There are many facets to measuring training success, each with unique potential to showcase value using metrics and application-based knowledge. For example, instructor-led training (ILT) might be measured with both surveys to measure feelings and assessments to measure understanding of the content, which can paint a compelling picture of the successes and opportunities for the training program. These learner-driven insights are critical to an L&D professional because they can be used to gain support from organizational stakeholders using their own employee’s words — it doesn’t get much easier than that!
However, stopping here can be a detriment to the long-term partnerships necessary for continued learning growth. This is because most leaders want to know how the information will be applied in relation to the learner’s role, not just how it was retained in the classroom. Thus, the need for measuring on-the-job training (OJT) and how information is applied becomes clear. But how can an L&D professional do this without being in the role they train for?
This article provides key tips and tricks to start measuring the success of OJT regardless of the size of your learning function.
Tip No. 1: Understand the Current OJT Process
Before measuring anything OJT related, you must understand the current process. If stakeholders say there is no learning available to employees in certain roles, they may be limiting how they define “learning.” For successful training outcomes, there’s always a form of OJT that should occur. While job shadowing, role-playing and coaching are common examples, the method depends on the individual type of role and level of practice needed to perform key job responsibilities and tasks effectively. Some questions to ask the stakeholders to better understand the OJT process would be:
- What do you have the learners do after learning new content (e.g., practice, shadow a tenured employee, etc.)?
- Are there any role-specific resources you have the learner review prior to getting started (e.g., job aids, procedures, etc.)?
- What does mastery of the role look like/what indicates a top performer in the role (e.g., metrics used, personality traits, etc.)?
Asking these discovery questions can allow an L&D professional to better understand the OJT that occurs in the role and set them up for success when it comes to continued support in learning initiatives.
Before measuring anything OJT related, you must understand the current process.
Tip No. 2: Develop a Consistent Measurement Plan
Once you have an idea of what to measure, the next step is to determine how you will do it. In many cases, organizations use a checklist of sorts to monitor a learner’s OJT plan. In other situations, organizations rely on qualitative feedback from observations to track the learner’s time participating in OJT. Regardless of the collection process used, L&D professionals must ensure it is consistent. To do so, some deeper questions must be asked to stakeholders, such as:
- Which people are responsible for a learner’s OJT (e.g., their leader, a subject matter expert, etc.)?
- Which types of documentation occur throughout their OJT (e.g., physical checklist, surveys, etc.)?
- Where is the documentation stored after training completion (e.g., with the leaders, in a filing cabinet, etc.)?
- How could that documentation be automated?
The final question above is essential to making the measurement plan easy and sustainable — if you can automate the OJT collection process using existing tools, the burden of collecting the documentation diminishes. These existing tools could be a learning management system (LMS), a communication tool already used by the organization, or a site that generates graphs based on survey responses. Whichever your organization decides to use, the strengths of both technology and learning administration are important investments in a consistent OJT measurement plan.
Tip No. 3: Be Communicative
The key to any partnership is communication and the L&D professional measuring the success of OJT should be ready to share findings such as:
- Strengths of the current process.
- Recommendations to improve the consistency of OJT.
- Trends from the data.
Sharing these details in easy-to-understand formats can help demonstrate the value added by having L&D involved in the OJT process. In doing so, your L&D function can become a better strategic partner for the organization through data-driven and application-based success measurement.
By Parker Donnafield, CPTM