Don’t take the risk of delivering training without ROI – “See it. Say it. Sorted.”

Don’t take the risk of delivering training without ROI – “See it. Say it. Sorted.”

I apologise if you hate it, but I am personally a fan of the ear-worm catch-phrase used by the UK rail networks’ security authorities: “See it. Say it. Sorted.” It encourages the travelling population to take responsibility for their own safety, as well as the safety of their fellow travellers.

I like its simplicity. Noticing that something needs doing, and then doing something about it, followed by the dopamine hit of closing off the task. I also like it’s a thinly veiled encouragement to take responsibility.

It strikes me that we could borrow this phrase, if we are looking to prove that we are delivering a good return on investment from our training activities. We want to create a safe feeling that L&D investment is worthwhile.

Why do I suggest this?

Since First Ascent began (20 years ago) we have been surprised by how many training companies are unwilling to back-up their claims of impact with financial guarantees of performance. Get-out clauses such as “we cannot guarantee results as we are not selecting the delegates”, or “there are too many other factors at play to isolate the impact of our training”, proliferate in our sector. As Donald Trump might say, they are claiming “Fake Truths”.

What is also noticeable, is that many L&D teams are also unwilling to set financial impact targets against the training they are designing, delivering or commissioning.

This is all very baffling, as our experience suggests that if we “See it”, then “Say it”, the “Sorted” will easily follow.

Here is what I mean:

  1. See it: This is actually the easy part because we can all see that in an ideal world we would like to demonstrate the impact of training (or coaching) investments. It would make life so much easier each time you ask for budget, if you could predict the financial returns alongside some of the other business cases, rather than rely on the “trust me” argument.

  2. Say it: This is the part that needs bravery. Let’s just say it out loud – training spend should deliver a significant return on investment, otherwise it is not worth doing. If you cannot prove a return, we should all go home and just give up the L&D budget to the marketing team (who will always make a good argument for it) or simply give it to the shareholders as more profit.

    If you can bring yourself to state that the return on training needs to be measured, then you can focus on the practicalities of doing just that. It simply requires the bravery to set targets, have the discipline to measure the outcomes (Kirkpatrick Level 4 methodology is perfect) and then hold yourself accountable. It may feel uncomfortable, but you must be willing to adjust or cancel training if targets are not being hit.

  3. Sorted: In our experience, if L&D professionals do the above, it is entirely possible (even with great conservatism) to evidence between a 25x and 60x return on investment (over 5 years) on the cost of training. We have been able to do this, consistently, by encouraging our clients to set measurable outcome targets and then allowing us to take responsibility for delivering those outcomes.

So, take a leaf from the script of the station announcer at Kings Cross, Victoria and every other station: See it. Say it. Sorted. Let’s usher in an era of feeling safe in the knowledge that what you spend your training time and budget on is truly delivering return on investment for your organisation.

If you would like to find out more about measuring training impact, then please get in touch. We’d be delighted to help you be brave, feel safer and know you have Sorted it!

Author: David Sales. Director, First Ascent.


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