Okay – so I’ve been working on a client project that is all about assessing performance and measuring and evaluating training programs (and other non-training interventions as well). And the model that the client uses is the Phillips’ 5 Levels – with that fifth level being a measure of ROI.
First off – why oh why do some in the training biz feel so compelled to speak in terms of ROI? Training is not and has never been considered an ‘investment’ by the budget gods in corporate leadership. So, who are we trying to kid here? If training programs are not really investments, then we cannot speak about a return on something that they aren’t.
Years ago I attended a little presentation where the speaker basically said that training departments are more like the air conditioning repair staff. When the weather turns bad, hot and humid – and when the a/c is broken, then and only then is the repair person the most important person to the organization. No one thinks of the repair staff in terms of ‘investment’ though. That’s because they’re not.
Okay – so I’m working on this project … the client is pummeling me with the “fact” that ROI is an important and valid measure of training results. They’ve bought into the Phillips’ model fully.
Unfortunately the client organization is going through some tough times. They are not immune to the current economic downturn. So they are making difficult decisions – looking at ways to reduce expenses (this is an important word!). Reducing staff count and exerting tighter budget control is all part of it.
And what might be among the first things to get slashed? Yep! Training expenditures.
In other words, training is not an investment. To them it is an expense.