By Bonnie Beresford, MBA

Isolating the impact of training–or any human performance technology (HPT) investment–is a complex process, made more so by the plethora of “other factors” that can influence performance. The effectiveness of programs may vary by tenure, region, management support, or prior performance, to name a few. Identifying and adjusting for these factors is crucial to accurately measure and isolate impact.

Many discussions around measurement focus on the metrics and investments; however, we cannot forget those important secondary variables that ensure a more accurate evaluation and provide a rich understanding of the performance environment. As keenly noted by Thomas Gilbert, there is more than training that influences performance. This session will explore how to capture and use these other “influencers” of performance when measuring impact:

  • Demographic Variables: Do more experienced workers do better? Do salespeople selling cars in the Detroit area have a sales advantage over others elsewhere in the country? Is a particular training program more effective for workers who do not have the advantage of a higher education?
  • Selection Variables: A simple way of measuring the effect of a performance improvement program might be to look at the relative performance of people who benefited from the program, compared to those who did not. But, is there a fundamental difference between people who are selected for a training program from those who are not selected?
  • Key Performance Indicator Interactions: Is there more than one variable that you could use for an outcome measurement? For example, does a job aid in a call center improve customer satisfaction, call handling time, or selling rate? An analysis will sometimes focus on just one of those variables, and not look whether other ones are affected, or whether the variables actually have some interplay between them. For example, call handle time can easily be improved, if you do not care what happens to the rest of the metrics.
  • Latent Variables:Some influencers are a bit more abstract, like engagement with your manager or quality of a work team. Capturing them can be tricky, but you do not want to ignore them. Creating such constructs is a combination of art and science, and can add much credibility and insight into any performance analysis.

By capturing these variables, you will better understand what affected performance. In the larger picture, you will then be able to refine and deploy the initiaitve to those who receive the most benefit and eliminate the time, expense, and lost productivity by excluding people who will not benefit. This holistic view of measurement leads to deeper and more credible analysis and to more actionable business results.

BonnieBeresfordBonnie Beresford, MBA, is vice president, client services, at Capital Analytics. She has extensive experience in measurement, process improvement, training, and performance support. Her ROI and business impact work earned ASTD’s “Excellence in Practice” and CLO’s “Business Impact” awards for her clients. She has presented at ISPI, ASTD, Conference Board, CLO, and Corporate University Week conferences and and Human Capital Institute webinars. Bonnie serves on the ISPI Michigan board. She is pursuing her PhD in human capital management.

To learn more about this and other educational sessions at THE Performance Improvement Conference 2013 in Reno, NV, April 14-17, please go to Register today at!