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We Need To Talk About Your Return On Investment For L&D!

🪑 Does a bum on a seat count as a return on your investment?

💯 How about 100% completion of a course?

📝 Or internal surveys showing eight out of 10 people now feel you’re investing in their development, when it was four before.

No, nope and closer, but no.

The current problem with the ROI for learning and development conversation

It’s the metrics people are looking at! They’re often vanity ones, built around the consumption of learning and training, but completely missing whether it made someone better at their job.

It’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Just because I spend five days at a leadership course, it doesn’t mean I’m a better leader.

And it all starts with a mindset shift. We should care less about hours and outputs, and more about outcomes.

It starts with establishing what success looks like

L&D doesn’t achieve ROI by setting our own goals and trying to reach those, it comes from driving performance and behaviour change.

Ask yourself: What led us to this point?

The need for an L&D team or strategy would have been driven by a real business problem or challenge.

New starters weren’t ramping up fast enough, or the sales cycle was just too long.

And there are metrics attached to those that tell us whether we’re winning or losing! If the onboarding or sales cycle is currently 45 days and the target is 30, we can build learning initiatives to tackle those and measure if they helped.

Just remember that you should also collect qualitative insights to paint a complete picture of whether learning helped, in which situations and to what extent.

Ask yourself: What are the overall business goals?

Business case and buy-in are two of the buzzwords that always pop up in this conversation.

But it’s more simple than that. It’s a case of identifying the business or department goals and aligning with them.

If you can help diagnose the problems and challenges stopping them from reaching those goals, and deliver learning that helps overcome them, you’ll show the value of learning.

And that not only makes you more likely to get buy-in, it gives you real stories and testimonials about your impact.

Which presents a business case all by itself because the perceived value of L&D and evidence of your contribution is high!

Ask yourself: What’s the North Star for L&D?

We often talk about the importance of building a learning brand as a means of communicating L&D’s value, and like every good brand, you’ll need a mission and vision statement for learning.

What is the long-term goal or North Star for L&D? It might be democratising learning, building a search-first culture, or empowering people to learn independently, but it helps to know what you want to be known for.

If you’ve not heard of the objectives and key results (OKR) model for goal setting, it might help here by building tangible and measurable outcomes you can attach to that North Star.

If we are aiming for that search-first or self-directed culture as an objective, we could break it down into things like:

  • Reduce the number of Slack messages for ‘Where can I find…’ from X to Y.
  • Increase the number of searches in our learning space to A.
  • Find B internal experts to create C number of resources.

But at the same time, remember that these could easily become vanity metrics in their own right. So we should think of these as part of that overall mission to drive behaviour change and performance.

Let’s say we need a self-directed culture because we work across multiple time zones, and our customer response time is suffering while we wait for internal responses. Our L&D goal can be directly linked back to overcoming that challenge.

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