Baselines: What They Are and Why They Are Important - Training and Development

When you're taking an automobile trip, it's nice to know where you are, how far you've come, and how far it is to your destination. Does that explain the reasons for pre-, post-, and intermediate-measurement activities?

Enlightened learning systems consider such measurement, accompanied by the appropriate feedback, as integral to every growth or change process. To measure progress toward a destination or objective, you must know where you started. "Where you start" is a baseline.

Baselines are imperative in pre measurement and post measurement. Somebody needs to count the number of imperfect performance units. Probably someone should place caprice tag on each defective unit. There need to be figures about such things as rejects, grievances, undecided grievances, customers lost—whichever key indicator can be identified as a reliable index of the problem performance. The process for establishing baselines is simple enough—but it isn't always easy to find that key indicator. In finding indicators, acceptance by the client management is essential.

The three steps to baseline measurement involve:

  1. Defining in the most precise terms possible the object to be measured. This is that key indicator: tasks accomplished; faulty accomplishments; dollars spent;dollars wasted; time wasted; numbers of students.
  2. Defining the numerical scale from which the number or measurements will be assigned.

Making sure that the measurement procedure is analogous to reality, and that it won't be contaminated by uncontrollable variables such as strikes, floods,depressions, new policies, or new procedures.

Baselines can be established for individuals as well as for organizations. Perhaps one manager is giving a decision in only three often grievances per year. Maybe in a population of thirty managers, only 63 of256 grievances per year are settled; the rest are "kicked upstairs."The T&D manager wants pre- and post baselines to justify and evaluate the program. Instructors and learners want individual baselines so that they can set personal priorities and measure their successes. This is just a practical application of the D - M -1 formula. To measure deficiencies (what trainee still needs to learn) one repeatedly measures the "I" (what the trainee now knows).

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