Basic Training: Trends in Learning & Development Departments - Pharmaceutical Executive


Basic Training: Trends in Learning & Development Departments
Educating employees has put big companies like GE and AT&T into leadership roles—and padded the bottom line. What is pharma doing to get the training wheels off its potential?

Pharmaceutical Executive

Trend in Measurement Tools and Metrics
Some L&D departments are taking on nontraining responsibilities as well. At the medical device company B. Braun Medical, the training team leads the organization's national sales meeting, establishing the agenda based on input from the sales and marketing organization. "Our training department has gained a lot of credibility in recent years by heading up projects such as succession planning for field managers," says Kevin Glover, director of sales training and development. His department also leads the effort to create a defined sales process to help the company accelerate the growth of B. Braun's most profitable IV product. "Typically, these kinds of initiatives are driven by HR or marketing, but we [in training] are often asked to lead the effort. This gives us a high degree of influence."

Trend 2: Measurement Mania

Kevin Glover, B. Braun Medical
Another factor that is helping pharma L&D departments command more corporate respect is better data. Training executives—not just inside the pharma industry—have known for some time that simple post-course evaluations that generate Level 1 ROI data aren't enough to justify future investments in training. These days, when training directors come together, the discussion often turns to metrics. "Organizational leaders are requiring that metrics be provided long after the event to show impact on performance and the bottom line," Sanofi's Capaldi says. "This doesn't necessarily mean cost savings, but rather that the training dollars spent actually lead to positive changes for the learner and their customers." Today's trainers also are armed with better tools to capture these metrics than in the past. For example, new technology on the market is allowing training departments to pool performance data, test results, financial data, and other metrics to create "dashboards." Using dashboards, trainers and managers can view an employee's performance on test scores, time to completion, and compliance on policy exams.

Whichever measurement tools pharma companies choose to use, more are looking outside of the industry for answers. Firms like IBM, for example, have developed specific methodologies to assess how well their learning programs support their organizational objectives. IBM's five-step measurement methodology takes a proactive, rather than retrospective, approach to measuring how well training works. Instead of asking "What happened?" the model asks "What should happen?" and then "maps" the way for learning design and delivery.

Another key question that pharma trainers are asking is: What do we measure? When Pfizer shed its divisional structure for a more nimble business unit structure this year, Vice President of US Sales Training Tim Kern saw it as an opportunity to "open up training's wares" to other Pfizer groups, such as medical and marketing. When it comes to measurement, Pfizer tends to concentrate its efforts on new initiatives. "We focus on what are the real cost drivers, or what equates to real field-force effectiveness," Kern says. "The key is agreeing to what the evaluative metrics are up front." According to respondents in the 2007 benchmark study, the most commonly used metrics involve testing trainees' knowledge after a course; surveying learners on the course value; and developing competencies or standards of desired behaviors. Pharma organizations, like companies in other industries, continue to develop competency models for key roles like district managers and representatives. More than 90 percent of companies link their representatives' training to a competency model, while 85 percent of companies connect their DM training to a formalized standard.


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