From ineffective training to continuous improvement

By Lars Pedersen, CEO, Questionmark

Employers recognize that staff training is vital.  Many of them are prepared to put their money where their mouth is.  Each year, organizations spend $130 billion on learning and development programs.[1] 

Yet, despite the investment, research shows that just 25% is effective.[2]

As a result, workers fail to gain the skills they need.  According to global management consultancy firm, McKinsey, 87% of employers are experiencing or anticipating a skills shortage.[3]

Why is the money poured into training failing to equip workers with the skills they need? 

Typically, learning and development programs may have two common problems.

First, they struggle to respond quickly to changing business requirements.  Instead, they focus on long-term goals.  By the time these goals are met, the goalposts have shifted.

Second, they are not based on real and reliable data about the current state of workforce skills.

Measuring the progress and performance of workers with skills assessments provides clear and reliable data that can help employers make better decisions about the people they manage. 

With access to this data, employers can take a better approach to training. 

We call that approach the “continuous improvement cycle.”  

It focuses on constantly reassessing the skills that are needed across teams and business functions.  It uses staff skills assessments to understand where areas of weakness lie across the organization and delivers training programs to help workers eliminate that weakness.

It has six clear steps:   

  1. Identify priority skills: an employer must regularly review what the priority skills are needed for each business function.  These will evolve and, when the business landscape is moving quickly, could shift radically.
  • Isolate the biggest areas of weakness: through staff skills tests, managers must measure the prevalence of these skills and identify where gaps or weaknesses exist.  Which team members are struggling the most?  Is there a particular aspect of the skill which team members are unable to grasp?
  • Select or create the appropriate training: which programs will strengthen the necessary skills?  Which team members need to participate?  What tailored training is required for individuals?
  • Determine whether the training was effective: once complete, did team members understand the training while it was taking place?  Did they retain the knowledge after the program finished?
  • Identify high potential and areas of strength: although correcting weakness is the primary objective, tests will generate information that could indicate high performance.  This information should be used to make better decisions on promotions, career development, and high-potential training.
  • Regularly repeat this process: employers can ensure improvement programs stay focused.

Delivering workplace training as part of a continuous improvement cycle can ensure that training is precise, relevant, and timely.  It depends on data generated by ongoing staff skills assessments. 

For more information on how employers can use the continuous improvement cycle to increase performance, read the recent Questionmark Viewpoint report: “Continuous skills improvement.”

We have worked with employers around the world helping them develop dynamic and data-informed training.  For more information on our enterprise-grade assessment platform, visit




Author: Editorial Team

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