Are you Serious? Or Just Hopeful?
Motivation and insight for L&D on Tracking Success
By Lisa M.D. Owens, January 202
This is the first of several blogs on Tracking Success for L&D. Crystal Kadakia and Lisa MD Owens are the co-creators of the Learning Cluster Design (LCD) model. This model is made up of five Actions that L&D takes to create learning clusters to meet the needs of modern learners in a digital age. Because Modern changes every day. Lisa and Crystal regularly research and evolve the model and the five actions. This blog series is a result of Lisa’s recent research and work to evolve the “Track Action” (short for Track Transformation of Everyone’s Results). For more, see www.LearningClusterDesign.com.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? Last year about 30% of people in the US did just that.(1) The most popular resolution – exercise more (50%) and lose weight (48%). And after 6 months, 46% of those people were succeeding, while only 4% of people with similar goals, but who do not set a resolution, were succeeding. Why did one group succeed and the other didn’t? While the reasons vary, studies show that a third failed because they didn’t keep track of their progress, and another 20% forgot their resolution entirely!
So, which are you? Are you hopeful about your goal?– hopeful that if you have good intentions and keep the goal in mind, that it will happen? If so, I wish you luck. If you are serious about your goal, then it takes resolve and a bit of work to achieve it. This means writing it down and tracking your progress.
It’s no different in the Learning and Development industry. We have goals and objectives. We even write them down. But few track progress, and even fewer track the real objective behind the goal.
Think about it. Do people really want to exercise more (or lose weight) because it is such a fun thing to do? Maybe for some. But most people are really after a bigger goal – such as feel better, or look great at the high school reunion, or to improve self-esteem or prevent major health issues. They track time doing exercise or changes in weight as a leading indicator of progress toward the real goal.
In L&D, it is similar. A senior leader asks for managerial training, but what they really want is to reduce regrettable losses of employees who are complaining about their managers in exit interviews. It’s easy for L&D to get caught up in delivering the requested training, and fail to track its success as it relates to the real goal.
What stops us from doing this in L&D? Maybe it’s fear. (I don’t want to see the number on that scale this morning.) Maybe it’s lack of motivation and accountability. (does it make a difference for today? No one else cares about my exercise or weight.) Maybe it’s the complexity. (It may be mostly fourth-grade math, but it feels as bad and complicated as doing IRS tax returns online.)
If it’s fear, may I suggest that we in L&D get over that one real quick! Imagine if at budget time, the CEO and budget makers have to weigh the cost of L&D (they have that number) against the L&D data that says participants like your training and think they learned a lot. If they plan to cut your budget (or your staff), it’d be better to be able to say, “L&D’s efficiency and effectiveness measures are at or above industry benchmarks, per this spreadsheet, and here is a list of programs this year that have had an impact on the business. We have ROI data for two of these projects, which show an impressive benefits/cost ratio.”
If its lack of motivation or accountability, it might be helpful to know that CEO’s typically don’t ask L&D to prove their worth for one primary reason — they don’t think L&D is capable of doing it!(2) That’s a low blow. Every other function in the company has to prove their worth, but not L&D, because it’s too hard for them. Hmmm. See the paragraph above for motivation, and then hold your L&D organization self-accountable.
If it’s the complexity of measuring and tracking, there is that. It is complex. Yet so is the work of L&D. We’re up for this! And if we never get started, we’ll never build our measurement and tracking capability muscles.
Let’s get tracing. The LCD model can help.
We want to hear from you! What New Year’s resolutions are you setting for yourself this year? What goals are you setting for your organization? Join the conversation on LinkedIn
(1) Discover happy Habits, “New Year’s Resolution Statistics (2021 Updated)”, November 13, 2021. https://discoverhappyhabits.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/
(2) Phillips, J.J., and P.P. Phillips. 2009. Measuring Success: What CEOs Really Think About Their Learning Investments. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.