L&D professionals know it is important to show value or prove impact. Often these words are associated with terms like cause and credit. To take it a step further, words like perfect and precise are thrown around too. Occasionally this makes sense. Maybe every 3 to 5 years a causal analysis on a strategic or costly program should be done. However, using terms like cause and credit on a regular basis can be controversial.
L&D conversations about impact should be collaborative, not controversial. So choose your words carefully because they matter. We suggest using terms like contribution and connection in replacement of cause or credit. On a daily basis, it is challenging to know what really caused the impact. As a result, nobody should be taking all the credit for it either. So just avoid those words when you don't have perfect and precise data to prove it or you aren't using a credible model like the ROI Process or regression analysis.
Nonetheless, you should still welcome the conversation about impact and value. It can definitely be a constructive dialogue without using terms like cause and credit. If you say L&D made a positive contribution to a business or talent outcome and you list out what L&D did to connect the program to the outcome, that is a good story and a meaningful discussion. For example, if the data shows a positive trend in customer service results over time and 80% of people attending customer service training rated it highly impactful, that is a reasonable connection. It would be even better if a naturally occurring control group showed the trained group had higher customer satisfaction scores vs. a non-trained group.
Yet, the tone of the impact conversation is around contribution and connection. Perhaps the program had specific pre-work, exercises, role plays, content, post-support and coaching that reinforced customer satisfaction best practices and those are the items that should be discussed to tell the story of your connection vs. trying to tell the business manager you caused the improvement in customer service. If you attempt to say you caused something, you alienate everything and everyone that is also making positive contributions toward the same result, which is unnecessary and counterproductive.
Further, don't use terms like perfect and precise unless you have done the work and have the data to back it up. Most of us operate in a world of roughly reasonable data. Evaluation scores, impact trends, and comments are roughly reasonable forms of evidence to show contribution and connection. Nothing is really perfect and learning data need not be precise. Business managers are fine with roughly reasonable evidence and they more likely want to hear your stories in the form of your contribution and connection versus debate with you about the credit you want to take or how much you caused something good to happen.
So remember, conversations should be constructive. Using roughly reasonable evidence of impact framed in your story of L&D contribution and connection matter. They'll create collaborative conversations that recognize many factors and many great people contribute to change. You just want to ensure management knows L&D was part of it and continues to connect to those results through its program design and delivery.
The Performitiv Team