Throughout my career in training, I've observed that most companies often rely solely on participant feedback and pre-post assessments' data to measure the impact of their training programs. However, this approach falls short in truly assessing the impact of training on participant performance and its effects on business outcomes. Without a clear understanding of how participants perform after training and its influence on the organization, it's challenging to label any training program as a success.
In this article, I'll guide you on how to evaluate training in a more comprehensive way, enabling you to measure its actual impact on business and make necessary improvements to your training programs.
Why Participant Feedback and Pre-Post Training Assessments Aren't Enough:
It's quite common for participants to be uncertain about the training process, the content and the specific skills they are expected to acquire. Hence, they are not the best people to decide on the quality of a trainer or the training content.
Many trainers, skilled in communication, often leave a positive impression on learners. I've seen learners considering a trainers as experts who know almost everything under the sun. Such feelings directly impact the feedback they provide. Thus, irrespective of the training's quality, impressed learners are more likely to register positive feedback and higher ratings.
Post-training assessments play a crucial role in determining whether learners retain the training content. However, retention alone doesn't guarantee comprehension and application. While most learners can recall what they've learned, they might struggle to apply it in real-life scenarios. Hence, high test scores don't guarantee optimal on-the-job performance.
As a result, we can conclude that relying solely on participant feedback and Pre-Post Training Assessment data may not provide us with the complete picture.
How to Evaluate Training the Right Way:
Let's go a little further and understand how we can get the right data to evaluate training.
1. Check for Practical Application:
Investigate whether learners successfully apply what they've learned in their daily work. If they do, measure the positive impact on the business. If not, identify the barriers preventing them from doing so.
2. Identify Challenges in Applying Learnings:
Recognize any obstacles learners face when trying to apply newly acquired skills. Don't hastily conclude that the training was ineffective. Sometimes, learners may lack the appropriate environment and support to utilize their new knowledge, resulting in subpar performance.
3. Measure Impact on Organizational Goals:
Effective training programs are designed keeping clear and measurable organizational objectives and goals in mind. If the training clearly aligns with them and demonstrates a positive ROI, it can be deemed a success.
4. Engage Subject-Matter Experts:
The absence of expertise in training design, delivery, and evaluation often leads to the limited use of more advanced evaluation methods. Many organizations do not move beyond learner feedback and pre-post assessments due to a lack of qualified experts. Few trainers possess the skills required to perform such in-depth evaluations, and, at times, trainers may not consider learners' post-training performance as their responsibility.
To truly evaluate the effectiveness of training, it's vital to move beyond the surface-level methods and embrace a more comprehensive approach. By assessing practical application, addressing challenges, and measuring the impact on organizational goals, you can gain a deeper understanding of how training influences performance and drives business success. Moreover, engaging experts in the evaluation process can ensure a more thorough and accurate assessment of training programs.