Inspiring And Enabling People
To Make A Difference
The ROI guru Jack Phillips defines return on investment (ROI) as a measure of the financial benefits obtained by an organisation, over a specified period, in return for a given investment in a training programme. In other words, it is the extent to which the benefits (outputs) of training exceed the costs (inputs). However, many organisations do not even attempt to measure it and, in our opinion, very wisely.
The models for measuring the effectiveness of training fail to account for several “other factors” that can alter the impact that training has. For example, all of the following could impact an individual’s ability to implement what they have learned, both negatively and positively;
- Their line manager
- The speed with which they are able to utilise their new skills
- Their personal learning style
- Their aptitude for the specific training
- The volume of change in the workplace
- Their time in role
- The habits and routines of their co-workers
- The degree to which the training is followed up and reinforced.
If any one of these is significantly skewed, the effectiveness of the training will be almost impossible to measure beyond what we like to call the “Happy Sheets” handed out at the end of the course. Any uplift in the financial returns of the organisation is therefore also difficult to attribute to any training. So what can we do?
Well, the key is to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Whilst absolute figures should be marked with the type of warning normally reserved for toxic waste, there is no harm in assessing general trends and seeking feedback from the workforce on their perceived improvements. For example, the improvement figures we quote for our Mastering Time training have all been gathered and submitted by the trainees themselves. It is their figures that suggest that the course routinely deliver them an additional 22 days a year to focus on their top priorities, not ours.
Another useful measure of training effectiveness is the ability of the trainees to carry out a task utilising a new skill. Whilst this is a relatively crude measurement, it usually elicits some incredible data – the majority of which is negative. This is because all skill-based training requires practical application for it to become part of the unconscious skillset of the trainee. All too often, due to many of the inhibiting factors in the list above, this does not happen and – retraining becomes standard practice.
We spend most of our training budgets on skills based training because, despite all the challenges associated with making the training “stick”; over the long term, it does work. However, we also intuitively know that we could be doing it far more effectively. We rely, as a rule, on the other people in the workplace to reinforce the training and support their colleagues as they practice their new skills. These “other people” are a silent army of unpaid, unappreciated and unofficial mentors. Herein lays an incredibly exciting opportunity. What if we tapped in to this under-utilised resource and magnified their impact, how much more could we do, how much faster could we travel?
Much of what people do in their unofficial mentoring role is unstructured and ill-defined and with almost no follow-up. The individual is left to piece together multiple “gems” and effectively construct their own way of doing things. This leads to inconsistency and increased risk in the workplace. With just a small tweak we can totally transform the workplace and enhance one metric familiar to modern Execs – workplace morale.
This tweak is a structured Mentoring programme. How does mentoring help? Well, Mentoring brings value to everyone involved in its practice: mentees, mentors and the organization(s) for which they work. Mentees have an opportunity to gain wisdom from someone who has travelled the path before them. Mentors have an opportunity to invest themselves in someone who seeks what they can offer. The organization has the opportunity to share and spread its acquired learning and know-how. In addition to those who are directly involved in its practice, a recognised mentoring scheme also helps the workplace as a whole because it fosters an environment in which people work together and assist one another in their drive to become better skilled, more intelligent individuals.
The measurable benefits of mentoring will follow but don’t lose sight of the very tangible soft benefits which include, but are not limited to;
- Allows for increased self-awareness and self-discipline
- Provides an expanded personal network
- Offers a proven method to share ideas, try new skills and take risks
- Enhances the capacity to translate values and strategies into productive actions
- Improves awareness of personal biases, assumptions and areas for improvement
- Increases technical and professional expertise
- Creates a culture of acceptance and inclusion
- Reinforces cultural norms and values
- Allows mentees to have a smoother transition into the workforce to further professional career development
- Renews mentors’ enthusiasm for their role as expert.
And, for the bottom line focused amongst you, academic and industry institutions have been gathering data for well over a decade now and the highlights include;
- 77% of companies report that mentoring programs were effective in increasing retention
- Turnover reductions of 20% with mentoring.
- 75% of executives point to mentoring as playing a key role in their careers.
- Managerial productivity increased by 88% when mentoring was involved, versus only a 24% increase with training alone
- 95% of mentoring participants said the experience motivated them to do their very best.
- More than 60% of graduate students listed mentoring as a criterion for selecting an employer after graduation
- 35% of CFOs said the single greatest benefit of working with a mentor was having a confidant and advisor
- Professionals who have had mentors earn between £5,610 and £22,450 more annually than those who have not.
The single biggest advantage of a structured mentoring programme is that it helps employees contribute faster. They understand how to get things done in the system and also where they can add most value immediately.
For more on Mentoring from a personal perspective, download “My Mentoring Handbook” from this page.