@Quinnovator reminded us all during a session (co-hosted with @aaronesilvers) at last week's Learning Solutions conference that no matter what we design or build, you cannot guarantee learning will happen. The most you can do is provide for the best opportunity for learning to take place. That's right- you are just an enabler of the right conditions, context, and opportunity for someone to learn. So, if your organization recognizes this and wants learning to be a competitive differentiator- it must track in its performance appraisal process how well or how poorly its people leverage these opportunities to create value and innovate.
I'm not talking about tracking attendance at instructor-led courses offered, or other "butts-in-seats" metrics of who stared at their PC monitor the longest taking some e-learning course. You've also got to dig deeper than a few quiz items at the end of your course to signal completion or pass/fail. The effort must look beyond simple measures of attendance and activity, and focus on assessing the performance and perfecting of newly learned skills and abilities. The implications of this are enormous, both for instructional designers and human resources professionals alike.
For designers, look to learning management systems (or HRIS systems) that can assist you in tracking metrics relevant to the performance of newly acquired skills. Also look to measure the motivation of your learners to partake in development opportunities and to try new skills and abilities. Work with Managers in your organization to identify metrics they can observe on-the-job and away from the training department's observing eyes. Also work with managers on strategies to motivate your learners to use new skills and to not punish failure, but to reinforce and correct performance back on-the-line. And finally, ask yourself- can you tie some of the performance metrics you are developing directly to the organization's strategic goals and priorities?
Human resources professionals also need to recalibrate their performance development systems and processes to reward those that proactively leverage learning opportunities afforded to them by the organization. Rather than simply accounting for training courses taken, identify the goals and objectives of said learning and development opportunities and then interview peers and/ or supervisors seeking input into the performance of newly acquired skills. How have employees performed new skills in advancement of the organization's strategic initiatives? Did the employee actively seek out the opportunity, or was the employee a passive (or worse, reluctant) recipient of the learning opportunity?
While it’s not easy to measure initiative and drive to learn (and grow), identifying those individuals within your organization who are striving to better themselves and improve their value to the company is critical to your success.
Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.