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What's the Most Important KPI for Learning and Development Initiatives?

September 13, 2022

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If you’re a business leader, you understand the importance of key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are how you can make informed decisions about your corporate strategy and build high performance teams that successfully achieve your organization’s initiatives. But, there are plenty of KPIs to evaluate, and choosing the right ones can help make sure you’ll succeed.

KPIs can be used for a range of purposes, including to help effectively implement learning and development (L&D) initiatives. Mapping out your KPIs before coordinating L&D can help you see results from training efforts.

Wondering which KPIs to use for learning and development initiatives? 

Let’s break down what makes a good L&D KPI and how to find the best ones for your organization.

What KPIs should I be using?

Well, that depends on your objective. The KPIs you use will depend on the L&D initiatives you’re conducting and what outcomes you want to see from them.

Start by taking a look at what you have.

Learning and development initiatives are quickly evolving. That means that the traditional, go-to KPIs you’re familiar with are becoming outdated or meaningless.

For example, you don’t gain much insight about whether your employee has learned anything in learning and development for “completing” a learning initiative. The same goes for the volume of closed tickets your employees return because as all managers know, “closing” a ticket doesn’t necessarily mean a problem was resolved by leveraging up-to-date SOPs.

Your learning programs should evolve with your business, so give them a well-needed makeover. Consider how effective each of your KPIs are.

Pass rates, attendance, and completion time are going to give you some insight, but they’re not going to give you a big picture. Robust KPIs allow you to measure the effect of L&D initiatives on performance and organizational growth.

You should strive to create an L&D initiative that engages employees in practice rather than in theory. This includes application-based learning, videos, interactive learning material, and great written content. Your KPIs should reflect the same robust learning strategies.

Evaluate knowledge and training transfer.

First, let’s consider knowledge and training transfer. At the most basic level, this is what L&D initiatives are about. Missing this can render L&D useless, so the KPIs you use won’t tell you much.

One KPI to measure knowledge transfer is time to proficiency, which tells you how long it takes employees to successfully implement what they learned in training. It’s not about completion but rather focuses on how quickly an employee can apply their new skills.

Another KPI for this focus is knowledge retention. Remember, though, that this shouldn’t just be a memory game. The goal is for employees to leverage the right resources after training rather than asking their supervisor for support. It demonstrates awareness and initiative, two excellent markers of successful training.

A young black woman nodding and saying, "Oh, I got this."

Knowledge is more easily acquired when employees are engaged to interact with it. Use role-playing scenarios so that your team can practice how to approach a customer issue or apply their knowledge to case studies.

Your goal for L&D initiatives should be to give employees the knowledge to solve real problems that they’ll face in the future, so your KPIs should be a measure of their ability to use what they know in their role.

Consider impact on performance.

Successful L&D initiatives result in a more successful business on both an individual and organizational level, so taking a holistic approach to KPIs may tell you about how individuals are performing collectively.

Compare employee and team performance before and after the training. Is there a significant difference? This is pretty straightforward, especially if you have performance metrics from before L&D. Consider things like sales targets or customer satisfaction rates. These numbers can tell you about both individual and group performance.

An older white woman saying, "When one of us shines, all of us shine."

A real marker of success, however, is consistency. Changes in behavior immediately following L&D are expected, but lasting performance changes are where you really see ROI. Keep track of key KPIs across time to determine consistent behavioral change. In fact, this may be a KPI itself. For example, you might track:

  • How consistently employees implement updated SOPs.
  • Follow-up rates with leads.
  • Task completion rate.

These metrics can also help you evaluate what material needs to be revisited.

If performance isn’t aligning with your expectations, a follow-up initiative may be necessary. Evaluating performance results allows you to better invest in your L&D initiatives in the future.

Don’t forget about stakeholder satisfaction.

A low-effort, high-reward way to evaluate the success of your L&D initiatives is by collecting feedback. Are you seeing spikes in positive reviews or customer satisfaction surveys? Do teams feel more efficient and well-connected? Measuring stakeholder satisfaction is key to seeing how learning and development initiatives benefit your organization as a whole.

You can measure these KPIs through anonymous surveys, performance evaluations, or reviews. These metrics should strive to be objective, though subjective data may come up here, too.

The most effective way to measure data here is by using pre- and post-surveys.

Ask supervisors, team leads, and employees to share feedback about their dynamics, competencies, or areas of improvement. Send the same survey out again following your learning and development initiative to determine areas of improvement and gaps that have been left behind.

Try to be specific when it comes to the questions you ask so that you can target further learning opportunities.

What is the most important KPI?

They’re all important!

Hope you weren’t expecting an easy answer. Because honestly, the most important KPIs are the ones that offer the most data for far-reaching objectives you want to achieve.

When considering KPIs, look at departmental goals, organizational strategies, and employee roles.

A white woman saying, "There's nothing wrong with having some room for improvement."o

Verify that your KPIs will help you address business problems by involving other business leaders in your organization, as they may have insights into performance gaps and needs. Also, make sure your KPIs are measurable in important areas, like engagement and satisfaction.

While all KPIs are important, some may be more valuable than others depending on your goals. Ask yourself what behavior you want to see changed, which SOPs need to be revisited, or which initiatives will help you bump revenue up this quarter.

Working backwards and starting with the results you want to see will help you identify what sort of performance changes you want to observe.

This’ll help you ensure that your L&D initiatives and KPIs are harmonized so that you can see results and target the right topics in training.

Learning and development is a process.

The more time you invest in your L&D initiatives, the more successful they’ll be over time.

Failure is an option, and it's very likely to happen. Knowledge gaps can give you helpful insights for fine-tuning or revisiting training material. Embracing L&D as a process will allow you to create meaningful KPIs that return accurate assessments of performance rather than just retention rates.

A white man saying, "You need to trust the process."

You can keep it an ongoing process by creating opportunities for employees to learn and revisit material.

House that information in a place that’s accessible so your training isn’t lost over time (and so that you don’t have to host the same meeting twice in the same month). Try adding new SOPs and training material to your company wiki or business playbook so that employees know where to go when they need a quick reminder.

Oh, and, don’t be afraid to adjust your KPIs or break them up into smaller action items if you notice things aren’t going according to plan. Having hyperspecific KPIs helps pinpoint specific gaps in knowledge that may need more clarification.

Support learning and development initiatives with other training tools

KPIs aren’t the only tools you can use to make the most of learning and development initiatives. In fact, there’s a lot of value in using a range of learning tools for L&D.

Making use of company wikis, knowledge bases, org charts, and case studies all benefit the end goal of creating a more knowledgeable and productive workforce.

Above all else, don’t rush the process. Allow your employees to learn at a comfortable pace so they can effectively retain and implement new skills. Don’t forget to clue your employees in on how they’re being measured, too. House all of your KPIs and learning material in your business playbook so employees can continue to improve.

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Article

What's the Most Important KPI for Learning and Development Initiatives?

September 13, 2022

Jump to a section
Share it!
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You're all signed up! Look out for the next edition of The Manual Weekly coming Wednesday am!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

If you’re a business leader, you understand the importance of key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are how you can make informed decisions about your corporate strategy and build high performance teams that successfully achieve your organization’s initiatives. But, there are plenty of KPIs to evaluate, and choosing the right ones can help make sure you’ll succeed.

KPIs can be used for a range of purposes, including to help effectively implement learning and development (L&D) initiatives. Mapping out your KPIs before coordinating L&D can help you see results from training efforts.

Wondering which KPIs to use for learning and development initiatives? 

Let’s break down what makes a good L&D KPI and how to find the best ones for your organization.

What KPIs should I be using?

Well, that depends on your objective. The KPIs you use will depend on the L&D initiatives you’re conducting and what outcomes you want to see from them.

Start by taking a look at what you have.

Learning and development initiatives are quickly evolving. That means that the traditional, go-to KPIs you’re familiar with are becoming outdated or meaningless.

For example, you don’t gain much insight about whether your employee has learned anything in learning and development for “completing” a learning initiative. The same goes for the volume of closed tickets your employees return because as all managers know, “closing” a ticket doesn’t necessarily mean a problem was resolved by leveraging up-to-date SOPs.

Your learning programs should evolve with your business, so give them a well-needed makeover. Consider how effective each of your KPIs are.

Pass rates, attendance, and completion time are going to give you some insight, but they’re not going to give you a big picture. Robust KPIs allow you to measure the effect of L&D initiatives on performance and organizational growth.

You should strive to create an L&D initiative that engages employees in practice rather than in theory. This includes application-based learning, videos, interactive learning material, and great written content. Your KPIs should reflect the same robust learning strategies.

Evaluate knowledge and training transfer.

First, let’s consider knowledge and training transfer. At the most basic level, this is what L&D initiatives are about. Missing this can render L&D useless, so the KPIs you use won’t tell you much.

One KPI to measure knowledge transfer is time to proficiency, which tells you how long it takes employees to successfully implement what they learned in training. It’s not about completion but rather focuses on how quickly an employee can apply their new skills.

Another KPI for this focus is knowledge retention. Remember, though, that this shouldn’t just be a memory game. The goal is for employees to leverage the right resources after training rather than asking their supervisor for support. It demonstrates awareness and initiative, two excellent markers of successful training.

A young black woman nodding and saying, "Oh, I got this."

Knowledge is more easily acquired when employees are engaged to interact with it. Use role-playing scenarios so that your team can practice how to approach a customer issue or apply their knowledge to case studies.

Your goal for L&D initiatives should be to give employees the knowledge to solve real problems that they’ll face in the future, so your KPIs should be a measure of their ability to use what they know in their role.

Consider impact on performance.

Successful L&D initiatives result in a more successful business on both an individual and organizational level, so taking a holistic approach to KPIs may tell you about how individuals are performing collectively.

Compare employee and team performance before and after the training. Is there a significant difference? This is pretty straightforward, especially if you have performance metrics from before L&D. Consider things like sales targets or customer satisfaction rates. These numbers can tell you about both individual and group performance.

An older white woman saying, "When one of us shines, all of us shine."

A real marker of success, however, is consistency. Changes in behavior immediately following L&D are expected, but lasting performance changes are where you really see ROI. Keep track of key KPIs across time to determine consistent behavioral change. In fact, this may be a KPI itself. For example, you might track:

  • How consistently employees implement updated SOPs.
  • Follow-up rates with leads.
  • Task completion rate.

These metrics can also help you evaluate what material needs to be revisited.

If performance isn’t aligning with your expectations, a follow-up initiative may be necessary. Evaluating performance results allows you to better invest in your L&D initiatives in the future.

Don’t forget about stakeholder satisfaction.

A low-effort, high-reward way to evaluate the success of your L&D initiatives is by collecting feedback. Are you seeing spikes in positive reviews or customer satisfaction surveys? Do teams feel more efficient and well-connected? Measuring stakeholder satisfaction is key to seeing how learning and development initiatives benefit your organization as a whole.

You can measure these KPIs through anonymous surveys, performance evaluations, or reviews. These metrics should strive to be objective, though subjective data may come up here, too.

The most effective way to measure data here is by using pre- and post-surveys.

Ask supervisors, team leads, and employees to share feedback about their dynamics, competencies, or areas of improvement. Send the same survey out again following your learning and development initiative to determine areas of improvement and gaps that have been left behind.

Try to be specific when it comes to the questions you ask so that you can target further learning opportunities.

What is the most important KPI?

They’re all important!

Hope you weren’t expecting an easy answer. Because honestly, the most important KPIs are the ones that offer the most data for far-reaching objectives you want to achieve.

When considering KPIs, look at departmental goals, organizational strategies, and employee roles.

A white woman saying, "There's nothing wrong with having some room for improvement."o

Verify that your KPIs will help you address business problems by involving other business leaders in your organization, as they may have insights into performance gaps and needs. Also, make sure your KPIs are measurable in important areas, like engagement and satisfaction.

While all KPIs are important, some may be more valuable than others depending on your goals. Ask yourself what behavior you want to see changed, which SOPs need to be revisited, or which initiatives will help you bump revenue up this quarter.

Working backwards and starting with the results you want to see will help you identify what sort of performance changes you want to observe.

This’ll help you ensure that your L&D initiatives and KPIs are harmonized so that you can see results and target the right topics in training.

Learning and development is a process.

The more time you invest in your L&D initiatives, the more successful they’ll be over time.

Failure is an option, and it's very likely to happen. Knowledge gaps can give you helpful insights for fine-tuning or revisiting training material. Embracing L&D as a process will allow you to create meaningful KPIs that return accurate assessments of performance rather than just retention rates.

A white man saying, "You need to trust the process."

You can keep it an ongoing process by creating opportunities for employees to learn and revisit material.

House that information in a place that’s accessible so your training isn’t lost over time (and so that you don’t have to host the same meeting twice in the same month). Try adding new SOPs and training material to your company wiki or business playbook so that employees know where to go when they need a quick reminder.

Oh, and, don’t be afraid to adjust your KPIs or break them up into smaller action items if you notice things aren’t going according to plan. Having hyperspecific KPIs helps pinpoint specific gaps in knowledge that may need more clarification.

Support learning and development initiatives with other training tools

KPIs aren’t the only tools you can use to make the most of learning and development initiatives. In fact, there’s a lot of value in using a range of learning tools for L&D.

Making use of company wikis, knowledge bases, org charts, and case studies all benefit the end goal of creating a more knowledgeable and productive workforce.

Above all else, don’t rush the process. Allow your employees to learn at a comfortable pace so they can effectively retain and implement new skills. Don’t forget to clue your employees in on how they’re being measured, too. House all of your KPIs and learning material in your business playbook so employees can continue to improve.

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What's the Most Important KPI for Learning and Development Initiatives?

September 13, 2022

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