply get them behind you.

Now you can create your metrics. You’ve probably already created some of your metrics during your investigation. Tailor those metrics to a training department. How are a training department’s customer’s satisfied? How is production efficient in your area? In what ways can you get your staff to concentrate on fiscal efficiency? Once you’ve thought through it, put it on paper – where possible, use the same rating scales as the company. But before you begin using the metrics, take the time to clearly communicate with your staff.

How many times have measurements been introduced into an organization with no explanation, no reason as to why the staff is suddenly being asked to comply? The biggest part of the communication to staff is the explanation that you are aligning your department with the company. Be sure to discuss and highlight the benefits: i.e. better working relationships within the company, justification for more staff or better programs, and career development programs. Explain to the staff that you are trying to help them move to the next level in satisfaction and efficiency. Help them understand that in measuring them, you’ll be able to determine strengths and opportunities for each individual and each area of your department. Your communication of new metrics can make them or break them – so keep it positive, let them know how measurement fits with the big picture, and assure them that you’ll be there to help.

Follow these steps to align your metrics with your company’s. You’ll find that the benefits will create new working relationships both internally and externally. In addition, you’ll be able to produce solid measurements of your department’s performance.

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