Explore the reasons you want to measure learning effectiveness, whether its to improve or modify a program, continue or discontinue training, or demonstrate the value of training. Determine some of the consequences of not evaluating learning programs.
- Many people don't bother to evaluate their training programs. Or if they do measure something, it's just a short survey given to participants at the end of a class. This could be a big mistake. In this video, I'm going to take a few moments to explain why. A trainer I know once facilitated a week-long leadership training program for his company. The company spent thousands of dollars per person to fly people in from all over the world for this class. Participants loved it. Some people even called it life changing.
The scores on those surveys given at the end of the class were quite good. One day the company went through a cost-cutting initiative. The leadership training program was one of the first things to be eliminated. How could a program that was so loved be so quickly eliminated when times got tough? The answer was there was no proof that the leadership program actually developed leaders. The trainer had never measured the impact this class had on the business. So there was no hard data to justify the enormous expense.
That's why measuring learning is essential. There are many situations where it's helpful to evaluate a training program. You might want to know if your training program is actually working. If you trained employees to use a new computer system, you'd want to know if people could actually use the system after completing the training. You can also use training evaluation to develop your credibility. Training often gets blamed when employees aren't performing but it doesn't have to be this way. In one company, new hires struggled to do their jobs after completing new hire training.
A solid evaluation program proved that the new hire training wasn't to blame. The real issue was that managers didn't spend enough time supervising their new employees once the formal training program had ended. Measuring learning can also help you find ways to improve your programs. One company I worked with tripled sales for a new program thanks to insights gained by evaluating their sales training class. You can measure learning to ensure you meet your sponsors' expectations.
Sponsors are the people who pay for the training, so you want to keep them happy. For instance, an evaluation report that links customer service training to improved customer service survey scores might give that program sponsor assurance that the program is a good investment. Finally, you can use measurement and evaluation to get funding for those vital training programs. Let's go back to the leadership development trainer I told you about earlier. How could he have prevented the week-long program from getting cut even when budgets were being tightened? I can think of a few ways.
He could have shown how the leadership program resulted in more internal promotions for leadership positions. Hiring from within is usually cheaper than hiring an outside candidate, so he could show how the leadership program was saving the company money, and he could capture data that showed program graduates improved business results in the areas they managed. Any of these things could have made a strong case for keeping the program rather than eliminating it. So before we go on, I have a challenge for you.
Think about what benefits you can gain from measuring your learning programs. I've created a Measurement Benefits Worksheet that you can download and use to complete this activity.
Check the exercise files for sample evaluation plans, reports, checklists, and worksheets that you can use to evaluate your own employee development program.
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- Common learning assessment models: Kirkpatrick, Phillips, Brinkerhoff, and alternatives
- Identifying expectations
- Collecting data
- Analyzing data
- Making recommendations