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The Effective Use Of Training KPI's

May 9, 2008
The use of key performance indicators, often abbreviated as KPI's, is quickly becoming a standard management tool. These key performance indicators, as their name implies, are measurable parameters that can help managers evaluate various aspects of an organization's performance. The use of KPI's - which are more or less objective ways of measuring performance - helps to quantify and systematize the management approach, in effect taking inspiration from the scientific method. The bottom line is encapsulated in a fairly recent saying: "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."

The concept of KPI's is applied to a lot of different managerial aspects, from the business and financial realm to human resources and training. Profits, sales, and other money figures figure prominently as key performance indicators in the former, while a different set of parameters are used for the latter.

Training and human resource management, in the past, were overshadowed by the financial considerations. This was due to, of course, the prevailing mindset and values among managers at the time: profits are everything. This mentality was reflected in the management methods and tools that were used in the past, which basically neglected to quantify the effects and results of human resource development.

However in recent times the value of investing in human capital has been more and more appreciated. This can be traced, perhaps, to a major change in the dynamics of the marketplace. With the advent of the Internet and globalization, change - and even system-wide change - has become an essential factor. To deal with this, businesses and organizations have to be able to react in an appropriate and timely manner. Hence the emerging need for smart, well-trained employees who are capable of the shifts and changes these reactions would consist of.

Now, the type and duration of training would of course differ from case to case, depending on the jobs a particular group of employees are expected to be responsible for. And over and above their specific duties, usually the organization's own goals and objectives have some part to play in determining the type of training. This means that in most cases the selection of useful key performance indicators depends heavily on the particular context. However, some categories and examples of training KPI's may still be enumerated.

In terms of results, one might measure returns on investment, as well as new behaviors arising from the training. In terms of customer relations, one might look at satisfaction levels. In terms of the training process itself, one might choose to look at learner reactions and training objectives delivered. And finally in terms of people, one could look at the percent completion of personal development objectives, or the skills matrix for learning and development staff.

These are just examples of training key performance indicators, and as mentioned above, the proper selection would require a closer look at each particular case. These training KPI's, if selected properly, can help any manager get a firm grasp of how the training is progressing, and whether any changes need to be made. Good management of the training program, in turn, will lead to better, more capable, more dynamic human resources.
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