Founder How to Accelerate Learning
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How to be objective about ROI pt3

14th Apr 2014
Founder How to Accelerate Learning
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In the last part of this series, Krystyna Gadd concludes her practical look at ROI for trainers and training departments.

Let us now look at how we start to write some great objectives that will help us give the stakeholders what they are looking for.

Putting it into practice - Setting objectives for delivering 'feedback skills training for managers'

Going back to Steven Covey's quote, 'begin with the end in mind', if you start with weak objectives, the chances of achieving great outcomes are diminished. Strong objectives have a great number of benefits:

Click here for a video on writing objectives

Before any design work can be done, the stakeholders need to be questioned. If you do not know who your stakeholders are then you need to find that out first. You also need to determine their usefulness according to the stakeholder grid.

These are the types of questions you should be asking your stakeholders:

  • What problem(s) are you trying to solve?

  • What leads you to believe that your managers need training?

  • What do you need to improve?

From these questions, and further probing, you should be able to come up with a general aim for the overall project. Something like this:

'We want the managers to be able to give effective feedback in order that they can improve performance'.

Having arrived at this aim, to get to the next level, of defining performance objectives, you need to ask more questions:

  • If we achieve this, what will it give you?

  • What will that look like?

  • How will you measure that?

  • What have you tried already?

Typical answers might be:

  1. “We will have more engaged staff”

  2. “We will have more effective staff”

  3. “We will have fewer repeat discussions around certain topics, because they will be clear about what they need to do”

  4. “ There will be less people on performance improvement plans”

  5. “Increased productivity”

Some of these can be measured in monetary terms and others would require more probing to get to that point. Which items could we find a monetary value for and which would we be looking at an ROE (return on expectations)?

Employee engagement can be measured and also linked to long-term issues such as retention, but to get actual financial measures may not initially be possible, depending on how clued up the stakeholders are about what engagement means to them. This may fall in to the ROE category.

Looking at answer number two, 'effective' could mean:

  • Producing more

  • In less time

  • Fewer errors

  • Fewer complaints

All of which can be measured directly as having a financial impact. If there are fewer repeat discussions and performance improvement plans, the line manager could estimate how much time he/she could save per year and that could then be translated into a financial benefit.

So let’s put together some performance objectives for the team/organisation that will help them meet their aim:

  • To reduce the number of performance improvement plans from six to one per year

  • To increase productivity by 5% annually

  • To increase employee engagement from 75% to 80% within a year

Now what knowledge, skills and attitudes, do they need to have in order that they meet these objectives?

Let’s look at some good words for the knowledge objectives:

  • Name

  • Specify

  • Describe

  • List

From these the best fit would be 'describe' and 'list', e.g.:

By the end of the day, you will be able to...

  • Describe accurately, two feedback models and their application, without reference to notes.

  • In a group, be able to list the benefits of using effective feedback skills, for the team and the organisation.

For the skills:

By the end of the day, you will be able to...

Conduct an effective 1-2-1 meeting in a role play situation, giving feedback using one of two models.

And finally for the attitudinal aspect:

By the end of the day, you will be able to...

Advocate the use of regular and effective feedback, to your peers, in the development of team performance.

These are all put together using Robert Mager’s framework for objectives:

Performance – what do you want them to do?

Conditions – under what conditions? (unaided, with notes etc)

Standards – how accurately? (error-free?)

Going back to those all important objectives, having read this article and watched the videos you will be able to, with reference to this article:

  • Define Return on Investment (ROI)

  • Define Return on Expectations (ROE) and how it relates to ROI

  • Explain the importance of objective setting for ROI, ROE and training/learning

  • Work through an example of how to set objectives for ROI and learning for a given example (e.g. feedback skills)

Have a read of part one here and part two here

Krystyna Gadd Assoc CIPD is founder of How to Accelerate Learning and creator of the Learning Loop. For more info watch this short video and contact her to find out more and book a no-fee consultation. Click here for more info about Krystyna's Learning Loop. It is a great way to make sure you are all working to the same framework and it will help you not only to engage the stakeholders but the learners too

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