Metrics that Matter to CEOs

My last Sticky Note focused on how to involve your CEO and other senior leaders in making learning stick. As I promised at the end of it, this Sticky Note will take a look at evaluation metrics that matter to CEOs.

For quite a few years now, we in the HR and HRD fields have recognized the need to evaluate the effectiveness of training. Donald Kirkpatrick’s now-famous four levels of training evaluation were first introduced in 1956. (A fifth level – Impact – was added a few years ago.) Since that time the need for more and better evaluation – that is, for evaluation “above level 1” has generally been acknowledged in the training community. In fact, measuring the success of learning and development still earns a place among the critical issues in the learning and development field, according to training measurement gurus Jack and Patti Phillips.

What interests CEOs. According to a survey of 96 CEOs of large organizations, public and private, the following are what CEOs are most interested in, as measurement of the effectiveness of learning and development activities in their organizations.

1 = highest ranking

Adapted from: Measuring What Matters, by Jack and Patti Phillips,  T+D, August 2009

Very interesting…… There seems to be an inverse relationship between what CEOs believe is important to measure and what is in fact measured in their organizations (and I suspect in most organizations). The higher the importance of any particular measurement, the less likely it is to be measured!

Is your organization measuring what really matters to your CEO and senior leadership?

A word about evaluation at level 3, application (did it stick?). While CEOs ranked it 3 (tied with awards), this level deserves a closer look. In order to evaluate the Impact or the Results (which ranked higher in importance on the CEO’s list), you either must assume that participants are using on the job what they have learned (and this is a dangerous assumption!), or you need to conduct a level 3 evaluation in order to evaluate at levels 4 or 5.  In other words, a level 3 evaluation can be an end in itself or a means to an end for level 4/5 evaluation.

Does your organization evaluate the application (also known as the “behavior” or “transfer” level) of skills learned in training? If so, I’d like to hear from you! I’ll send a FREE copy of my newest book, Making Learning Stick, to the first 10 people who share their best practices for level 3 evaluation.

Until next time…..


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