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How to Implement a Learning Scorecard

Why is a learning scorecard needed for your company? If you’ve received some of the following questions, then you know you need to implement one.

  • Questions from your employees

Why are we taking this training? How will this learning course help me on the job? What is the point of our new learning and development push?

  • Questions from your C-Suite managers

Is this worth the budget we allocated to training? How will training our employees help with more sales? What is the goal of training and development?

And there may be even more questions from outside extensions of your company. Shareholders may question how employee training will get them more return on their money. And how does your training and development impact your customers?

Basically, a learning scorecard helps analyze and answer these questions. Think of it as a snapshot of how your training program is performing in direct relationship to your company goals. It holds training accountable. So each training objective should be tied to a company goal and shown how it supports and helps achieve these goals. Plus, a learning scorecard is meant to be fluid. As an organization shifts its goals, the scorecard must also change.

What is a learning scorecard?

A learning scorecard is a performance management tool that is used to visually see how goals will be met across your organization. So it looks at how your goals are being measured, how you are managing to meet these goals, and what improvements will need to be made along the way to achieve these. Plus, it ties together the various audiences both internal and external who are responsible for achieving your company goals. Everyone can see what role they play in the process and understand what the company direction is.

1. Learning and Growth:

This section or learning scorecard is a look at your company culture. What do your employees know? Are they up on the latest industry trends? If you have a central place for training like a learning management system, is it effective? Do your employees have the technology to do their jobs effectively?

2. Internal Business Process

This portion of the learning scorecard looks at how your company is running both internally and externally interacting with your customers. Basically, how is your process? Can it be faster or more efficient? Are there areas that are wasting time converting sales? How quickly can your business implement changes? If new ideas are brought to the table, can they be executed?

3. Customer

While it’s important to do everything you can to improve your internal process, it’s equally important to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What do they want from your company? Are your current customers happy enough to become repeat customers? Is your sales team converting new leads? What would your customers say about you that would differ from your competition?

4. Financial

As we discussed, learning scorecards were created so businesses would look beyond the financials for business success metrics. However, the goal is to be profitable, so financial must still be part of the equation. Ask yourself some simple questions. Are you making the money you are projected to make? If you have shareholders, are their expectations being met? Do your employees feel fairly compensated compared to their industry peers?

Creating the framework for a learning scorecard

Now that you know what a learning scorecard is, how do you create an effective one?

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Planning phase

Here are the key components to think about in planning for your learning scorecard.

1. Draft learning objectives

As the head of training, it’s important to discuss with the other C-suite managers what they hope to gain from training. Basically, what does each department want their employees to learn and know. For example, for a sales director, does he or she need their team trained in a certain sales tool that the industry leaders are now using to gain customers? Or is the head of marketing starting a collateral redesign and needs employees trained in a certain design software?

Remember to keep these objective high level and each objective should be tied to an overall goal for the company. Aim for at least two or three objectives that help solve for each company goal.

2. Refine learning objectives

After receiving these learning objectives, it’s time to further refine these. Sometimes it’s difficult for each department to pinpoint their learning and development needs. It’s your job to help define these so the end result is beneficial for the department, company, and the employees. By asking these questions to each department, you can better tailor each learning objective.

  • What is the current level of competency or skill, knowledge, and values (SKV) of your employees?
  • What is your expected level of SKV for each of your employees to perform their jobs at the level needed?

3. Learning method for employees

Once you have your learning objectives created, the next step is implementing these. Each employee learns differently. Some employees may have more knowledge of a subject over their peers. And some employees may pick up a new skill faster than others. So it’s important to choose several methods to implement this training.

It’s also important to survey employees to find out what they hope to gain from this new training initiative. Are they looking to advance within the company? Do they want to build out a certain skill set? Do they see themselves moving departments in the future? Basically, how is this training fulfilling them.

4. Grouping employees to be trained

In order to simplify your training process, define a system for assessing each employee prior to training. You could use a simple point system to apply to each employee. Score them on their current skill set. Once you compare apples to apples you can begin to put each employee into the proper training program.

Implementation phase

Once you have planned what will go into your learning scorecard, the next phase is how do you structure your thoughts in a comprehensive way so that your entire organization can understand your direction. In order to do this, you want to tie your objectives together in a visual way. The best way to do this is by creating a strategy map.

1. Add learning and training objectives to the strategy map

A strategy map is a diagram that shows your company’s strategy on a single page. This visual will show all employees how their job and their personal development help achieve the overall company goals. It should be divided into four sections that we mentioned above, financial, customer, internal business process, and learning and growth.

So to begin, take each of your learning and development objectives and place these under the learning and growth section of your strategy map. Also, make sure you coordinate with the other department heads so that your learning objectives are compatible with those for the other three sections: financial, customer and internal business process. Remember you don’t want to overcomplicate this process, so don’t use more than 20 or so objectives.

2. Connecting learning objectives across departments

After you have added your learning objectives to your strategy map under the learning and growth section and the other three areas are also filled out, you need to connect objectives together. This will ensure that your learning and training objectives align with the other objectives for the company. Then draw circles around each objective on your map. Next draw arrows to connect your training and learning initiatives to the other three areas of your map.

Here is an example of how the learning scorecard impacts an entire strategy map:

  • Train sales team in new CRM (learning and growth) → Increase knowledge of current customers (internal business process) → improve personalized customer experience (customer) → increase profit on current customer base (financial)

As you can see, training impacts employees which impacts customer knowledge which impacts customer satisfaction, which then translates into profit. Charting your objectives in this way shows how your training objectives touch various departments and then become measurable into dollars.

Analysis phase

Since 80 percent of organizations using a learning scorecard reported improvements in operating performance, this is a great tool to analyze your level of success in your training initiatives. So how do you take your strategy map and test that your objectives are working? There are several ways you can analyze your results. Here are a few different ways:

  • Color code your objectives

A very simple solution is to color-code your objectives red, yellow or green based on how you see these objectives being carried out.  This is an easy way for the organization to see which objectives need to be worked on and where others are excelling.

  • Add measures to map

Another method is to attach measures into the map under each objective. So for example, your objective is to train developers on a new software program. Your measure maybe for every employee to be certified by year-end in this new program.

  • Create subheads

If you have a more complex company structure or you need more detail, you can add subheads under each of the four categories. For example, under the learning scorecard, you could have train employees, new software rollout, and new employee assessment. Then each of these subheads would have objectives underneath that would solve for that particular subhead.

  • Company goals listed

Since training objectives and the other objectives you listed are meant to support your company goals, then you can add these goals directly to your strategy map. Place these goals at the top of your map. This will provide a double check to make sure you are solving for these goals.

How do I create a learning scorecard?

Now that you know the process of creating a learning scorecard, how do you create one electronically? There are several templates online, software to buy or if you are just starting out, you can use a program like Excel, Google Sheets or even Powerpoint. As we mentioned before, there are several ways to customize the strategy map to fit your company’s needs. But here are the key elements needed to create one.

1. Objectives

As we mentioned before, each objective should be listed under one of the four categories, learning, and growth, internal business process, customer of financial. Here are the other elements to think about in terms of your objectives:

  • Who is responsible for the success of each objective? Assign an employee to each objective.
  • How do you plan to achieve each objective?
  • When should these objectives be completed? Add start and end dates to each one.

2. Tactics

Once you have added your objectives, it’s time to add in your tactics. These tactics should be able to answer the question above: how do we achieve our objectives? These tactics should be written in a way that they can be measured and analyzed. Plus, if some are complex, it’s a good idea to add milestones in between the start and end dates. That way, these tactics can be broken down into smaller sections.

3. Measures

Next, add in measures to each tactic. This will help you determine if you met each objective. Make sure these measures are tangible so that they are easy to measure. Use numbers, percentages, and increments of time like quarters to help track success or needing improvement.

Becoming an expert in learning scorecards

We’ve covered the basics of why you need a learning scorecard, how to create one, and what to analyze from your objectives. However, if you want to learn more and become an expert, there are several places to become learning scorecard accredited. The Performance Management Group LLC offers training and certificate programs. They have trained over 6,000 people in over 80 countries. So it’s a great idea to become learning scorecard accredited to deepen your knowledge. And after a little practice, you’ll be able to execute a success learning scorecard that achieves company goals and adds to the profit margin.

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