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

Sell Your Results Reviews Up Front

the time to agree on the review is before the training starts

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

"Evaluation" comes with "training" in just about every setting. Whether you represent the company's own training department, or you are a consultant who delivers training to clients, your events probably end with completion of a questionnaire or survey of some sort.

Now, the question of whether those evaluations reflect "Did you have a nice day?" more than "Did you learn to do your job better?" can be discussed some other time. One thing that you'll probably accept is that since training usually is intended to influence behavior, to enhance performance, it takes time to see if it produces results.

That means that it makes a lot of sense to do some kind of review of the results, whether that's another questionnaire for participants, or interviews with their supervisors, or, for more quantifiable areas like reducing materials waste or eliminating serious accidents on the job, more objectively tallied numbers. Looking at the impact of training weeks, months, or years after the event produces highly informative data about the value of that training. And if you develop training that company staff deliver within their own departments (rather than professional trainers), an "audit" after several training cycles will help correct "drift" and shortcuts in what is actually being delivered.

But it is a hard sell. Many managers hate to give up their time and their staff's time to training in the first place. Coming around after months or a year have passed and asking them to give some more time to training that is, in their minds, already done is unlikely to get you a warm welcome.

It is an easier sell, and a more logical one, up front. When you schedule the training, schedule the longer term follow up. Specify the type of later evaluation in the original training proposal. Get the commitment of management to get the staff time needed to do that evaluation.

All of this has more appeal to your clients while you are talking about the business objectives the training is supposed to achieve. Supervisors can see the sense of finding out whether what you deliver really works, of collecting the most useful possible data that could lead to better results for the organization over the long haul.

But you'll have to be specific. Asking for permission to come back and do some kind of evaluation, without knowing what that is or how much staff time it will take, is just setting yourself up to really annoy people and erode management support for your training efforts. Get a commitment to a detailed plan, not to a 'nice idea."

And if costs beyond employee time are involved, get that (or at least part of it) up front, too, whenever possible. Explain that investment in a given "training initiative" means investment in the entire lifespan of the training, a lifespan that extends through the final review or audit. If you're working as an external consultant, you can offer to "bundle" a results review into the project at a lower price than it would cost them if they wait to book it separately.

Whatever your situation, take a longer term view of what "training delivery" includes, and give your internal or external clients an opportunity to buy into that view early in the process. The time to help them see the value of later follow-up is during the original discussions about the value of the training in the first place.

© 2011 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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