We are going to review why a proper Training Evaluation is critical. Despite people being your most important asset, what do you cut back in difficult economic situations first? Training programs budget. As a matter of fact, management does not see tangible benefits from training. The interdependence of training, learning, use in the workplace and gain for the company must be clarified. It is time to review the training evaluation strategy to regain these lost budgets and prove the training program’s benefits.
Of course, the conversation should focus on the specific outcome that the learning provides. The trainer should provide compelling evidence that training is practical. As a matter of fact, it is necessary to take learning beyond the academic framework. It is time to show its fundamental purpose as an excellent tool to get an economic impact. Accordingly, the management will see the logic in the mandatory necessity and importance of protecting the training budget.
In their book, Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation, James D. Kirkpatrick and Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick review and upgrade the original four-level training evaluation model created by Don Kirkpatrick.
Three Reasons for Training Evaluation
Improve the Training Program
A proper training evaluation can effectively assist learning and performance professionals in analysing the quality of teaching materials and speakers. If the training program results testify to its positive perception and successful assimilation by the trainees, then such a program can be classified as practical training.
To make sure that coworkers use the newly acquired skill on the job
You can call the training program fully effective only when the new skill is relevant in practice. When the participants use the workplace knowledge newly learned. In this case, it is pretty realistic to achieve high-quality organisational results.
Training Evaluation to demonstrate its value
L&D professionals insist on the impossibility of demonstrating the value of training with numbers and facts. That is to say, the main argument is that there are too many variables to demonstrate the value of training. Human resources should be no exception. Like the rest of the organisation, they must confirm effective spending of financial and material resources allocated for training. Consequently, data collection is here to prove the training impact and value.
The Solution: 4 Levels of Training Evaluation
Dr Don Kirkpatrick proposed a four-level construction:
Level 1: Reaction. Here participants perceive learning as a favourable and exciting factor relevant to their work.
Level 2: Learning. Participants acquire potentially important knowledge, necessary skills, a balanced attitude, confidence, and sincere commitment.
Level 3: Behavior. At this stage, you examine the practical application by workers of the knowledge gained during training in the workplace.
Level 4: Results. Applying new knowledge and skills has a beneficial impact on the organisation and its Performance.
The New World Kirkpatrick model
Starting by level 4 provides a focus on what is the most important.
Level 4: Results
The degree and quality of the planned outcomes after training. By definition, we are talking about a set of organisational goals/missions and financial indicators. A good indicator is an affirmative answer to the following questions. “Is this what the organisation exists to do?”
Level 3: Behavior
This stage determines the practical application by participants of the knowledge gained during the training. The New World Level 3 Behavior consists of critical behaviours, required drivers, and on-the-job learning.
Critical behaviours are the few specific operations that, if performed regularly on the job, will significantly influence the desired results.
The New World training model, designed by Kirkpatrick, incorporates required drivers directly to Level 3 described above. Required drivers are methods and systems that strengthen, promote, and reward the Performance of critical behaviours on the job.
For example, such drivers are coaching, mentoring, control and verification of work performance, differentiated remuneration systems, and morally and financially supported recognition of quality tasks performed. When you reinforce knowledge and skills and add accountability and support, you can expect to receive up to 85% of your use at work.
This type of learning enters into New World Level 3 in recognition of two facts that are characteristic of the modern workplace:
- Up to 70% of the entire learning process occurs at the workplace.
- Personal responsibility, accountability and motivation are the key stimulants. This type of learning enters into New World Level 3 in recognition of two facts that are characteristic of the modern workplace:
Level 2: Training
This level determines the degree to which participants acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, correct attitude, confidence, and personal commitment during training. Factors of Confidence and Commitment Kirkpatrick integrated into Level 2.
Level 2 Learning Components:
- Knowledge: “I know that.”
- Skill: “I can do it right now.”
- Attitude: “I think it makes sense to do this in the workplace.”
- Confidence: “I think I can certainly handle my responsibilities at work.
- Commitment: “I will do it at work.”
A relatively common and subsequently costly mistake that many organisations make is as follows. Company management incorrectly defines low productivity as a lack of professional knowledge or skills of workers or employees. As a result, workers are constantly sent to training to improve their qualifications. The most common reason for the lack of quality work is a lack of motivation.
Level 1: Reaction
This level determines the degree of participants’ interest in learning, their attitude towards learning as an exciting and favourable factor, and their perception of learning as an element corresponding to their work.
This is one of the least important components of the program. Nevertheless, in the current practice, most of the trainers focused on it.
Engagement levels are interdependent with the level of learning achieved by the participants. Employees’ level of active participation in training and their practical personal contribution to this process will determine the level of engagement.
This indicator determines the degree to which participants use the knowledge gained during training in the workplace. Relevance as a metric is significant to maximise learning value. Any type and method of training are useless if the knowledge gained does not find application in the workplace in everyday work
Developing an Effective Training Evaluation Strategy
Defining Program Outcomes
Initially, the planning stage involves determining the actual Level 4 results. Once you have defined the goals for your organisation, discuss them with stakeholders. Define with them the learning goals of the training program and how it will look like success. Ultimately, this approach will help determine the program’s return on expectations (ROE).
With good planning and execution, you will easily reach Level 1. It is safe to assume that Level 2 training will more likely follow. The same can be expected with levels 3 and 4. If participants applied what they learnt during the program, it will more likely positively impact the organisation.
The most challenging part is moving from level 2 to 3. Learning new skills does not guarantee that you will use them on the job.
Designing the Evaluation Tools
According to the authors, popular training evaluation models such as ADDIE* perpetuate a false and counterproductive approach. Evaluation is not an afterthought to training. But instead, you have to integrate evaluation into the entire learning and development process.
*ADDIE: Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate.
Preparing Participants for Training
Managers should get their hands on the materials, present them to the training participants and confirm expectations.
Connecting training to Performance
During the training process, the instructor should often return to the question of how the information received by the participants will be implemented in their work. He should also regularly initiate discussion of any concerns of the audience regarding the implementation.
Support and Responsibility after Training
Upon workers’ return to their jobs, managers and supervisors must arrange an interview with their subordinates. They should ask the participants about their impressions, what they think about the new knowledge and how they plan to use it on the job.
After the interview, managers should document the follow-up tasks assigned to employees and then regularly monitor the fulfilment of the assigned tasks. But, as you know, most of the management is constantly busy. Therefore, it may be worth creating an environment where employees will be correct, encourage each other, and be accountable for their work results.
Demonstration of the creation of value seems to be the shortest and most straightforward step as long as you have correctly planned and executed the training. You just need to collect, organise and communicate the data to do this.
However, it should be noted that a defined plan is today not the starting point for many professionals. It makes it impossible to properly evaluate the benefits of the training program. Working backwards to try to gather data is almost impossible.
Training Evaluation Conclusion
Levels 1 and 2 of the Kirkpatrick New World model contain data and information relevant to quality learning. Such data are needed to determine the quality of educational programs developed within organisations. Levels 3 and 4 also provide valuable data for assessing the quality of learning. The New World Model diagram shows no direct transition from level 2 to level 3.
This is actually a critical discussion. The organisation often wants to put the sole responsibility of solving business problems on training, but these issues cannot be solved with training alone. So, you’ll need to discuss and confirm the required results and benefits for the organisation with all involved parties.
What will your next training focus be? Soft skills development? Improving collaboration between departments? Build a high-performance team? If you have questions or need support, do not hesitate to ask. David Gousset.