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Is L&D Fundamentally Different Than Other HR Disciplines?

Is L&D Fundamentally Different Than Other HR Disciplines?

By Dave Vance

I just attended my first “HR” conference. I normally attend L&D – focused conferences like ATD, CLO Symposium, and Skillsoft Perspectives. This conference was 2.5 days and while it had an L&D track, the primary focus of the other four tracks and all the main session topics were on other aspects of HR like talent acquisition.

The conference certainly broadened my understanding of the challenges and issues facing our colleagues in other HR departments. It also provided a much better basis for answering the perennial question of whether L&D “belongs” in HR. I used to answer that question somewhat ambiguously by saying that HR was probably the best fit for most (but not all) L&D functions. (Note: At Caterpillar the L&D function was within the Human Services Division.) My first impression after the 2.5 days is that L&D may indeed be fundamentally different and may not be best positioned in HR.

Here is what struck me and I wonder if you have seen the same in any HR conferences you may have attended. I did not hear a single speaker talk about HR as a direct contributor to achieving the annual business goals of the organization, like increasing sales by 10% or reducing operating costs by 5%. They talked about how HR can help achieve long-run goals like developing a more diverse workforce and ensuring that the right workforce will be in place in five years. They talked about the important role of HR in managing the leadership pipeline and improving the performance management process. Don’t misunderstand me, these are all important goals but they will contribute INDIRECTLY to achieving the long-term business goals and even more indirectly to this year’s business goals.

Speakers also talked about big data and talent analytics and how these can help address current business issues like finding the best candidates for open positions or the best place to locate a new office. Again, very important and issues that HR is now better positioned than ever before to address. But there was no mention of current business plan goals like increasing sales by 10% and how HR might directly contribute.

Using the language of TDRp, the measures in support of these HR initiatives were primarily efficiency measures like number of hires, diversity of the workforce, and cost per hire. There were a few effectiveness, like bench strength and quality of hire. But there were no outcome measures which we define as the direct impact of HR initiatives on organization (business) goals. When speakers talked about goals, they were really talking about efficiency or effectiveness goals – not business goals. So, they talked about how HR initiatives would help accomplish HR goals.

Now, contrast this with L&D’s ability to directly impact business or organizational goals. Think about the common business goals like increasing sales, reducing costs, improving quality or productivity, and reducing injuries. In most organizations, L&D can and typically does contribute directly to achieving these goals. Consequently, we have outcome measures for L&D to measure our impact on these goals. (Of course, L&D can often also contribute to HR goals like improving employee engagement and leadership.)

So, perhaps L&D is fundamentally different than other HR disciplines because we can directly impact many, if not all, business goals. Initiatives from other HR functions play an important role in enabling organizational success in the current year and in the future, but often are not direct contributors. More thought is required here.

Get to Know Your Board Member (Patti Phillips)

Patti Phillips

Dr. Patti Phillips is president and CEO of the ROI Institute, Inc., the leading source of ROI competency building, implementation support, networking, and research. A renowned expert in measurement and evaluation, she helps organizations implement the ROI Methodology in 50 countries around the world.

Since 1997, following a 13-year career in the electric utility industry, Phillips has embraced the ROI Methodology by committing herself to ongoing research and practice. To this end, she has implemented ROI in private sector and public sector organizations. She has conducted ROI impact studies on programs such as leadership development, sales, new-hire orientation, human performance improvement, K-12 educator development, and educators’ National Board Certification mentoring.

Phillips teaches others to implement the ROI Methodology through the ROI Certification process, as a facilitator for ASTD’s ROI and Measuring and Evaluating Learning Workshops, and as professor of practice for The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Campus Ph.D. in Human Capital Development program. She also serves as adjunct faculty for the UN System Staff College in Turin, Italy, where she teaches the ROI Methodology through their Evaluation and Impact Assessment Workshop and Measurement for Results-Based Management. She serves on numerous doctoral dissertation committees, assisting students as they develop their own research on measurement, evaluation, and ROI.

Phillips’s academic accomplishments include a Ph.D. in International Development and a master’s degree in Public and Private Management. She is a certified in ROI evaluation and has been awarded the designations of Certified Professional in Learning and Performance and Certified Performance Technologist.

She, along with her husband Jack Phillips, contributes to a variety of journals and has authored a number of books on the subject of accountability and ROI, including Survey Basics (ASTD, 2013); Measuring the Success of Coaching (ASTD, 2012); 10 Steps to Successful Business Alignment(ASTD, 2012); The Bottomline on ROI 2nd Edition (HRDQ, 2012); Measuring Leadership Development: Quantify your Program’s Impact and ROI on Organizational Performance (McGraw-Hill, 2012); Measuring ROI in Learning and Development: Case Studies from Global Organizations (ASTD , 2011);The Green Scorecard: Measuring the ROI  in Sustainability Initiatives (Nicholas Brealey, 2011); Return on Investment in Meetings and Events: Tools and Techniques to Measure the Success of All Types of Meetings and Events (Elsevier, 2008); Show Me the Money: How to Determine ROI in People, Projects, and Programs (Berrett-Koehler, 2007); The Value of Learning (Pfeiffer, 2007); Return on Investment Basics (ASTD, 2005); Proving the Value of HR: How and Why to Measure ROI (SHRM, 2005); Make Training Evaluation Work (ASTD, 2004); The Bottom Line on ROI(Center for Effective Performance, 2002), which won the 2003 ISPI Award of Excellence; ROI at Work (ASTD, 2005); the ASTD In Action casebooks Measuring ROI in the Public Sector (2002), Retaining Your Best Employees (2002), and Measuring Return on Investment Vol. III (2001); the ASTD Infoline series, including Planning and Using Evaluation Data (2003), Managing Evaluation Shortcuts (2001), and Mastering ROI (1998); and The Human Resources Scorecard: Measuring Return on Investment (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001). Patti Phillips can be reached at

Want to Have a Greater Impact?

Want to Have a Greater Impact?

By Dave Vance

Learning and development (L&D) has the potential to significantly contribute to your organization’s results. What steps are you taking to maximize your impact? Here are four for your consideration.

First, know your organization’s goals and be sure you are doing everything possible to support the CEO’s highest-priority goals. This sounds so simple and yet many L&D functions do not do this. To be clear, we are not talking about HR goals, we are talking about your organization’s “real” goals like increasing revenue, reducing operating cost, or improving productivity. Now, if your CEO’s top five goals include improving leadership, increasing retention or boosting employee engagement, then by all means focus on these as well. If you are not currently supporting these “real” goals, what programs could you design that would help achieve them? If you are supporting them, are there any new programs which might do an even better job? As a self-check, what percentage of your total L&D spend is for learning directly aligned to your organization’s top five goals? Most CEOs would want you to do everything you can to help achieve their top goals.

Second, speak the language of business. Senior leaders should not have to learn our language. We need to learn theirs. After all, we exist to support them; they do not exist to support us. So, no talking about competencies and competency models unless they bring it up. No talking about level 1 or level 2. Do not use the words “pedagogy” or “learning modalities”. The language of senior leaders is generally money, results, impact, priorities and trade-offs. (See the 2010 research by Jack Phillips on what CEOs want from L&D where the two highest rated requests are impact and ROI.) They are busy people and they want you to get to the point. How can learning help them achieve their goals? What impact will it have? How much will it cost? They don’t need a lot of technical detail. Start with big picture and talk in business terms. They will ask for more detail if they need it.

Third, given the focus of senior leaders described above, get agreement upfront on the planned impact of your strategic learning initiatives. If you and senior leaders believe learning could help achieve a goal to increase sales by 10%, how much of a difference might learning make? Here we are talking about a plan for the isolated impact of your learning initiatives on sales. This will be a just a plan and there is no guarantee it will be realized, just like there is no guarantee that sales will go up 10% next year because that is the plan. While planning of this sort may be new to you, it is not new to your senior leaders who have to make plans all the time in a world full of uncertainties. So, for example, could your learning initiative, properly designed, delivered, and reinforced, be expected to deliver a 2% increase in sales? What would it take from you and from the head of sales for learning to have this impact? You want to be on the same page as senior leaders upfront on planned impact and on roles and responsibilities, and then you need to hold yourselves mutually accountable for delivering results.

Fourth, now that you are speaking the language of business and have a plan to contribute to the organization’s top goals, you need to execute it with discipline. This means you need to generate monthly reports showing progress towards plan or goal. The report should show the plan, year-to-date (YTD) results, and a forecast for how the year is likely to end if no special actions are taken. This report will be used by the program manager and department head to manage the learning initiatives to come as close as possible to achieving the agreed-upon impact. Each month the report should be used to ask whether you are on plan, and if not, why not and what can be done to get back on plan. Or, you may be on plan but the forecast shows you falling below plan by year end. If so, then you need to discuss why and what steps can be taken to stay on plan. Bottom line, you want to know where you stand each month, and you want to know as soon as possible if it appears plan may not be achieved so you can take some action to get back on plan.

These four steps will help you have the greatest impact possible on the goals that are most important to your CEO. Following them will also make you a much better business partner and increase the likelihood of additional resources.

Steps in Creating a Measurement Strategy

Steps in Creating a Measurement Strategy

By Dave Vance


Many learning professionals have been tasked with creating a measurement strategy. If you are among the chosen, here is some advice.

First, meet with your department head. They are the key to a successful and impactful measurement strategy. After all, the measurement strategy should support their management needs so it really is all about them. Unfortunately, many department heads do not understand that measurement is a means to the end and the end is their good management of the department. Here are some questions to get the discussion going:

  • Why do you want a measurement strategy?
  • How will you use the measures? How frequently do you want to see them?
  • Who else will use these measures?
  • What do you think of our current strategy or the measure we currently collect?
  • What measures do we currently collect?
  • What do our current reports look like? Who receives them? Who actually uses them? What do they do with them?
  • What strategic company goals are we supporting this year or next?
  • What are your key initiatives for the department? What goals do you have to improve effectiveness or efficiency? Do you have any measures in mind for these?

Answers to these questions should provide good insight on the current state of measurement.

Second, create three lists of measures: one for effectiveness measures, one for efficiency measures, and one for outcome measures (if you have any – most do not).  Your measurement strategy should include measures in each list so it is important to have a balance. Add any additional measures gleaned from your discussion with the department head. You may also want to meet with other senior leaders in the department to get their input.

Third, reflect on the department’s initiatives in support of the strategic goals. You will need an outcome measure for each company goal you are supporting. You will also want some accompanying efficiency measures (like number of participants, completion date and cost) and effectiveness measures (participant and sponsor satisfaction, amount learned and application rate). You will want to talk with the program directors to learn more about the initiatives and agree on the appropriate measures. Ultimately, the program directors will need to work closely with the goal owners or sponsors (like the VP of sales) to agree on the final list of measures and a plan or target for each.

Fourth, reflect on the department head’s plans for department-level initiatives. These may include leadership programs or programs to increase employee engagement or improve retention which are important but are not strategic company goals. These also include initiatives aimed solely at improving efficiency (for example, improving cycle time or increasing the ratio of web-based to instructor-led learning) or improving effectiveness (e.g., increasing the application rate of learning for the top ten programs or increasing the enterprise participant satisfaction rating). You will need efficiency and effectiveness measures for all of these and you will need outcome measures for your major initiatives like improving leadership. Add any additional measures from your discussions with other department leaders.

Fifth, meet with the department head and senior L&D leaders to share your preliminary thinking about the measures and how they flow from the key initiatives. Undoubtedly, the department leaders will have some additional thoughts and suggest more measures, but hopefully they appreciate the measurement framework and the alignment of measures to their important initiatives. Again, the measurement strategy should be all about helping the department head and senior L&D leaders better manage their initiatives. It should provide the measures that they need and want to see every single month to know how they are doing.

Last, the department head and senior L&D leaders need to decide which measures they want to actively manage versus passively monitor. Any leader can only actively manage 10-20 measures with their direct reports – so what are your vital few measures? Although you have been tasked with creating a measurement strategy, it is your leaders’ responsibility to decide which of the many measures will be managed. And they need to establish a plan or target for measure to be managed and then review progress against plan every month, so work is required here. Once they decide which to manage, you can them create reports like those in Talent Development Reporting Principles (TDRp) to show the measures, plan and year-to-date results.

I hope this provides some helpful structure to the measurement strategy process. It is very much an iterative process and generally requires multiple meetings until everyone agrees on the final list of measures and particularly the final list of measures to be managed. However, it will be time well spent, and your role in pulling the measurement strategy will give you great insight into the department and your leaders.


Revised Introduction to TDRp White Paper Now Available

Revised Introduction to TDRp White Paper Now Available

The Introduction to TDRp white paper (24 pages) has been thoroughly updated and revised to include all the latest recommendations and reports, including a discussion of creating lists of measures and distinguishing between measures to manage and measures to monitor. The paper also contains the latest report formats. This is the best introduction to TDRp and the recommended starting point for anyone who wants to learn about TDRp. The Executive Brief (5 pages) has also been revised. Find both on the home page, at Resources > Whitepapers, and at the Members Resource Center under Whitepapers.  A 2-page introduction for VPs of Training and a 1-page introduction for CEOs can also be found on the website at Resources > Communicating TDRp to Others.

Get To Know Your Board Member (Jean Martin)

Jean Martin

Jean Martin - Headshot 2014 (2)

(Executive Director, Talent Solutions Architect, CEB)


As executive director of CEB and CEB’s Talent Solutions Architect, Jean leads CEB’s insight and product development in talent management. Her areas of expertise span the HR spectrum and range from the future of the HR function to leadership to labor market trends. Specifically, Jean spends time working on issues relating to CEO and leadership succession, employee engagement, how companies can attract and keep the best employees, and how companies can seek out top talent globally and build out their global leadership bench.

Jean is often asked to share her knowledge in larger forums and has spoken at venues such as the Gathering of Leaders, the Economist Talent Summit, the Singapore Human Capital Summit, Wharton Women in Business Conference and the European Union. Jean also regularly presents to executive teams including Bombardier, Intel, Cisco, BBVA and Eskrom among others. In addition, her work has appeared in publications such as the Associated Press, Harvard Business Review, the Economist, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, and Human Resources Executive Magazine.

Prior to CEB, Jean served as a special assistant to President Clinton’s Domestic Policy Council. Additionally, Jean was a Presidential Management Fellow serving as a Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President for small business/community development banking at Bank of America. Also during her time as a PMF she was project manager for public-private partnerships in disadvantaged communities at the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development and for microfinance and microenterprise development at the U.S. Agency for International Development in Tanzania. Prior to that she worked a management consultant with the Institute for Human Services Management.

Jean received a Masters of Public Policy with a concentration in Economics and Finance at Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts with highest distinction from the University of Virginia.  She also has served on several non-profit and public boards, such as City Year, Turnaround for Children and the San Francisco Presidio Planning Commission.  She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and three children.

The Right Conversation By Dave Vance

The Right Conversation

By Dave Vance

In Chief Learning Officer’s June issue on the 2015 Learning Elite winners, Kimo Kippen, CLO for Hilton Worldwide and winner of Third Place in the Elite, talks about the importance of having the right conversation with senior leaders. He says the discussion is about “driving better business results and not simply justifying L&D’s existence.” He goes on to comment, “I never, ever got questions as to why learning was important…. I was never asked, ‘Why are we doing this?’”

Why is the right conversation so important, what is it about, and who is it with? First, the right conversation needs to be with the right person, and the right person is the senior business leader responsible for delivering a company goal like higher sales or improved guest satisfaction. Typically these leaders will be SVPs and direct reports to the CEO. In other words, they will be the top leaders in your organization. Now, the discussion about learning and its impact on business results may have started much lower in the senior leader’s organization but ultimately the right conversation will be with the SVP.

Second, the discussion must ultimately be about learning’s ability to help drive business results which is why it needs to be with the owner of the business goal (for example, increase sales by 10%). Both the senior business leader (like the SVP of Sales) and the L&D leader (like the CLO) must agree that learning has a role to play and they must agree on the specifics of the planned initiative like target audience, learning modality, location, duration, objectives, and cost. More than this, though, they must also agree on the planned impact and other measures of success so they both can agree on what is expected from this investment in learning. And last, they must agree on their mutual roles and responsibilities. What must each do to deliver the planned impact? Neither one can do it alone. The senior business leader must rely on the learning professional’s expertise to ensure that learning can contribute to achievement of the goal and, if it can, to design and deliver the right learning. On the other hand, since the employees report into the senior leader’s organization, only the senior business leader can provide the appropriate reinforcement and leadership to ensure her employees actually apply the new knowledge or behaviors which will result in the intended impact. (You can see why this discussion must be with the senior business leader….a lower –level leader in her organization simply does not have the power to compel the needed behavior by employees and leaders in the organization.)

Hopefully, by now you have a sense of why this conversation is so important and transformative. The conversation is about learning’s role in helping the senior business leaders accomplish their goals. Done properly, both parties (business and L&D) will walk away in agreement on the need for learning, the particulars, the planned impact and other measures of success, and what each must do if, together, they are going to deliver the planned business results. As Kimo said, after this conversation, there is no question about learning’s role or importance. You are now a business partner with an important role to play in achieving your company’s goals. Notice, too, the purpose of this discussion was not to ask for resources or justify L&D’s existence. It is a business discussion. If learning has a role to play and both parties agree upfront on the particulars and planned impact, the discussion about cost is straightforward. It will cost $X to achieve the planned impact. If that seems like a good investment, proceed. If not, don’t. No begging. If the available budget is less, you can scale back the program AND the planned impact.

Bottom line, these types of discussions are required if you are to become a valued business partner. More, they are just very interesting and fun. You will learn a lot from your senior leaders and gain a lot of insight. If you are already having these “right conversations” keep up the good work and share your experiences with others. If you are not having these today, resolve to move in this direction going forward. You will be amazed at the difference they make.

TDRp Featured in July Talent Management Magazine

Talent Management magazine just published  a cover story on Western Union ‘s adoption of TDRp

The cover story for the July issue of Talent Management magazine is Delivering Value which describes how Western Union has used TDRp to align learning to business goals, have better discussions with goal owners, choose appropriate measures, and generate monthly reports. The article includes the reasons Josh Craver, VP of Talent Management, selected TDRp to help transform learning at Western Union into a more business-focused and results-oriented effort. The article also includes feedback and success stories from one of their important business partners. Read the article at


Don’t Sell Training to Senior Leaders

Don’t Sell Training to Senior Leaders

By Dave Vance

In the last blog I talked about marketing your training to participants. I concluded that while it may be appropriate for general learning it would not be appropriate for learning strategically aligned to your organization’s goals since the goal owner is responsible for identifying the specific target audience and ensuring that they take it. So, while you may help the owner communicate the benefits and expectations of the training, there is no need for L&D to market it in the traditional sense of marketing. (The owner, however, may very well want to market it to their organization, especially if it is voluntary.)

Today I want to talk about a related topic and that is selling your training to senior leaders. Here the general rule is much simpler: Don’t do it! Now I know that you may be tempted to sell the training because you firmly believe it will be of value. You have completed your needs analysis, and you know that training, specifically the training you are recommending, would close an important gap in employees’ knowledge, skill or behavior resulting in greater organizational capability and better results. Since you are convinced of this it is only natural that you want to convince the leader as well so their employees and your company can benefit from the training.

Here is the problem. At the end of the day, you can design and deliver the very best learning which meets all of your carefully researched and planned objectives. The participants may love it and give you high satisfaction ratings. They may demonstrate that they learned the material through a test. But if they do not apply it, it is scrap learning, a waste of time and company resources. So, who is in a position to ensure that the participants actually apply your great learning? Sadly, it is not you. Only the senior leader is in a position to compel their employees to apply the learning. You can (and should) provide advice to the leader about steps they can take to ensure the highest level of application. You can advise them how to kick off the training, how to let their supervisors and employees know what their expectations are for this training, and how to devise a reinforcement strategy of positive and negative consequences. (The Kirkpatrick’s’ rightly focus on the importance of this step.)

If the senior leader does not have the time or inclination to undertake these steps to ensure application, chances are the application rate will be very low, resulting in low impact and almost certainly a negative ROI. This is why hard selling training to senior leaders simply will not work. They have to believe in it. They have to want it. They have to be committed to it enough to dedicate the time to make it successful. You can share your proposal for training with them and outline the expected benefits, but no hard sells. If they are not convinced you might try explaining the benefits one more time, but if they still do not seem convinced, walk away. These should be business discussions about how you can help them achieve their goals through training. And you need to be clear about what will be required from them in terms of their time and commitment. If they don’t see the benefits, or if they do but don’t have the time or energy to do their part to achieve them, then let it go and don’t take it personally. Respect their judgment.

The danger here is that you go into hard sell mode and you succeed. They give in and you proceed to deliver the training. But since they never really believed in the benefits, or they do not have the time to do their part, the training is not properly positioned or reinforced it, and consequently the application rate is low. It is a waste of time and resources. You succeeded in selling it but the training failed to have impact. And all of this was predictable. Thus, my advice: No hard sells. It simply won’t work because the leaders have to be fully committed and it shouldn’t take a hard sell to get that commitment. They will realize the training is in their best interest or they won’t, and this can be accomplished through a business-like discussion of benefits and costs. Don’t try to force them to do training when they don’t really believe in it or are not fully committed to it. In other words, be more of a consultant and business partner and realize that this means they will not always take your advice. And that is okay.

Get To Know Your Board Member (Kevin Oakes)

Kevin Oakes

Kevin Oakes


Kevin is the CEO and founder of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), the world’s largest vendor-free network of corporations focused on improving workforce productivity.

Prior to founding i4cp, Kevin was the founder of SumTotal Systems, the world’s largest learning management system company, when he merged Click2learn with Docent.  Prior to the formation of SumTotal, Kevin was the Chairman & CEO of Click2learn, and was also the founder of Oakes Interactive, an award-winning, technology-based training company.

Kevin’s most recent book, The Executive Guide to Integrated Talent Management, was published by ASTD in 2011.  Kevin was recently on the board of directors of KnowledgeAdvisors, a human capital metrics software provider which was sold to the Corporate Executive Board, and he was the Chairman of Jambok, a social learning platform which was purchased by SuccessFactors.  Kevin is currently on the board of Workforce Insight, a workforce optimization company, and on the board of advisors of Intrepid, a corporate training firm.  He was also the 2006 Chair of the national American Society of Training & Development (ASTD) board of directors, and is a frequent keynoter and author in the human capital field.


Should We Be “Marketing” Training to our Employees?

Should We Be “Marketing” Training to our Employees?

By Dave Vance

Recently the issue of marketing training to employees came up. Some suggested that learning leaders need to market training like any other organization markets its products and services, and they offered a number of excellent suggestions to create awareness and demand for the courses. While I don’t have any objections to these suggestions, I don’t think it is a good model for learning and development (L&D) in general. Here is why.

The assumption behind this model is that L&D exists to offer a variety of courses just as a company exists to sell its products. Furthermore, success will be defined by how many sales (participants) we get. Thus, to be successful L&D has to market just like a company to get employees (our customers) to take our training (product). However, I don’t believe this is why L&D exists. I believe L&D exists, first and foremost, to help our organizations achieve their goals. Consequently, L&D should align and prioritize its efforts around the organization’s highest priority goals. This means finding out what the CEO’s top goals are and then working with senior leaders to determine if learning has a role to play and, if it does, then working with goal owners to develop learning initiatives in direct support of those goals. The learning and its ultimate impact on the goals will be a result of close collaboration and partnership between L&D and the goal owner & stakeholders in the owner’s organization.

In this model, why would L&D be marketing or selling the learning? The goal owner, like the SVP of Sales, has agreed that some of her salespeople need the training. You have worked with her to identify the appropriate target audience. Presumably, everyone in the target audience will be required to take the training or to demonstrate the desired proficiency. The SVP of Sales, with your help, will need to convey the expected benefit of the training and the SVP will need to communicate the appropriate positive incentives (and/or negative consequences for not) for applying the desired behaviors, but this is not marketing. If the SVP of Sales decides the learning will simply be recommended, then the two of you will need to communicate its expected benefits, but this still should not represent an all-out selling effort for the course.

So, for learning aligned to high-priority organization goals, L&D leaders should not have to “sell” the training, although they may need to help the goal owner communicate the expectations and benefits. Compliance-related learning will be mandatory as will learning for basic skills required to do a job so no selling required. That leaves the rest of the learning offerings which are unaligned to important goals of the organization. This learning, like team building and effective communication, is important but much less important than the other learning which is aligned or mandatory. Consequently, it just doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of effort selling this learning to employees. I agree that good marketing will lead to more employees taking these courses, but that shouldn’t be the goal of L&D. The goal is to help your company achieve its goals by offering learning aligned to you company’s goals and by providing all the required compliance and basic skill training. Spend your time and resources here, not on marketing the unaligned learning.

CTR Newsletter June 2015

Center for Talent Reporting

Latest News and Events

June 2015

TDRp Workshop: October 21-22, Denver, CO

TDRp Workshop
October 21-22, Denver CO

Don’t miss the Fall, 2015 TDRp Workshop! This is the best event to learn about all elements of TDRp including assumptions, principles, types and definitions of measures, and creation and use of statements and reports. After attending this workshop, you will know how to manage human capital like a business, how to implement TDRp in your organization and how to manage the required change. Click the link below to learn more and to register
> Learn More & Register

Save the Date!
CTR Annual Conference

3rd Annual CTR Conference

The 3rd Annual CTR Conference is slated for Feb. 24-25, 2016 in Dallas, TX. Next year’s event will include valuable learning on measurement reporting and management; TDRp, and business acumen, and to improve your overall measurement report and management skills. There will also be plenty of time for networking.

Plan to make a week of it and join us two days before the Conference for the TDRp Basics Workshop, Feb 22-23; and then for more learning on Feb. 26.

If you’re interested in sponsorship for these events, please contact Dave Vance.

Watch your email for more information on this conference and registration details.

CTR Blog:
The Challenge of Transforming Our Profession

CTR Blog: Objections to TDRp

Readers of this blog know that I am passionate about running learning like a business. Simply put, this means starting with a business plan for learning which contains SMART goals and then executing that plan with discipline through monthly meetings using reports showing progress against plan. The plan would contain your planned contribution toward company goals and planned improvements in effectiveness and efficiency measures. For example, the L&D leadership team, working with the CEO and owners of company goals, may have decided that learning could contribute to four of the six highest-priority goals and by working closely with those owners agreed on a reasonable planned impact from L&D and the steps required to achieve it…

> Read More

Meet CTR Board Member:
Claudia Rodriguez

Get to know your CTR Board of Directors!We express a wealth of grattitude to those who have dedicated their time and expertise to our organizaiton. This month, we present to you CTR Board Member, Claudia Rodriguez

Claudia Rodriguez is Vice President of Devices Product Management at Motorola Solutions, Inc. She is responsible for optimizing product portfolio planning and investment decisions to deliver superior offerings to Motorola Solutions Inc.’s customers in each of its devices technologies and business lines across the world. Claudia joined Motorola in 2000 and has held a variety of leadership positions in product/business management, technical sales, business development, learning/training, operations and competitive intelligence, covering the U.S. and international markets.

Claudia also serves as the President of the Global Women’s Business Council at MSI, working to drive inclusion and diversity in the company while creating networking and engagement opportunities for employees.  She is also a board member of the Center of Talent Reporting, an industry-led initiative to bring standard principles and reporting to learning, and board member of BroadWand Wireless, a high tech start-up bringing affordable solutions to the mobile internet user.  She recently participated in the 2014-2015 Global Marathon as a Thought Leader and received Illinois Most Powerful & Influential Woman Award.

Member Resources Update:
All CTR Webinars Available to Public

Free Webinars

We have recently opened up our entire webinar series to both CTR members and non-members. The ability to download the recording and PPT remains a CTR member-only benefit with the exception of the Introduction to TDRp Website Overview and TDRp for Senior Leaders webinars.

TRDp Webinar Series

Business Acumen Webinar Series

Phone: 970.460.0837
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Get to Know Your Board Member (Claudia Rodriguez)


Claudia Rodriguez

Vice President, Devices Product Management

Motorola Solutions


Claudia Rodriguez

Claudia is Vice President of Devices Product Management at Motorola Solutions Inc. She is responsible for optimizing product portfolio planning and investment decisions to deliver superior offerings to Motorola Solutions Inc.’s customers in each of its Devices technologies and business lines across the world.  Claudia joined Motorola in 2000 and has held a variety of leadership positions in product/business management, technical sales, business development, learning/training, operations and competitive intelligence, covering U.S. and international markets. She holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Florida International University.

Claudia also serves as the President of the Global Women’s Business Council at MSI, working to drive inclusion and diversity in the company while creating networking and engagement opportunities for employees.  She is also a board member of the Center of Talent Reporting, an industry-led initiative to bring standard principles and reporting to learning, and board member of BroadWand Wireless, a high tech start-up bringing affordable solutions to the mobile internet user.  She recently participated in the 2014-2015 Global Marathon as a Thought Leader and received Illinois Most Powerful & Influential Woman Award.

The Challenge of Transforming Our Profession, By Dave Vance

The Challenge of Transforming Our Profession

By Dave Vance Executive Director Center for Talent Reporting


Readers of this blog know that I am passionate about running learning like a business. Simply put, this means starting with a business plan for learning which contains SMART goals and then executing that plan with discipline through monthly meetings using reports showing progress against plan. The plan would contain your planned contribution toward company goals and planned improvements in effectiveness and efficiency measures. For example, the L&D leadership team, working with the CEO and owners of company goals, may have decided that learning could contribute to four of the six highest-priority goals and by working closely with those owners agreed on a reasonable planned impact from L&D and the steps required to achieve it. Furthermore, the L&D leadership team would have agreed on opportunities for improvement within the department and set plans for improvement which might include improving utilizations rates, reducing development time, or improving participant satisfactions scores, etc.

To many of us this approach (start with a plan and then execute it) simply seems like common sense. It is what most of our colleagues in other departments are already expected to do. We knew most practitioners had not been exposed to this approach at university or on the job, so it would be new and there would be the usual resistance to anything new. What has surprised us is, though, is the amount of resistance, or perhaps just plain lack of interest, from many department heads and HR leaders. Generally speaking, staff, especially in measurement and evaluation, have been very receptive. They see the value immediately but they often struggle to get their leaders on board. When we talk with these leaders we hear several common themes. First, “No one is asking me to do this so why should I?” Second, “I have succeeded so far in my career without using an approach like this so why should I change now?” Last, “Why would I commit to targets or plans when I may not be able to achieve them?”

These comments highlight the challenge we face transforming our profession. We are suggesting a higher level of transparency and accountability which scares many. This approach requires real, active management of the function, which some don’t believe is necessary for success. Furthermore, adopting this approach now in their career raises the question of why they weren’t always managing this way. Many leaders see only a downside from adopting this approach since it will require more work and will expose them to greater scrutiny. And it is certainly true that some plans will not be realized despite hard work and good intentions, so they may have to explain why plan was not achieved. The upside, however, is that they will become better managers and L&D will have a greater impact on the organization. They will have a greater impact by doing a better job of strategically aligning their initiatives to company goals, agreeing upfront on measures of success, establishing plans with specific, measurable goals to improve effectiveness and efficiency, and then executing the plan with discipline. They will become the highly valued, strategic business partners they aspire to be.

Bottom line, while there is more resistance from senior leaders than we had expected, we are more convinced than ever that the profession needs this type of business discipline. The transformation may take longer than expected, but it will come. And if it does not come from those currently in L&D leadership roles, it will come from the next generation of leaders who are already adopting these principles. It will also come from leaders outside L&D or HR who are moved into L&D precisely to bring much needed business discipline. In either case, it will come.

Objections to TDRp

Objections to TDRp

By Dave Vance

Human Capital Media just published a Special Report on Metrics and Measurement which featured TDRp. The report included comments from some early adopters as well as from a number who were not convinced that TDRp or standards were necessary. In the last blog I shared the basics of TDRp for those who were not familiar with it. In this blog I want to address some of the objections and questions. Let’s see what you think.

Objection 1: Senior leaders don’t need to see hundreds of measures. We absolutely agree! TDRp recommends focusing on the vital few which will of course be different for each organization. Department heads might focus on just 10-15 key measures and you might share just 5-10 key measures with senior leaders like the CEO, CFO and a governing body. In each case the senior leaders and department head would agree on the list of select measures.

Objection 2: All organizations are different so standard measures won’t work. True, all organizations are different and therefore they will use different sets of measures. But wouldn’t it be nice if we had a common language for those measures, common reports to put them in and, someday, standard names and definitions? The analogy with accounting is instructive here. Every organizations has some version of an income statement and balance sheet but the financial measures will not be the same for every organization. However, the names and definitions will be.

Objection 3: We don’t need to worry about alignment or outcome measures so that part of TDRp is not relevant for us. We agree if your focus is entirely on basic skill building and compliance. If all of your programs are to convey the skills needed by employees to achieve a minimum level of competence or meet compliance objectives, then just concentrate on meeting these objectives as efficiently and effectively as possible. On the other hand, if you are also charged with helping the organization accomplish its goals (like increase sales or improve quality or reduce costs), then you need to align your initiatives to these goals, agree on outcome measures with the owner of the goal, and agree on roles and responsibilities for each of you to deliver the agreed-upon outcome.

Objection 4: We don’t need TDRp guidance or reports to help us manage. We know there are many outstanding L&D leaders who have developed excellent processes and reports for managing their key initiatives and their department. For these, TDRp may not offer any improvement. But we believe the majority of L&D leaders could use some guidance. For example, we know that most are not having rich, proactive discussions with the owners of company goals to identify outcome measures. Most are not distinguishing between the few measures to actively manage and the many they may just wish to monitor. And very few are setting plan or target for the key measures and actively managing them on a monthly basis. So, unfortunately, most would benefit from some guidance.

Objection 5: We don’t need to prove our value. It is true that TDRp processes and reports will help establish you as a valued, strategic business partner and will help convey your alignment to important company goals and your impact on those goals. If you are already there, you should be proud of what you have accomplished. TDRp, though, might still provide valuable guidance on selecting measures, setting plans, and managing throughout the year. At Caterpillar, I was never asked to demonstrate our alignment or prove our value, but our CEO and senior leaders always appreciated seeing how we were aligned to their goals and what type of contribution we could make.

Bottom line, we believe most practitioners could benefit significantly from TDRp. And if you have some better ways to measure, report, or manage human capital, please share them with us. We are on a journey to improve the profession and your ideas are always welcome

The Discussion over TDRp and Standards: What Does TDRp Really Offer?

The Discussion over TDRp and Standards: What Does TDRp Really Offer?

By Dave Vance Executive Director CTR

Human Capital Media just published a Special Report on Metrics and Measurement which featured TDRp. The report included comments from some early adopters as well as from a number who were not convinced that TDRp or standards were necessary. I believe some in the latter category were not actually familiar with TDRp so in this blog I will share the basics and then in my next blog I will address some of the objections. Let’s see what you think.

At its core, TDRp recommends a standard language for our field and a framework for measuring, reporting and managing human capital. A partial analogy is provided by accounting which groups measures into four broad categories (revenue, expense, assets and liabilities), names and defines the measures, and creates three standard statements which contain the measures (income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement). TDRp, however, goes beyond just the reporting to recommend a standard process for how human capital should be managed and in this respect is more analogous to business. We believe our profession would benefit from a common language and framework and from standard processes, just as the accounting and business disciplines have. Benefits include guidance for the measuring, reporting, and management of L&D, reduced time spent debating names and definitions, enhanced clarity in communication, and improved benchmarking. In part, this is what defines a “profession” – that everyone in that profession shares a common language and approach, and it is what enables universities to teach it.

So, what does TDRp suggest for our profession (L&D in particular but all human capital more broadly)? First, we should adopt a common language including three broad categories of measures: outcome, effectiveness, and efficiency. Second, we should move towards using standard names and definitions for our measures. ATD has been using standard names and definitions for years so let’s start with existing best practices. Third, we should align our most important, discretionary initiatives to our company’s goals. (No need to align basic skills training or compliance related training – just do these as effectively and efficiently as possible.) Fourth, we should decide what is most important for the department to accomplish in the coming year. This will likely be a combination of initiatives to provide basic skills and help the company achieve its goals, and initiatives by the department head to improve effectiveness and efficiency. Fifth, select measures tied to these goals and set a plan or target for the few key measures we will manage to ensure our success. Last, use three types of reports (Operations, Program, and Summary) to manage our progress throughout the year. Each report should show the plan or target for the measure to be managed as well as the year-to-date progress and the forecast for the year.

That’s it. Adopt common language, standard processes, and standard reports. Most other professions have already done this. TDRp provides the guidance for us to do so as well, for us to become more “professional” and have even greater impact on our organizations.

Get To Know Your Board Member (Carrie Beckstrom)

This month we had the opportunity to talk to Carrie Beckstrom our board treasure.

Carrie Beckstrom is Vice President of Learning and Performance for the global and national account businesses of Automatic Data Processing, Inc (ADP). Carrie has worked in the field of learning and development for over 25 years in a variety of industries, including business outsourcing, healthcare, technology and financial services, and has consistently demonstrated the ability to achieve measurable results. She has proven skills in the area of building initiatives and departments from scratch, in addition to leading large-scale transitions of existing departments, and the accompanying process and people change-management efforts. Her focus on revenue and metrics results in a clear view of the added value of her initiatives and facilitates the communication of that value to others.

Carrie was kind enough to answer some questions.

  1. Why is TDRp important for the profession?  “It’s not just important; I think it’s essential. TDRp is instrumental in advancing our profession’s human capital analytics capabilities. It provides a framework for measuring and managing the efficiency, effectiveness, and outcomes of learning and other talent investments. Insights gained from the analysis enhance our ability to provide actionable information to the business. The reports, which are modeled after financial statements, enable us to effectively communicate our progress and impact to executives on a regular basis. And the monthly forecasting and reporting drives accountability and continuous improvement”.


  1. How can CTR help improve the profession’s business acumen? The entire TDRp framework facilitates running learning and other talent disciplines like a business. And CTR has the resources and expertise necessary to successfully implement TDRp within an organization to drive an outcome-focused approach. Examples include achieving strategic alignment to ensure learning and other talent initiatives are in direct support of the broader business goals. And establishing measurable targets and a process for monitoring progress to ensure success. CTR also offers the option to pursue TDRp certification or accreditation which provides a very hands-on approach to advancing your business acumen and human capital analytics capabilities”.
  2. Anything else you would like to share? “Do not let a lack of resources impede your ability to get started with TDRp. Leverage what resources you have and show incremental progress, no matter how small, and in no time you will reap the benefits of adopting a more comprehensive, sophisticated approach to managing and measuring the value of your organization”.

Carrie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara and currently serves on the Center for Talent Reporting Board. Carrie resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and 12-year old son.

Measurement Strategy or Management Strategy: Which One Do You Need? by Dave Vance

Measurement Strategy or Management Strategy: Which One Do You Need?

By Dave Vance

Most learning departments either already have a measurement strategy or want to create one. On the other hand, very few have a management strategy or even know what one would look like. I believe every learning department should have both and that the measurement strategy is a component of the larger management strategy.

Let’s start by defining each. In its most basic form, a measurement strategy will define what measures should be collected for each course. For example, number of unique participants for each course, data on five level 1 measures (participant satisfaction with the instructor, content, and environment; relevance to job; and willingness to recommend to others) will be collected for each course, data on pass rates (level 2) will be collected on all compliance –related learning, and the intent to apply skills learned in the course (level 3) will be measured for all courses. The strategy would specify whether the data will be collected from all participants or a sample, whether it will be collected electronically or manually, and how it will be measured (for example, a five point Likert scale). A more comprehensive measurement strategy would also define roles and responsibilities, how the measures would be reported (the report formats), and the frequency of the reports.

A management strategy defines how the department will be managed. Measurement is an important part of the management strategy and a natural starting point because you have to have data in order to manage. But management is about more than just the measures. A management strategy will define how the measures are to be used and will clearly spell out roles and responsibilities for the department head, managers, and measurement staff. While a measurement strategy is about gathering actual results, the management strategy will differentiate between measures to be actively managed and those which will simply be monitored. Measures to be managed on a monthly basis will need a plan or target so the management plan will include how the plans are set for each key measure, including a calendar showing key dates leading up to approval of the plans. A management strategy will also include how the measures will be managed each month, including the time and duration of the management meeting dedicated to managing the department as well as the type of reports which will be required to facilitate the discussion. A good management strategy will also articulate the type of relationship sought by the department with senior leaders and owners of company goals supported by training programs and how often L&D will meet with these senior leaders. It may also include how the department will work with a governing board.

Bottom line, a management strategy provides the broader context and answers questions about who will use the measures, when they are needed, and how they will be reported and used. Without a management strategy, departments run the risk of spending a lot of time and energy measuring with no clear purpose in mind. While a measurement strategy alone will allow an L&D organization to check the box on measurement, it won’t necessarily enable L&D leaders to manage any better. We need both a measurement and a management strategy for maximum impact. TDRp is designed to help you craft both.

Get to Know your Board Members (Jeff Higgins)

Jeff Higgins is the CEO of the Human Capital Management Institute, a driving force in Workforce analytics helping companies transform data into intelligence via workforce planning and predictive analytics. With his unique experience as both a senior HR executive and former CFO, Jeff helps organizations rapidly advance their analytics & workforce planning journey to unlock billions of dollars in workforce ROI.

Mr. Higgins is a founding member of the Workforce Intelligence Consortium, a member of the ISO Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on human capital, board member of the Center for Talent Reporting (CTR) and editorial committee member for IHRIM’s Workforce Solutions Review (WSR) magazine.

Previously, Mr. Higgins was EVP of client services at Inform a global workforce planning and analytics software and consulting provider, EVP of Workforce Planning at Countrywide Financial Corp., and held senior HR leadership roles driving workforce analytics and planning at The Irvine Company and IndyMac Bancorp Inc.

Mr. Higgins also spent 15 years in finance and accounting roles of increasing responsibility for companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Baxter International, Colgate Palmolive and Klune Industries, ultimately as a Controller, VP of Finance and CFO.

In November 2011, Mr. Higgins and HCMI were featured on a cover story in magazine on Human Capital Financial Statements Power from the People

Taking Action on the CTR Satisfaction Survey Part 2

By Peggy Parskey

CTR Satisfaction Survey: Results are In! Second Installment

Thanks again to all who responded to our recent CTR Satisfaction Survey. As promised, we will provide you with periodic reports on specific feedback.  In my second installment, I’ll share results of two survey question and will suggest a call to action for everyone, both active members and those on our mailing list who are not yet members.

Survey question: How did you hear about the Center for Talent Reporting?

Results: By a wide margin, most respondents (nearly 40%) heard about CTR either from a colleague within their own organization or at another organization. Fifteen percent heard a presentation about TDRp at a conference and 9% were referred by a sponsoring organization.

Call to action: CTR is a relatively new organization and as with most new things, building awareness and interest needs to start with word of mouth. And as you can tell from the results, that’s just what’s happening.  Because you are an early adopter of TDRp, please help us spread the word.  Suggest to your colleagues that they subscribe to our mailing list.  Join our LinkedIn Group (Center for Talent Reporting or TDRp) or follow us on Twitter (@C4TR).  Critical mass matters, so help us get there.

Survey question: What areas deliver the most value to you as a CTR member or mailing list subscriber?

Results:  Five areas popped to the top of the list with over 75% of respondents indicating that these areas were of most value:

TDRp conferences (either 2013 or 2014):  Individuals who attended either one or both conference noted the value in having direct access to industry experts and learning about emerging developments in our field

TDRp measures library:  This resource continues to be viewed as a key value of CTR. If you are a current member, in 2015, you will have access to an expanded version of the measures library. In the next few months, we will expand the library to include references to HR measures recommended by the Corporate Executive Board.  We believe you will find these additions extremely beneficial.

TDRp basics workshop:  At the conclusion of our Basics Workshop, attendees consistently tell us that they gain a new perspective about the opportunities for HR/Talent and a renewed sense of purpose about how they can influence the direction of their function.  These survey results are consistent with that feedback and suggest to us that the workshop is a kick start for change.

TDRp webinars:  As you likely know by now, we’ve expanded our breadth and depth of webinar offerings specifically for our Members. This feedback validates our plan to offer webinars on a variety of topics with a variety of speakers and perspectives.

TDRp tools and templates: Last but not least, respondents valued the job aids and tools that we have provided to both members and non-members.  Based on this feedback, we will continue to add and enhance our tools to enable you to build awareness, gain support and successfully implement TDRp.

Call to action: Respondents who actively engage with the Center get the most value. If you haven’t taken advantage of all these resources and capabilities, make a point to do so in the next month.  Attend a webinar, download the measures library, review our tools and templates or sign up for our TDRp workshop.  And if you want us to add to our offerings, don’t hesitate to contact Dave or myself.

Diving Business Results by Managing Smart-Mobs

by Dirk Tussing

“Driving business results by managing smart-mobs” is one of the key skills that talent leaders will need in the next 10 years. A movement is afoot to better manage the “crowd” for sourcing opinions, ideas, and even work products. What is the “crowd” movement and how will we as talent professionals prepare and leverage their power to improve our businesses?   Answer…In 2015, CTR will be partnering with the Executive Learning Exchange to conduct a year-long experiment for learning and talent development leaders to experience crowdsourcing solutions for talent development issues.

Many of you know Karen Kocher, the CLO @ Cigna University, either from collaborations with CTR or when she was featured on the cover of Chief Learning Officer magazine last year on the January 2014 cover.  Karen frequently provides all of us with insight on current trends and opportunities for our learning and talent development community to be better prepared to make our case to executive stakeholders. A few years ago when Karen Kocher was presenting, The Future of Training & Development: Identifying Behaviors, Competencies & Skills to Sustain High Performance, at the Chicagoland Learning Leaders Conference, she spoke of changes we can expect in our job roles for the future world of work—new skills corporate leaders will need ten years.  A common theme for new leadership competency, leaders will be “managing work swarms” and “organizing smart mobs” as new leadership skills needed in an uncertain world.  You can watch Karen’s presentation on a YouTube video vignette ( where she posed what we, as influencers of L&D were to enable our organization an opportunity to engage a “crowd” to create solutions for our business issues.

When Dave Vance was invited by the Executive Learning Exchange to volunteer to co-lead a “crowd” share learning analytics solutions for Simple & cost effective ways to measure big results, he accepted. This is one of 5-8 human capital business solutions, click here to view a one-page overview where we will be sharing and learning with our peers.

Want to join Dave’s learning analytics crowd? Send an email request to (Primary Audience: Learning & Talent Development Leaders).

Should You Isolate the Impact of Training?

By Dave Vance

The Kirkpatricks recently addressed this question in their weekly newsletter and advised against it. While I agree with Jim and Wendy on many things, in this case I must disagree. They argue that it is important to align your learning to organizations goals so that your business partners will have a vested interest in the training. And, since you are well aligned to their goals and “working as a team toward the same desired outcomes, adopting a silo mentality and attempting to isolate any one function’s contribution becomes counterproductive.”

TDRp fully supports their emphasis on aligning training to company goals and developing a strong partnership with business leaders, especially the owners of the goals which will be supported by the training. In fact, it is built into the assumption and core principles. And I agree that it must be a team effort to deliver true impact. After all, you can develop incredible training but if it is not applied it will have no impact, and only the goal owner (like the SVP of Sales) can ensure that his or her employees apply the training. So, strong sponsorship and reinforcement by the owner are indeed critical. Furthermore, if I had to choose between strong partnership with goal owners and isolating the impact of training, if I could do only one or the other, I would choose strong partnership.

But why do we have to choose between the two? Why can’t we do both? In fact, I believe that an upfront discussion with the goal owner on the planned isolated impact of learning will lead to an even stronger partnership and better plans for reinforcement. Imagine a discussion with the SVP of Sales where you agree upfront that it would be reasonable from a planning perspective for training, by itself, to contribute 3% higher sales. Then you discuss what it will take from both of you, working in partnership, to deliver that 3% increase in sales. What will you have to do (like develop high quality training delivered by Marche 15) and what will the SVP of Sales have to do (like ensure the appropriate employees take the training and then apply the appropriate reinforcement to ensure they actually apply it)? Agreeing on isolated planned impact upfront sharpens the focus of the discussion and provides a SMART goal for both of you. I would contend that this is entirely consistent with the Kirkpatrick approach to start with the end in mind where the end is the planned impact of training on the goal. And since training is seldom the only (or even the most important) factor driving achievement of the goal, let’s get clarity upfront on how much of an impact can be expected from training if we both do our parts.

In conclusion, I reject the notion that an upfront discussion (or an after the fact review) of training’s isolated impact is inconsistent with building a strong partnership with senior leaders. I actually believe it can bring additional clarity and focus to the discussion and the relationship. I will, however, readily agree with Jim and Wendy that you should avoid a “silo” mentality where you plan and execute the training without establishing a partnership with the business. I will also agree that the training function, alone, can seldom deliver impact. It must be done in partnership, and then both of you can take credit for mutually delivering the planned (isolated) impact of training.

Being Relevant

By Jac Fitz-enz

All functions in a company have to add value.  One way to do this is through cost reduction.  That has long been HR’s approach.  We try to show that we don’t cost much money.  This is a weak approach.  What does it say about a product or service when the message is that it’s cheap?  By definition, it’s not about value.

Given that, who will management want to support, someone that doesn’t cost much or someone who can demonstrate value added?  Interestingly, it is not difficult to show simple examples of value added.

For example, it’s rather easy to study your company’s record in recruitment methods and match them to subsequent employee performance profiles thus finding ways to hire people who perform well and stay with the organization.  You can do this by tracking, on average, the turnover profile of employees hired within the past year.  If you have access to the data you can look at the performance records of that group as well.  On average, are recently hired people staying with the organization and scoring better or worse than longer tenured people?

There are many other examples of tracking value added that you can develop if you just take the time to brainstorm it within your department.  The principles and methodology offered by the Center for Talent Reporting offer a basis for both stimulating your thinking about value added as well as providing the tools to demonstrate value.

Linking HR services, processes and systems to employee performance, hence revenue generation or organizational cost reduction is the path to HR’s relevance.   It’s more than just running your service.  It’s making a financial contribution to your organization.  If HR doesn’t add financial value, it has a limited future.  If it does, the sky is the limit.

About the author: Jac Fit-enz is considered by many to be the father of human capital analytics. He has written extensively on the subject for over thirty years, including Human Capital Analytics and The ROI of Human Capital. Jac is a member of the CTR Board of Directors.

Taking Action on the CTR Satisfaction Survey  

By Peggy Parskey, CTR Assistant Director

We just completed the analysis of our annual CTR satisfaction survey. First, we want to thank everyone who took the time to reply. Your thoughtful comments and suggestions will be extremely helpful to our 2015 agenda and how we allocate resources. Second, thanks for your interest in the drawing for a free membership (or extended membership). We’ve notified the lucky winner.

Over the next few months, I’ll be posting summary feedback on the survey. This is the first installment of several that will highlight what you told us and what actions we are taking.

The theme of this installment:  In case you didn’t know.  I personally read each of the 90 separate comments that you took the time to write. Several individuals made improvement suggestions that are already in flight. I’d like to address the most common here:

  • Your feedback: Hold CTR webinars at convenient times for all parts of the globe and make them available for replay
  • Our response: As our global reach grows, we will schedule our webinars at times that work for time zones outside the United States.   For the foreseeable future, we will continue to offer the sessions at 7:00 am pacific time which works for North America, Europe and Africa (but not as well for Australia, India, and Asia).
  • What we are already doing:  All webinars are recorded and made available to our members for viewing at a time that is convenient for you.  The PowerPoint is also available. You can find both on the website at the Members Resource Center. (Nonmembers can download the PowerPoint for public webinars from the Home page.) Please contact Andy Vance ( if you need help locating it and he will provide you with a link to both the slides and recording. We also send the slides and a link for the recording to everyone who registers for a webinar so go ahead and sign up even if you cannot attend the live webinar.
  • Your Feedback: I would like to have opportunity to ask questions about how to implement TDRp or on specific topics where my organization is having particular challenges.
  • Response:  We hear you!  Each organization has its unique issues and challenges when implementing TDRp.  While our webinars provide a forum for asking questions, most practitioners want an opportunity to discuss their issues one-on-one.
  • What we are already doing:  Starting in 2015, we offer custom coaching bundles for practitioners.  Check out our website at Also, the webinar Implementation Guidance is designed to be a forum for your questions on implementation. It is 90 minutes so bring your questions!
  • Your Feedback: I would love to see the basics workshop content broken into a Virtual College Class format
  • Our response: We agree! We realize that several days out of the field and travel expenses can be a barrier to attending the two-day face-to-face workshop.
  • What we have in the works: We plan to offer virtual workshops in May and again in November.  The workshops will be conducted over a series of 2 ½ hour session per week for five weeks. Between sessions you will be assigned homework and will be expected to report back on your progress at the subsequent session. We feel that this format will not only make the workshop more accessible, but will enable you to apply the material in real time as we progress.  Sign up now for one of the two sessions to let us know your interest.
  • Feedback: Conduct more webinars like the one Jeff Higgins did.
  • Response: We agree. We are working with thought leaders in the field of HR and learning measurement to deliver additional webinars in 2015.  If you have suggestions for specific speakers, please send them our way.   Read our monthly newsletter and emails or check our website for new events.


Still a Long Way to Go

By Dave Vance

HCM Advisory Group (the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Service) just released research on measurement in L&D organizations. There were 335 respondents representing companies of all sizes, and 65% of the respondents were at the director level or above. So, a good sample!

The survey asked what measures are shared with company executives to demonstrate the impact of training on the organization, which is a great question. Not surprisingly, 77% report output data like number of participants and classes and 55% organize their output data by corporate initiative. Almost 60% report participant satisfaction. These two measures tell an executive that you are busy doing something and that the participants like whatever it is that you are doing. Thirty-six (36%) report business impact and 22% report ROI. While some executives are interested in output data and satisfaction, research by Jack Phillips and others consistently shows that senior leaders really want to know 1) how well aligned L&D is with corporate goals, 2) the impact of L&D initiatives on those goals, and 3) the value of the L&D initiatives. The good news is that more than half organize their output data by company initiative which shows alignment.

The bad news is that only 36% report business impact and only 9% ROI. Company executives are clearly not getting what they really want. Is it really any wonder why many executives are still skeptical of their investment in L&D? Impact and value are less important for compliance training and basic skills where the goal should be to design and deliver them as efficiently and effectively as possible. In other words, find the least cost way to do what needs to be done. However, for “discretionary” (not mandated by law or absolutely essential) initiatives, it is absolutely critical that they be tightly aligned to the organization’s key goals, actually contribute to achieving the company’s goals (have impact), and be worth doing (the likely benefit will exceed the cost). Or else these initiatives simply should not be undertaken. So, alignment, impact and value are all important, and, since most organizations do invest in discretionary training, company executives need to hear about these measures. So, we still have a long way to go.

To close the gap, learning leaders need to start doing a more proactive job on the front end meeting with the CEO or other senior leader to learn next year’s company goals and then meeting with individual goal owners to determine if discretionary training programs could help achieve their goal. If it appears L&D could help achieve a goal, the goal’s owner and senior L&D leaders need to agree on the specifics of the initiative, the planned impact of the initiative on the goal, and on what will be required from each party to deliver the planned impact (like reinforcement by the goal owner and stakeholders). They should also discuss the expected cost and benefit to make sure the program is worth doing.  Talent Development Reporting principles (TDRp) is designed to help learning leaders do all of this, but whatever methodology is employed, we need more proactive focus on these three measures (alignment, impact, and value) which are so important to company executives.

Note: The Outcome Measures List and Summary Report in TDRp will show the impact of L&D initiatives on each important company goal. You can list the key L&D initiatives for each goal to show the alignment of programs to goals. And the Program Report is a great place to show not only the impact but the cost and value (net benefit or ROI) of the L&D programs.