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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

The I of the Beholder

the right perspective for viewing training success

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

At the conclusion of a training event for some segment of your company's employees, when you look in the mirror afterwards and ask, "Have I been successful?", how do you determine the answer. (Similarly, when you review your training department's success, how do you decide, "We have succeeded"?)

To put it differently, after their employees have completed a training unit, their supervisors and managers look at them and ask, "How has that training contributed to my department's success?" And they have their own ways of measuring that success.

The obvious question is how well those two sets of measures of success overlap. Obvious, but not asked as often as it should be.

Training professionals often get locked into fairly generic habits of "measuring success". After all, let's admit that it is still the case that the "evaluation" that indicates a successful seminar or workshop is basically a questionnaire that asks how they enjoyed the event. It is often more like a popularity rating than a measure of change. And it occurs immediately at the conclusion of the event, without any indication of how the training transferred to a change in behavior and enhanced performance on the job.

Another criterion for success is "achieving learning objectives" by the end of the training. The problem with that is that the learning objectives are often in trainer-speak that resonates very little with the managers and supervisors of the participants. The participants may well have "achieved greater awareness of ..." and "acquired understanding of the process" and even know particular facts, rules, or other chunks of useful knowledge.

But the people who supervise those participants are looking for fewer product returns, or fewer accidents, or fewer ethical incidents. They are looking for faster processing time, or lower costs, or less materials waste.

Do you see any of those things when you look in the mirror and ponder your success as a trainer?

To be sure, looking at it through the eye of the supervisor is less convenient. It means that the best time to measure the success of the training in some time after the event, not immediately at its conclusion. It means having different criteria for different internal clients, whereas your convenient learning objectives for different courses are often just tweaks from a boilerplate.

When you look in the mirror to assess yourself after a training event, you should see a reflection of the client looking back at you. Naturally, after different training events on different topics for different audiences, that reflection will be different, rather than the same image -- yourself -- every time.

If you do not know how your internal clients evaluate your training success, have that conversation. It may be a bit uncomfortable, and it may lead to some changes in what you offer.

But the ultimate outcome of greater success for your clients, and for your company, is incredibly rewarding, and well worth the extra effort.

© 2013 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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