Training and development refers to a variety of educational and learning-based activities that are used to acquire knowledge or skills needed by an employee to perform effectively on the present job. Training activities can vary in complexity - a classroom seminar, computer-based learning, an in-house executive course, individual coaching and mentoring.
Training and development has become an essential component of most organizations for a number of reasons:
- From an organizational perspective, training provides the means to maintain the organization's competitive advantage by attracting and retaining its employees. For example, the Gartner Group has discovered that those organizations spending over four percent of their salary budget on training and development for informatics staff tend to retain twice as many employees as those who spend less. The competition for staff is so stiff in certain areas that the willingness of an organization to provide the commitment to develop and train its staff provides a powerful incentive to remain. Training and development is an indispensable strategy that helps facilitate the achievement of an organization's mission or to successfully complete any large-scale change.
- The locus of organizational functioning has changed from the traditional rules-based approach to a more decentralized and empowered mode of operation. Employees must use their skills, abilities and creativity to solve problems, work in teams and resolve conflicts. With training and development, employees can improve the quality of their work, make fewer mistakes, evolve toward more progressive responsibilities and serve their clients more effectively. In the future, levels of training and development will likely increase as change accelerates with new personal productivity tools and different ways of communicating and coordinating activities.
A new approach to measuring training and development
Measuring the effectiveness of training and development is often an informal and unsophisticated practice, despite the large amounts of the salary budget allocated to it. Often assessment consists of completing a one or two page evaluation form at the culmination of a training course. The quality of this information to make effective strategic decisions regarding training and development is of minimal value.
Without such information, budgetary decisions to do not ensure an adequate return on the investment of training and development funds. The full potential for training and development to support critical organizational change and to promote improved employee growth/job satisfaction is minimized.
The course management index (CMI) is a new and innovative instrument used to measure the effectiveness of training events from a lifecycle point of view. The lifecycle approach ensures that measurement tracks the progress of a training event from the initial perceptions of participants (baseline measures), through their reaction to its content and delivery (design/delivery measures). Further, it assesses the degree to which participants acquired the desired knowledge and/or skill (knowledge acquisition/skill development measures) and the degree to which the participant applied these abilities on the job (learning application measures). The CMI also tracks the cost of developing and delivering the training event (financial measures).