3 Ways To Prove Your L&D Impact

February 2, 2023
June 26, 2023

Would you care how much time employees spent on a course if it had a measurable influence on their performance?

Of course not.

Because it’s the solving of the business problem that matters – now that’s a far more useful measure of L&D’s impact.

The point isn’t for people to learn and know an answer to a question. It’s for people to apply what they’ve learned to create a tangible outcome.

And this all influences what and how we measure in L&D!

Watch HowNow CEO, Nelson Sivalingam, explain the 3 ways you can prove your L&D impact 👇

The current problem with how most companies measure L&D impact

😄 36% of L&D teams evaluate impact based on participant satisfaction.

🧠 18% on a change in knowledge or skills.

🤯 And just 8% assess the impact of learning on the wider organisation!

The bigger question is why L&D isn’t acting in its best interest! 70% said they were feeling pressured to demonstrate the business impact of learning, and less than 10% are even close to collecting the right data.

The good news is that we can rebuild our mindset towards L&D measurement, starting right now.

The three types of L&D impact data that’ll help you measure better

One: Proof of knowledge

This is where a learner demonstrates knowledge as a result of a learning experience.

We’d typically measure this through scores on a test, how people perform in structured discussions, or with a knowledge-sharing exercise like creating a blog post or presentation that demonstrations what they took from the experience.

Proof of knowledge explained

Example: Someone watches a cycling video but doesn’t necessarily know how to cycle, just what to do in theory.

Remember: Just because someone has understood what they need to do, it doesn’t mean they know how to do it.

What can L&D do? Ensure that when you design learning experiences, you are going beyond proof of impact on the measurement front.

Two: Proof of skill

Now we’re getting closer because the employee is demonstrating what they can do as a result of learning.  

And by connecting learning to doing, we can get a better idea of whether there’s been an influence on performance. At the same time, those opportunities to apply information can motivate employees and become valuable to managers.

We might measure these by setting a simulation, stretch assignment, or project for someone. By the same token, we could use observation and feedback from others to measure that application too.

Proof of skill explained

Example: We now get on our bike and start to peddle, showing we can apply what we’ve learned.

Remember: Stretch assignments, simulations and projects all need to be created in context. What’s the current experience level? How can we get them applying information in something that feels like the real thing? Who do we connect them with? And which problems are we trying to solve?

What can L&D do? Remember that any proof of skill is only as good as its assessor, and that doesn’t mean going as far up the org chart as you can. It means finding a pool of three to five experts on that subject.

These first two indicate impact on individual performance, but they don’t demonstrate an improvement in business performance…

Three: Proof of performance

Proof of knowledge and skill are leading indicators that the learning will impact an individual’s performance, but proof of performance is what captures a measure improvement in business performance.

Basically, the skill is applied to solve a business challenge – which only works if we know which problem we’re trying to solve and what it’ll look like when we’ve solved it.

Is that challenge in reducing customer complaints? Or increasing the sales pipeline?

And how do we know when learning is driving the desired outcome? This comes from working with stakeholders to establish metrics and then using data to understand when learning has influenced an aspect of performance.

Proof of performance explained

Example: This is now when we get on a bike and ride it from A to B, which is a tangible goal we could establish from the start and then connect learning back to the outcome.

How do we measure proof of performance?

In a nutshell, we have to use qualitative and quantitative data together. We can’t just assume that because a certain metric has moved in the right direction, learning is the cause.

How to prove L&D impact using qualitative and quantitative data

Once we’ve noticed that metric heading where we want it, we’ve got to speak with stakeholders and learners to understand the role learning has played.

The sales pipeline might have increased with zero influence from the learning experience OR a certain part of it might have driven a rep’s performance to a new level. You won’t know until you ask…

Five final tips for measuring proof of performance

  • Define the problem accurately.
  • Collect your baseline metrics.
  • Start small, think big – what can you test quickly without sinking lots of time and resources into?
  • Use qualitative feedback channels to understand what’s changed and why.
  • Design learning experiences to continuously collect and analyse data that demonstrates impact.