INVESTING IN STAFF TRAINING
The need to develop staff capability to ensure treasury teams and businesses can meet their current as well as future goals isn’t a new phenomenon, but today’s senior treasury and finance managers, alongside their their learning and development teams, also have to drive these improvements with less money as well as demonstrate the benefit brought to the business as a result of a training course or learning programme.
As a result, one of the things we’re often asked when talking to our clients about ACT in-company learning (and if you’ve not heard about what we do, take a look here to find out), is how to prove the effectiveness of a treasury related learning programme and calculate the return on investment to the business.
MEASURE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TRAINING
When looking at question of learning programme effectiveness, a good place to start is with Kirkpatrick’s “four-level model for training course evaluation” which was created to help trainers measure the effectiveness of learning in an objective way. What it doesn’t do is answer the second half of our customers’ question, namely how to quantify the return on investment so after we’ve looked at the four levels, we’ll also look at an approach to calculate ROI.
Developed by Donald Kirkpatrick in 1959, the Kirkpatrick Model has seen several updates and revisions. It identifies four levels of learning evaluation, with each level building on the one before it. As a manager you can apply the same principles.
The most basic way to evaluate learning is to measure participant reaction. In a lot of cases, this will involve the trainer asking participants to complete a feedback form, use surveys, questionnaires or take verbal feedback at the end of the course. You can request a copy of this from you team's trainer for review or you can ask your team questions - you need to think about the specific questions and reactions you are looking for when devising the questions. Here are some examples:
- Did your team enjoy the training?
- Did they like the trainer?
- Would they want him or her back?
- Do they think they felt it was an appropriate use of their time?
- Do they think the material was relevant to their work?
- How likely would they be to recommend the course to colleagues?
The next level involves measuring the increase in knowledge, skills and abilities of the learners, which can be determined through tests, assessments, interviews or observation. This should come as a part of the training, so as a manager, you should review the results. Here's what you should look out for:
Any accredited course will come with a formal assessment or exam. As you’d expect from the ACT, all our qualifications feature formal assessments but, what you may not know, is that we can also build bespoke tests and assessments for our tailored learning programmes too depending on the outcome you're after. There are two types you should look out for in choosing accredited learning for your team:
a. Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) exams
These are a relatively straight forward way of testing comprehension as they allow for demonstration of learning recall. It doesn't necessarily mean it will be easy though! The questions should have been written by someone skilled. It’s not just about right and wrong answers - distractor answers are particularly important in testing for higher level qualifications.
b. Long answer questions
Long answer questions or assignments provide opportunity to demonstrate applied understanding so you can be confident your team will come away with a thorough comprehension that they can apply in the workplace.
For an example of what a long form question could look like for someone working as a relationship manager in a bank, you would want something like: “Highlight the key treasury and cash management issues from the perspective of the client and recommend (giving reasons why) how certain products and services would help meet their business needs.”
If formal assessment isn’t the objective, informal approaches used as an alternative. They provide highly valuable feedback and an indication that a learner has understood what they have learnt and allow them to demonstrate this in a highly practical, non-threatening way.
Some examples include:
- Questionnaires, issued 1-3 weeks after a course has taken place, provide a simple way of demonstrating learning. Participant answers can shed light on the extent to which they have gained specific knowledge and skills and can be graded and shared with line managers to help ensure that any gaps in knowledge can be addressed. Again using an example of relationship bankers, if your programme’s objective is to help bankers better understand treasurers, you could ask questions like:
- Do you feel better able to understand a client?
- Are you better prepared for the conversation?
- Have you made the journey from product to solution?
- How have you applied the key areas of this workshop to your approach to managing client accounts?
- Action planning is a simple assessment method but one with the potential to provide significant insight into the comprehension, application and potential change in participant behaviour. Post course, participants are provided with a template that asks them to write down the things they would stop doing, what they would do differently and the new things they would try (recorded in a start, stop, continue table), as a result of having been on the course. Participants can also be asked to identify barriers or additional resources they might need, which in turn can help pinpoint how to support their future needs.
- Presentations have similarities with Action Planning in that they can ask the same questions but provide participants with a verbal platform to demonstrate their understanding and forum for group discussion to draw out themes. This approach can be to the benefit of your wider team as they share their new found knowledge.
The third level of evaluation answers the question – are they applying what they learned? What behaviours are you seeking to change and are the knowledge and skills being applied on the job following training?
A way to understanding this would be to record a before and after snapshot of a set of behaviours and grade them against the learning objectives of the course. In our bank relationship programme example, this could be observation during client meetings, on the phone or the participants’ ability to obtain and record sales information.
This approach can demonstrate the degree to which participants apply their new knowledge in the real world. This can provide clear evidence of who is applying the training and who is not, and can lead management to correct misapplication, and reward close application after training.
At the end of the day, treasury training is about generating a business improvement. What specific business measures or KPIs (key performance indicators) do you want to change or improve as a result of the training?
Finally sticking with the example, the programme for relationship managers may have the following business improvement aims:
- An increase in sales
- Increased opportunities spotted from existing client base
- An increase in conversions
CALCULATING THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI) OF TEAM TRAINING
The other level of training evaluation relates to return on investment. What specific return on investment are you after as a result of the training?
To evaluate your return on investment from a training programme you implement, we suggest you:
- Take the course fee (cost)
- Add the facility fee if any applies (cost)
- Add staff wages that were spent during the course (cost)
- Add the opportunity cost of staff time spent during the course (cost)
- Measure the business improvement (e.g. measure the business impact on client meetings, conversion rates or even reduced attrition rates before and after the training to arrive at net gains in financial terms)
- Consider the financial gains in the long term (3 months, 6 months, 12 months?)
- Long-term net gains / Cost = return on investment (ROI)
WHY YOU NEED TO MEASURE BOTH EFFECTIVENESS AND ROI
You can of course use any of the levels in isolation but a combination of all will give you the full picture. If you choose to use all of them, usually, return on investment follows business impact, business impact follows application, application follows learning, and learning follows satisfaction with training, so choose your team training wisely in the first place!
Author: Samantha Baglioni