How to select and evaluate the effectiveness of training and development activities for technical employees to keep them sharp, current, and contributing.
- [Instructor] Now that we've discussed three elements of the human resources in the technical department, I want to give some time to a technical resource in the human resources department, training and development. Everyone accepts that technology is an ever-changing field, so the need to develop our technical teams is a given because IT is a strategic part of our company's path, the right training is critical. Training and development are a normal part of HR, so, with a little luck, your company already has this well in hand, and I'd like to review some of the criteria that you should be using to evaluate the effectiveness of your training resources.
And, this isn't my list. My talking points come from author Donald Kirkpatrick, cited in pretty much every HR book I've read, and the four levels of evaluation are reaction, learning, behavior, and results. So, let's start with reaction. First off, do your technical employees enjoy their training? Is the training prepared in a way that speaks to their learning styles and the aptitudes that may be unique in your IT department? And, also, is it engaging? I've worked in higher education, which is one field among many where professional development is a requirement for continued employment.
I've unfortunately seen instances where training was selected simply to satisfy the requirement and not to develop the employee. When that happens, there's minimal effect on performance. Which brings us to the second level of evaluation, learning. Do the training activities of your IT department actually increase their knowledge and skills? Most presentations of Kirkpatrick's model suggest that pretests and posttests measure learning.
That's a very academic approach. I propose that a training activity is not completed until the participants, individually or in groups, propose a way to improve existing processes based on what they've learned. That leads us to the third level, which is behavior. The true measure of learning is how it changes an employee's performance on the job. Observing an employee's performance after a training activity and comparing it to known patterns from before can show how the training changed their behavior on the job.
An important part of measuring that improvement is identifying specifically what improved and what it was about the training that drove the upgrade. Identify the catalyst for positive change so that you can do it again. If an employee is faster at their job for just a few days, then their improvement could come from just being refreshed by taking a break and not by the training itself. On the other side, an employee that begins teaching co-workers their newfound skills may have been enhanced as much by the presentation style as the content.
The final element of Kirkpatrick's model is results. While performance measures what the training did for the employee, results measures what the training did to improve the company. Did productivity improve? Was a more effective business process generated as a result? Is the tech support team happier? Most people will include return on investment in this category and I fully agree. These commonly accepted criteria can be used to assess the value of any training program or individual activity to help determine what types of training should be part of your technical inventory.
Let's consider a couple of examples. Do you send your IT staff to tech conferences? How do they stack up? Students very engaged, maybe a modest amount of learning and only short-term behavior improvements? How does this actually benefit your company? You're watching this course, so you've been considering online training libraries. Does that subject matter keep people engaged? Do the assessments verify learning? Are the courses making the employees better at their jobs? Do the improvements offset the cost of the library? Using a matrix like this one can help you evaluate training activities to find the mix of training that adds up to the development that will mean the most to your team.
- Including IT in strategy
- What does IT bring to strategy?
- Communicating the big picture
- Selecting and evaluating the effectiveness of training and development activities
- Choosing the right hardware, platforms, and applications
- Who owns the devices?
- Site planning
- External and internal connectivity