“How do you know if your training actually has an impact?” It’s a question I hear often, especially regarding soft skills training. It all starts with a needs assessment. When I’ve led teams, the easiest way I’ve found to assess needs, recommend training and then measure results is through a professional development plan (PDP). If training isn’t tied to a need, if it’s not written down and if an employee isn’t held accountable for improved performance, the impact of the training will not be fully realized.
Here is a generic version of a professional development plan based upon one that I’ve found to be quite effective.
I like this PDP format because it illustrates how metrics and key performance indicators should be directly tied to soft skills. Metrics and numbers tell a story, but what is that story? Are performance numbers down because of team dynamics and dysfunction? Then perhaps a focus on teambuilding skills would be appropriate. Are quarterly results suffering because team members haven’t established the correct priorities? Perhaps time management is an area that needs to be improved.
Identifying baseline performance metrics, identifying appropriate learning opportunities (training on hard or soft skills) that should impact those performance metrics, then monitoring those performance metrics and results to identify if there has been improvement in those metrics is how I can feel confident that training is effective.
I’ll write it again: if training isn’t formally tied to a need, however, its full effectiveness will not be felt.
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