Evaluating Training is More Than Counting Bums in Seats

Evaluating training is rare in the corporate world.

Businesses often start and stop ~ if it happens at all ~ somewhere between staff attendance and the so-called ‘smile sheets‘ participants complete at the end of training.

Extensive research work has been done on evaluating training overall; however, the evaluation of workplace training is still a new field. Yet the need to prove the return on the investment in workplace training continues to be critical to business. (Richard Griffin 2011)

In Canada and beyond, managers often cite lack of time as the barrier to evaluating training. They stop at the smile sheets that ask participants if they enjoyed the training. (Brown, Martin McCracken 2009, Tozman 2012)

If their field isn’t training, managers may not even know that training can be measured ~ learner reaction to it, skills and knowledge gained, transfer of those skills and knowledge on the job, and training’s effect on the bottom line.

Kirkpatrick’s model shows you have to process the evaluation in order. If all your workplace does is ask staff to report on their reaction of the training and staff don’t use their skills on the job, you don’t know what happened. Did the staff gain skills and not use them? Was the training ineffective? You’re missing a piece of the puzzle and wasting resources.

Considering the thousands of dollars invested in consulting dollars and staff time spent in training, don’t you think businesses should be taking a closer look at their investment?

Please send this link to anyone you know who may be looking at asking a staff subject matter expert or hiring a consultant to prepare or facilitate training. Why isn’t evaluating training part of the learning system or training plan? You could be flushing your business’ hard earned cash the next time your staff steps into the classroom and signs up for online training.

21 Comments

  1. Carolyn Hughes on February 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    As always you are spot on with your advice Catherine. Why invest in so much on training and then not follow it up with evaluation?

  2. Susan Critelli (@momzilla54) on February 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    “Smile sheets” are useless. I don’t think a training evaluation can happen until AFTER you have had a chance to see if any of it has practical application in your job.

    • Catherine on February 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Susan,

      Smiles sheets may identify some basic feedback, but you’re right in that they are not most important. However, we must measure learning before transfer. Oter wise maybe they have the skills but the supervisor said not to use tem. That’s not the training’s fault. But if we didn’t measure after each stage, we might think it is.

  3. Aimee on February 11, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I agree. I have had to take so much useless training over the years. I would love for the powers that be to know I didn’t use it at all and invest in useful training.

  4. Alexandra McAllister on February 11, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I agree! I’ve invested, years ago, in training that I didn’t use at all….what I really needed was a proper evaluation and then the training. Thanks for such a valuable article, Catherine!

  5. Cathy Taughinbaugh on February 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Great advice here Catherine. Training can make such difference, but evaluation so that you know your dollars are being well spent is important.

  6. Spot on. Evaluating what your client needs first is the key. Information & training on what they don’t need is useless… Loved your post.

  7. elizabeth maness on February 11, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    This is a great post Catherine and yes.. what you learn from the class is perfect! I like to know what I’m teaching is doing the trick and always find out!

  8. Barbara Billig on February 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    What a great article to point out that meaningless meetings and training sessions are a waste of time and a company’s money. Good job!

  9. Meryl Hershey Beck on February 11, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Good points, Catherine! I plan on instituting a training course and you gave me items to include in the evaluation. Thanks! 🙂

  10. Moira Hutchison on February 11, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Excellent post Catherine! It is so true that evaluation and follow up is crucial to ensure that training $$$ is well spent as well as keeping the training relevant!

  11. Anita on February 11, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Important piece of the puzzle for sure. So much money and time would NOT be wasted for sure! I will be sharing 🙂

  12. Liz Bigger on February 11, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Absolutely! You must close the feedback loop on any training!!! Good post!!

  13. Sherie on February 12, 2013 at 2:56 am

    If they don’t take the time to evaluate the training (after and on the job), then how will they know if the training is working? I am shocked that so many companies do training and don’t evaluate. You’ve shed a lot of light on this subject.

  14. Lorrie on February 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Evaluation is such a necessary step in everything we do in life, but especially those activities that take resources and are designed to enhance our understanding and effectiveness. Very good post, thanks.

  15. MamaRed on February 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Excellent article Catherine … and feedback is essential to improving, although I found students could rarely tell me anything until later. The “Happy Sheets” seemed like such a waste of time until we could measure what they could do differently WITH the training.

  16. Sharon O'Day on February 13, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Anything that doesn’t have an evaluation element attached is at such great risk of becoming an endless expense with limited benefit to the company. Great recommendation!

  17. Carl Mason-Liebenberg on February 14, 2013 at 11:21 am

    What use is training if it is then not applied? Seesm that follow up evaluation would be a must!

  18. Lisa Birnesser on February 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    It only makes sense that an evaluation would be part of the training plan. It seems otherwise ineffective.Thanks for the great post, Catherine!

  19. Lisa Frederiksen - BreakingTheCycles.com on February 16, 2013 at 1:08 am

    You are absolutely right – it’s one thing to evaluate the training program, itself – it’s quite another to evaluate whether the information was actually incorporated into the work routine to produce results. Great post, Catherine!

  20. Helena Bowers on February 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Great post Catherine. I see what you are saying in my son’s company all the time. They pay for training, and for a day or two it all goes well, and then they are back to their old practices again and the new stuff is never used again.

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