Does Employee Development Work?

You might think that’s an odd question given how much time and money companies spend on it. However, they rarely go back and examine whether or not performance improved or what they can do to ensure that it does next time.  Why is that?

Part of the reason is that organizational development specialists aren’t really trained do so.  Also, since the need for training is intuitive, management is not hard pressed to justify the value of it.  Note that this becomes a real problem when budgets are cut as training is almost always one of the first things to go.  Why?  Because its value hasn’t been documented.  Acquiring these kinds of measurement skills or resources would actually help organizational development professionals keep their jobs as they would then be spending time/money on initiatives that work and could show their value.

I had an employee development project with a client where we had the data to measure the results. First, we measured performance and assessed key skills. Then the group received training based on overall results and individuals received training based on their individual needs. After eight months time we went back and measured performance (see below).

What did we find? There were some areas of performance where there was significant group improvement. In other areas there were not (there wasn’t a decrease in performance in any area). However, we now know which areas are still trouble spots for the team and which ones are not. Therefore, training dollars and time can be spent in areas where they are needed.

I’ll be clear about my bias here:  Money spent on valid pre-employment or promotional assessments bring a much greater return than money spent on development.  However, there will always be need to improve the skills of your current workforce.

Training/Development initiatives should be approached with the goal of improving performance (and not doing better on a test).  Once the performance area is identified, you should be able benchmark current levels and compare them to post-training levels to provide an indication of success.  Sure, a control group would also be nice, but not always practical.

Evaluating the effectiveness of employee development isn’t easy, but it can and should be done. To learn more about how to do it, or this particular project, send me an e-mail using this link.

For more information on  skills assessment, and talent management, please contact Warren at 310 670-4175 or [email protected]

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