Training Evaluation Made Easy By Rich Lucas
Commentary: If you try to take a complex issue and simplify it so idiots can understand it, you'll be fairly sure that your recommendations will only suit idiots. This might just be the case for the content of this article, which justifies its inclusion into our Oh, those Wacky Trainers section. There is actually some core value in the idea that it might be that we CANNOT evaluate training properly, due to its complexity, but the fact we cannot be perfect does not mean we give up or resort to platitudes.
We've reproduced this exactly as written by the author, so any spelling or grammar mistakes are the author's. If you hire trainers, you can use this article to help clarify in your head what you are looking for in a trainer or consultant you might hire. (RB)
The training world and its dog (and cat) have their own opinion on evaluation and assessment and we seem to hear the same argument time and time again. Usually around ROI and finding things to measure.
Like many who got into Training, I done so, because I like helping people (ok, and showing off!!) I love getting up in front of an audience and empowering, inspiring and motivating them. On a one to one level, I love talking through the issue and seeing the lights come on as the person I’m coaching realises what they have to do.
I did not (and I suspect many of you feel the same) get into training to do evaluation. Not that it isn’t important, far from it, its essential. But its just that, I suspect, trainers as a breed just don’t want to do it, sitting at a desk trying to find ways to measure training just doesn’t fit in.
So this piece is not written by someone who has a real passion for evaluation, nor whom evaluation has come easy for. I found little solace in evaluation theory, which had some good points but nothing to make it work in the real world. What I realised is that it was a waste of time completing a TNA, rolling out the training and then trying to evaluate something I didn’t understand fully what I was trying to measure. I therefore developed the supremacy method after lengthy trial and error.
Have we asked ourselves why did we do the training in the first place? What was the business need? What were our reasons for doing it again?
Let’s take evaluation in weight loss. You weigh yourself and set yourself a target weight over a period of time, but in training, one of the biggest crimes is that we don't bother setting the measurements, and before I upset anyone, I fully agree that training provides many, many intangible benefits that cannot be measured
But, we know we can't measure them, so why bother with them? Let’s work within our circle of influence and measure the measurable
When on a diet, the only thing we can measure is the pounds that drop off and the body measurements. Therefore, that's all we measure, we don't measure increased energy and sense of well being, but its there and we know its there, but if we can't quantify it, we'll just quietly enjoy it.
If you are going to evaluate, start from the very start (Training needs analysis) This I feel is the main reason evaluation falls down, like the weight loss scenario, know where you are and where you want to go, with yard sticks along the way and measure what you can measure
Ask yourself at all times "Why do we need this training?" Don't be scared to change the way you do things if you can't see the clear path as to why you are doing it
Identify any financial gains or savings (staff retentions, recruitment costs, increased profitability etc.) if you look hard enough, you can find them. Use the “this means that” drill down question. E.g.
Training motivates people
This means that, they’ll be happier at work
This means that, they will work more efficiently
This means that, more work will get completed
This means that, the company will increase productivity by… etc. etc.
It’s a lot easier to measure productivity financially then it is to measure motivation!
Don't be afraid of getting it wrong. Some trainers I worked with stopped evaluating when the evaluation process showed that their training intervention wasn’t working as planned and inevitably, sometimes, your evaluation will show that your training hasn't delivered the return on investment that you expected. This is what evaluation is for, so you can learn from it and tweak your practices and get it better next time
Always be evaluating!!!
More on practical evaluation at www.supremacytraining.com
Personal development expert, freelance trainer, author and founder of supremacy training solutions. I specialise in training delivery and design for businesses. My company delivers intergrated learning facilitation, coaching and ready to deliver training materials on leadership, training skills and personal development. See more at http://www.supremacytraining.com and get signed up to our monthly newsletter