Facilitator, Formal learning, Training

Learning Event Measurement for Non-L&D Folk

A quick 5 in 5 on why we should be measuring learning events in the workplace!


1. Why should I be measuring learning ?

It’s important to measure learning events so you can ensure that your intended outcomes translate into behaviour change or action within the workplace.

Evaluating training, seminars, workshops or events that you have put time into developing is important so you can:

  • Find out if your learning event had the intended outcome
  • If your learners didn’t get the required outcomes from the event, you can find out if there’s anything you need to follow up on (e.g. extra resources, follow up training etc.)
  • Reflect on what went well and could be improved next time to help you embed continuous learning to how you develop your people.


2. What do you mean by ‘learning event’?

If you have developed/delivered a training/event/workshop/seminar for staff or volunteers. This might be as simple as a two-hour face to face training session or a series of workshops or experiences that build into a ‘program’.


3. What if I think I need more comprehensive measurement?

You might do! If you’re doing a large scale project/change/series of events I would recommend a more detailed approach to measurement than a standard event follow up survey.

For example in some situations it may make sense to test your learner’s knowledge of the topic prior to the learning event/s so you can ask the same questions after and see the impact of your approach.

Alternatively in some situations it may make sense to survey both the learner and their manager to discuss change of behaviour from both perspectives.

A word of warning though – you don’t want to disengage your stakeholders through asking too much of them!


4. How do I measure?

You want to be careful that you’re measuring with a purpose – so don’t ask anything of your learners that isn’t going to feed in to constructive analysis afterwards.

Check out this great basic analysis on Kirkpatrick’s four-level evaluation model from Mind Tools.

This PDF of possible training questions is a good start – but it leans towards the old-school ‘happy sheet’ model where impact on, and change to, behaviour isn’t measured.

I recommend choosing a couple of questions around the experience of the learning event and then focusing most of your questions on what impact your learning event had on your main objective. This might be something like ‘increasing amount of time customer service staff spend making potential customers feel welcome in store prior to engaging in sales’, or ‘sharing personal personality testing results to enable constructive conflict to happen within our team’.

Once you’ve defined your primary objective it should be much easier to build a couple of questions around assessing the impact of your learning event on changing behaviour in this space.


5. What tools can I use?

Well you can go old school – forms at the end of the session. But for your convenience – as well as some additional analytics tools – I recommend using something like Survey Monkey to send out your survey electronically. It’s free to use and is a great starting point for  gathering data on your learning events.



Soft or Hard Skills?

This topic brings back flashes (mostly traumatic) of conversations with many managers over the years of why it was important to not just focus on one. Lets start with the basics:

What Soft & Hard Skills Are

Skills that involve emotional intelligence are often referred to as ‘soft’ – this could be anything from having performance management training, customer service or understanding the vision and mission of your organisation. Skills that involve technical competencies are then referred to as ‘hard’ – these are skills like how to operate machinery, use the intranet or meet health and safety compliance training needs.

To put it simply, both of these sets of skills are crucial for a functioning business; ‘hard’ skills because you need people who are technically capable of doing the job they were hired to do, and ‘soft’ skills because to have a effective business you need to have some form of structure and have people that are able to manage others.

Do Operations Focus on Hard Skills Too Much?

I often see organisations who promote really incredible operational/technical people into management because that is, in many instances, the only way to ‘move someone up’ the career ladder/reward them for hard work. We think: if Jared is great at his job and the team looks up to him why wouldn’t we promote him?

Well there a few reasons why
– Has Jared received any management training?
– Does Jared realise that a large part of any management role is looking after and developing their team rather than doing the specialist work themselves?
– How will Jared cope with becoming ‘the boss’ to people that were his peers?
– What development has Jared received in thinking about where he would like his career to go? Is this something he wants to do?

Now – I’m not saying don’t promote Jared. He may become an incredible manager. But often Jared is promoted and the soft skills, the skills that enable him to become a great manager, develop his people (and you know, avoid potential employment lawsuits) are undervalued.

This is why HR often seem to be ‘pushing’ soft skills training on the business. Its not because hard skills aren’t important, its because most operational managers often already spend a great deal of time in that area, sometimes leaving the ‘soft’/people skill development in their team underdeveloped.

So What To Do?

– What can you get for your budget? This will be dependant on things like if you are in a city where there are a lot of competing training providers, whether the training topic is expensive (the more specialist a skill is usually the more is charged by training providers), does the training have to be certified etc.
– Do you have access to internal trainers? These might not be fulltime trainers – they might just be staff who have a lot of experience with the topic
– Is formal training really the answer? Sometimes we go straight for formal training when there are lots of other ways we could address an issue: coaching with other staff, utilising free resources from the internet (check out coachingourselves.com/resources/70-20-10 for info on the 70:20:10 model), having a ‘Lunch & Learn’ (where you have an informal training/experience sharing session with a provided lunch) etc. 

There is no easy answer here – both hard and soft skills are important, although I would argue that both are equally important to your bottom line. Consider conducting a TNA (training needs analysis) to prioritise your teams needs, and remember that not everything requires plonking someone in a training course – informal coaching can make a world of difference.