Years ago, I attended a training session where the instructor said that he knew participants we’re “getting it” because they started asking questions. It made sense to me. Whether the questions happen during the actual training or after the session, questions can be an informal gauge of training interest.
Of course, that’s not the only training metric or measurement. I recently had an opportunity to attend the People Matters learning and development conference in India, where measuring training effectiveness was a topic of discussion. One of the speakers, Foo Chek Wee, human resources director at ZALORA Group based in Singapore, made the comment that organizations needed to stop measuring training by hours and start measuring by results.
You’ve probably seen the measuring training by hours approach at some point. Training must start at 8:30a and end at 4:30p. If you’re done at 4:00p, well…the facilitator needs to keep talking until 4:30p. Because training is measured by hours. Participants aren’t held accountable for the content. They’re held accountable for the number of hours they spent in training.
Okay, I get it. I’ve attended plenty of training programs where participants want to beat rush hour traffic home and figure if we skip all the breaks and take 15 minutes for lunch, then we can get out early. Trainers need to design content so participants can comfortably take breaks and not be worried about being stuck in traffic. It is possible to do both.
It’s also possible to comfortably deliver training, not compromise the content, and finish a few minutes early. You know how that happens? Questions. When participants are engaged with the content and they are asking questions, the time just seems to go faster. And you finish earlier. And participants understand the content.
Which is what you’re striving for all along – participants who retain the material.
Speaking of retaining material, if you’re trying to measure training effectiveness and outcomes, one of the most widely known models is Kirkpatrick’s Levels of Training Evaluation. In a nutshell, the model outlines four levels of training evaluation:
Level 1 (Reaction) – the degree to which participants enjoyed the training.
Level 2 (Learning) – the extent participants acquired the knowledge or skills conveyed in training.
Level 3 (Behavior) – this measures the degree participants apply what they learned in training.
Level 4 (Results) – this measures the outcomes that occur because of the training.
There is a relationship between the levels. As the level of difficulty to calculate the measurement increases, the value of the measurement increases. Some might infer that, because a Level 1 measurement is the easiest to calculate, it is the least valuable (of the four.) However, we all know that Level 1 evaluations do provide value, if constructed properly. On the other hand, a Level 4 evaluation is the most valuable, but it’s also very difficult to calculate. And some organizations might not have the resources to do so.
I’m sure some might disagree with me but, the important thing isn’t to always measure training effectiveness at a Level 4. The important thing is to measure training. And not to measure it by hours. Even if your only measurement is a Level 1, you have a sense of how participants enjoyed the session. Simply understanding that someone spent a full-day in training doesn’t tell you how they viewed the program.
Organizations make huge investments into employee training. It’s important to provide some measurements regarding the success of the program. And there are plenty of measurements that are more effective than hours.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while attending the Great Place to Work Conference in Austin, TX1