In the mid 90's, with the advent of Daniel Goleman's best-selling book, the concept of Emotional Intelligence gained popularity. Emotional Intelligence presented a new means to understand and improve people's performance because it could be applied to a wide variety of organizational development areas. While many businesses followed the approach of assessing their people's Emotional Intelligence, this did not guarantee the development of skill. In addition, without a means to measure impact, it was difficult to prove the worth of a training or development program aimed at improving skill.

While improvements in soft skills, such as Emotional Intelligence, are more difficult to determine, they can be measured by employing a variety of approaches. To verify value for the individual and the organization, the results, when taken together, should show a trend toward improvement of skill. And that value should be determined beyond level 1 or 2 evaluations (how participants felt and could they perform in the classroom). They should target level 3 and 4 evaluations (use on the job and the impact on the company or return on investment). Below are a few key steps detailing how to obtain level 3 and 4 evaluations for EI skill-building training or any soft-skill training initiative.

  • The first step is to set goals or objectives for the intervention. Set both individual and organizational goals. These goals serve as a guide against which the intervention results can be measured.
  • Determine additional pre and post measures. Methods of measurement might include the use of any of the EI assessment tools available as well as other organizational measures such as climate surveys, organizational assessment surveys, or change effectiveness surveys. Remember that EI 360 degree instruments provide information that provides insight from subordinates, managers and peers, while an individual, subjective tool will likely not offer as broad a view. Just be sure that the assessment tool is measuring what you teach.
  • Depending on the organizational goals, you might include pre and post organizational internal measures such as health care claims, absenteeism, employee engagement/satisfaction scores, and customer or patient satisfaction scores. Check with the organization to determine if there are any additional internal measures that might be appropriate.
  • As a part of the program, include a coaching component. While information obtained during the coaching sessions is confidential, you can make overall observations for the group based on individual statements.
  • At the conclusion of the program, conduct impact interviews with the participants. Focus on the objectives identified at the beginning of the program. Ask for specific examples of improvements in goal areas (i.e., increased productivity, improved conflict resolution, less stress and worry, increased work/life balance, etc.). Some of these improvements can be easily translated into dollar ROI. For example a participant may indicate increased sales as a result of the training. Or she might indicate some other productivity improvement that saved man-hours. Just be sure to generate a conservative estimate when translating improvements into dollar ROI.
  • The last step is to share the results with your customer and the participants through an informal or formal report. When improvements are shared with participants, this reinforces the use of the techniques learned during the training and ensures continued benefit and value for the business and the individual.

Together, the above steps will result in information that can be used to determine the value of the intervention. Even if it is not feasible to employ all the steps, be sure to identify at least two or three methods of measuring your soft skills program. You'll have both qualitative and quantitative data from which to identify trends, draw conclusions and make recommendations.

Author's Bio: 

Tailoring the art and science of emotional intelligence skill-building to your needs, Byron Stock offers high-energy, emotional intelligence training, speaking, coaching and testing programs that focus on results. Visit his site to download a free excerpt of his book.