We are going review why a proper Training Evaluation is key. In times of difficult economic situations, despite people are your most important asset, what do you cut back first? Training programs budget. As a matter of fact, management does not see tangible benefits from training. The interdependence of training, learning, use on the workplace and gain for the company is not clear. It is time to review the training evaluation strategy to regain these lost budgets; to prove the benefits of the training program.
Of course, the conversation should focus on the specific outcome that the learning provides. The trainer should provide compelling evidence that training is effective. As a matter of fact, it is necessary to take learning beyond the academic framework. It is time to show its real purpose as a prime 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 evaluation can effectively assist learning and performance professionals in analyzing the quality of teaching materials, and speakers. If the results of the training program testify to its positive perception and successful assimilation by the trainees, then such a program can be classified as effective training.
To make sure, that coworkers used the new acquire skill on the job
You can call the training program fully effective only when the stated subject of training is relevant in practice. When the participant’s use at the workplace the knowledge newly learned. In this case, it is quite realistic to achieve high-quality organizational results.
Training Evaluation to demonstrate its value
L&D professionals insist on the impossibility to demonstrate the value of training with numbers and facts. That is to say, the main argument is that there are too many variables to be able to demonstrate the value of training. Human resources should be no exception. Like the rest of the organization, they have to 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 interesting factor that is relevant to their work.
Level 2: Learning. Participants acquire potentially important knowledge, necessary skills, 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. The application of the new knowledge, skills has a beneficial impact on the organization, 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 organizational goals/missions and financial indicators. A good indicator is an affirmative answer to the following questions. “Is this what the organization 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, which, if performed regularely on the job, will have the biggest influence on the desired results.
Talking about the New World training model, designed by Kirkpatrick, it incorporates required drivers directly to the 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, morally and financially supported recognition of quality tasks performed. When you reinforce knowledge and skills, add accountability and support, you can expect to receive up to 85% of use at work.
On the Job Learning
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, takes place on at the workplace.
- Personal responsibility, accoutability and motivation are the key stimulants.
Level 2: training
This level determines the degrees 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 fairly common and subsequently costly mistake that many organizations 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. In reality, the most common reason for the lack of quality of work is lack of motivation.
Level 1: Reaction
This level determines the degree of participants’ interest in learning, their attitude towards learning as an interesting and favourable factor, 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. The level of active participation of employees 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 extremely important to maximize 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 real Level 4 results. Once you have defined the goals for your organization, discuss with stakeholders. Define with them the learning goals of the training program, how will look like success. Ultimately, this approach will help you to determine the return on expectations (ROE) of the program.
With a good planning and execution, you will reach easely the Level 1. It is safe to assume that Level 2 training will more likely follow. The same can be expected with level 3 and 4. If participants applied what they learnt during the program , it will more likely impact positively the organisation.
The most challenging part is moving from level 2 to 3. Learning new skills do 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 rather you have to integrate evaluation into the entire learning and development process.
*ADDIE: Analyze, 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 the return of workers to their jobs, managers, and supervisors must arrange an interview with their subordinates. They should ask the participants about their impressions , awaht do 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 that they assign 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 to create an environment where employees will be correct, encourage each others; where they will be accountable for the results of their work.
Demonstration of the creation of value seems to be the shortest and simplest step, as long as you have properly plan and execute the training. To do this, you just need to collect, organize and communicate the data.
However, it should be noted that a defined plan is today not the starting point for many professionals. It makes impossible to properly evaluate the benefits of the training program. Working backward to try to gather data is almost impossible.
Levels 1 and 2 of the Kirkpatrick New World model contain data and information relevant to quality learning. Such data are needed mainly for the determination of the quality of educational programs that are developed within organizations. Levels 3 and 4 also provide valuable data for determining the quality of learning. The New World Model diagram shows that there is no direct transition from level 2 to level 3.
Therefore, you have to discuss and confirm the required results, benefits for the organisation with all involved parties. Consequently, this is a critical discussion. Because the organization often wants toput the sole responsibility of solving business problems on training, but these issues cannot be solved with training alone.
What will your next training focus? Soft skills development? Improving collaboration between departments? Build a high performance team? If you have queations , need support , do not hesitate to ask. David Gousset.