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Don’t Forget Soft Metrics when Evaluating Training Success

MEASURINGBecause the first aim of training is to improve the way people do things, all training programs measure hard metrics like these after training is done:

  • Are our salespeople making more sales calls, closing more sales, or increasing the size of the average order?
  • Have our product assemblers increased their output and reduced the number of quality defects?
  • Are our phone reps now resolving more customer issues on the first call?
  • How many more positive reviews are we getting online?
  • Six months after training ends, are more customers placing repeat orders?

Without metrics like those, how will you know whether your training has achieved its goals or repaid your investment?

What About Soft Metrics?

Soft metrics have to do less with observable performance, and more to do with attitudes. They too are measured before and after training as a way to evaluate results. Some examples:

  • Do members of your hotel’s front desk staff feel calmer and more confident about resolving customer complaints?
  • Do your new hires now feel more enthusiastic about working for your company than they did before training began?
  • Do employees now expect to remain at your company for longer periods of time?
  • Has training improved employees’ attitudes?

Soft metrics can help predict how “sticky” your training will be. For example, employees who feel dramatically more committed to your company will be less likely to fall back into old patterns in the months after training ends.

Another reason to measure soft metrics is that they help you identify any extra benefits your training achieved. The primary purpose of your training was to teach your restaurant workers to deliver better customer service, for example, but they also became bigger believers in your brand.

The Art of Measuring Soft Metrics

There is an incorrect assumption that it is difficult to collect data on soft metrics. In fact, soft metrics can be measured by having trainees complete surveys or have interviews with members of your training or HR team.

Another way to gauge soft metrics is to measure behaviors. After training your call center staffers, for example, do they arrive more punctually and call in sick less often? That could indicate improved motivation and morale. Or after training your retail salespeople, has the rate of their retention improved after six months or a year? That could indicate that your training made their jobs less stressful and more satisfying.

Mixing the Hard with the Soft Yields a Fuller Picture or Results

When evaluating training success, it is not a question of measuring hard metrics versus soft metrics. Why not measure both? Think of them as different tiles in a larger mosaic that yields a picture of everything your training is accomplishing.

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