3 SETS OF OUTCOMES & METRICS FOR WORKSHOPS
Many training companies do a terrible job of clarifying metrics for their workshops. I think this is partly due to a weak understanding of what metrics are and how they work, and partly due to a fear of being held accountable for generating results for their clients.
I like to be clear right up front on the importance of metrics, and how to use metrics to make the workshop more successful and valuable. My experience is that the more clearly you can express your metrics up front, i.e., what you really want to achieve from a workshop, the easier it is to design the workshop to get exactly what you want—and then some!
Proactively design your workshops to get what you want. This sounds simple and obvious but it is rarely practiced well.
This blog will outline three sets of benefits & metrics for good workshops, and argue that working all three levels will enhance the power and impact of your workshops.
Three Sets of Metrics:
By metrics, we are referring to any signs, indicators, or measures of success, including the desired outcomes for the workshop, i.e., what you want the workshop to help you achieve, transform, effect, impact, deliver, make happen… (For some more background on metrics in HR, see here and here.)
Generally, metrics for good workshops fall into three categories—three sets of benefits / three sets of metrics:
- Workshop Specific: Each workshop module (topic) will come with its own set of metrics based on the topic at hand, i.e., what we want participants to learn.
- E.g., a workshop on coaching should teach participants how to improve their coaching practices in order to enhance employee engagement and performance, and speed up the cycle of employee learning. (There are many other positive outcomes of good coaching but these are a few of the classics.)
- In addition to the technical topic of the workshop, Advanture workshops are proactively designed to deliver both personal and business outcomes. This leads to different kinds of outcomes & metrics around personal, interpersonal, and professional development (emotional, social, and business intelligence)—as appropriate to the topic.
- Individual Goal Setting: Each participant (in our workshops) sets goals during the workshop, and each of these goals will come with their own metrics, i.e., the desired impact of achieving each specific goal.
- E.g., workshops often include some kind of self-assessment that helps participants identify opportunities for improvement in that competency area. Advanture workshops help participants set meaningful and concrete goals and metrics around those opportunities for improvement.
- E.g., action planning exercises also lead to goal setting. All Advanture workshops help participants apply new ideas, skills, and tools to their real life business challenges and opportunities (cases the participants themselves identify). This enables participants to walk away from the workshop with a concrete plan of action (more than one plan, actually), and each plan comes with its own set of goals and metrics.
- Benefits of Good Leadership: Research and experience show that good leadership and leadership bench strength generate a whole cluster of benefits to the organization (direct and indirect benefits). Solid leadership development over time generates additional cumulative benefits—above and beyond the objectives of any one workshop. In general, improvements in the quality of leadership and leadership bench strength (ongoing leadership development) leads to improvements in:
- Employee effort, engagement, and productivity
- Work quality / reduction of errors
- Communication and teamwork
- Talent attraction, development, and retention (lower absenteeism & turnover)
- Customer service and retention (loyalty)
- More consistent execution of strategy and opportunity identification
- Profitability, margins, and growth
- Stock price / PE multiple / market cap
In the future, I will publish many blogs with sample metrics. (On the importance of both quantitative and qualitative metrics, see here.) Here are three categories with respect to validation or verification:
- Some metrics will be directly observable by management, e.g., changes in employee behavior.
- Some progress will be measurable (quantifiable), e.g., in productivity, evaluations, financial reports, customer satisfaction and retention, employee engagement and retention, absenteeism and turnover, and so on. Of course, you have to focus on the outcomes that are relevant to your leadership development program (purpose and content).
- Some metrics can be verified by first-hand accounts by the workshop participants, their supervisors, and by your clients.
E.g., participants can be asked to report on the impact of their efforts (goal achievement)—a powerful example of this practice can be found here.
- E.g., if managers are tasked with supporting the employees who go through training, i.e., are made accountable for some follow up coaching support (see here), they can also be an important source of validation / verification.
Work all three levels to generate more results from your workshops. Each level can add substantial (unique) value for your organization and its employees.
If you know what you want, you have a much better chance of getting it, so identify your desired outcomes (metrics) in advance, and design your program to help you get what you want.
Sources and Evidence:
Useful stats on the value of good leadership and leadership development:
Inspiring and educational quotes on the value of good leadership and leadership development:
There are many great sources on the value of employee and leader development. One of the best overall surveys of the literature is: Bassi et al., “The Impact of U.S. Firms’ Investments in Human Capital on Stock Prices” (June 2004), www.mcbassi.com. From a customer service strategy standpoint: Heskett, Sasser & Schlesinger, The Service Profit Chain: (The Free Press 1997). From an HR perspective: Becker, Huselid, and Ulrich, The HR Scorecard (Harvard Business School Press, 2001) and Michaels, Handfield-Jones, & Axelrod, The War for Talent (Harvard Business School Press 2001). Classic strategy perspective: Kaplan & Norton, Balanced Scorecard (Harvard 1996). The value of specific training programs: Jack J. Phillips, Return on Investment in Training & Performance Improvement Programs (Gulf 1997) and Measuring Return on Investment, Vol. 1 & 2 (ASTD 1994 & 1997).
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