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Everybody recognises that training and coaching are important, both in terms of personal development and the aims of an organisation.

However, where many businesses seem to fall down is measuring the outcomes of their training, and evidencing the progress that’s been made.

While training as a mandatory exercise is better than no training at all, it’s not conducive to effective development. Fixing this requires better planning, but also a shift in the way training and coaching are perceived – seeing them as an ongoing process to develop and enrich assets, rather than a box that needs to be ticked.

The value of training and coaching

Today’s labour market is particularly competitive. Many positions have a surfeit of applicants, and evidence suggests that young employees are increasingly happy to switch jobs, either in the pursuit of a better wage or better job satisfaction. While not every business can compete on the first count, the second is much more nuanced. A good work/life balance is often spoken about, but this isn’t just about generous paid holiday or a home working policy; it’s about a work life that supports a good personal life.

One aspect of this is personal development. Ideally, an employee should have a clear means of progression through an organisation, with the prospect for promotion and advancement being clearly communicated. Where this isn’t possible, however – or as a means to achieve it – personal development offers another form of progression. By undertaking training or coaching, individuals can gain skills that will help them both in their career and personal life, while also developing their CV should they decide to look elsewhere.

The aim for organisations is to balance both forms of progression. Through training and coaching, they can ensure that employees feel they are growing and improving in periods where they can’t otherwise be substantially rewarded. In doing so, they’re also improving the skillsets of their employees, and investing in their futures. This makes employees feel valued, and encourages them to stay, as they will anticipate either further personal development, further professional development, or both.

While they can be a means to promote internally, both training and coaching can also be used to enhance existing skills, ensuring employees remain competent and adaptive in their roles. With the right training, employees can also improve everything from their communication to their ability to work well with others, enhancing productivity and granting them greater confidence in their abilities and work. All of this contributes to a workforce that is both happier and more capable than one without training or coaching.

Why measuring training and coaching is important

When organisations neglect to record and measure the outcomes of their training and coaching initiatives, they run into several risks. Firstly, they could be inadvertently pouring resources into ineffective training methods. It may seem like an obvious point, but if you don’t measure the outcomes of your training, you have no empirical evidence that it’s worked. Without this, you have nothing to judge it by, and no means to improve its delivery.

Without a clear understanding of training outcomes, organisations can also lack a sense of direction. They might drift into aimless strategies, which are neither efficient nor aligned with their objectives. Employees can feel the brunt of ineffective training, too. Few things are more frustrating than receiving training on something you already know, and may know better than the trainer, yet this remains an all too common occurrence. Without any information on the quality of training, it could actually have a negative effect on employee morale and a negligible effect on their abilities, all with a significant expenditure.

How to measure training outcomes

Some approaches to measuring training outcomes are obvious. Feedback and surveys, while simple, can be extremely beneficial for receiving immediate feedback after training, while opinions on it are fresh. This may draw some overly negative and positive reactions, but it will also highlight valid opinions and observations that may be forgotten by the time candidates come to leave a review, or complete an online survey after the fact.

Assessing key performance indicators after training can also offer valuable insights. After training on a topic such as sales, you might want to monitor metrics such as sales volume or conversion rates to show how the training might have impacted them. This should be approached carefully, however: not all training that fails to impact KPIs in a statistically noticeable way is bad training. It may simply be the first step in a process, or improve skills that demonstrate themselves in other ways.

This highlights the need to approach training in a way that engages staff. Part of the impact of training will be in the comfort and confidence of employees to carry out their work, pose questions, and seek new or creative solutions to tasks. These benefits can be ephemeral and hard to measure, but they may present themselves in other ways. One is the receptiveness of employees to future or further training, as well as the desire to improve existing processes. Avenues should be made available for employees to pursue further training, and to provide suggestions where training may unearth more effective ways of working.

Observations by managers before and after training can also provide qualitative insights into performance improvements. Most organisations will look for a way to juxtapose the cost of training against the benefits it has achieved, but this can be framed in many different ways, whether that’s monetary gains, efficiency improvements, or employee satisfaction. The latter metric is most clearly demonstrated by employee retention. Once again though, this should be seen in a wider context. Regularly polling staff and analysing retention rates and performance over a long period can help to support this conclusion, and weed out coincidental data.


While training and coaching are inherently valuable, their true potential is unlocked only when their impact is measured and understood. This starts with an understanding of the value of training in general, and a specific course in particular. Understanding this gives you a baseline for what the potential improvements could be – and a means to measure how close employees are to reaching those goals.

Need a helping hand with your training and development plans?

Working in partnership with you, we provide insight and assistance to help you achieve your development goals. Whether you are looking to gain a better understanding of your training and development gaps, build training plans across multiple teams, or need bespoke training solutions for a particular challenge, we can help identify your options and the solutions available.

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Mark Fryer

23rd November 2023

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