3 tips to ensure you get your money’s worth out of training…

This topic, much like the Moon Pie Crunch with peanut butter that I’m savoring, called my name. I’ve been too busy presenting (and preparing to present) to blog and so, from a highly selfish perspective, my question is: What happens after the training? Have you paid me well and have I wasted your money and time? But first…

A great behavioral change evaluation tool created by W Leslie Rae MPhil, FITOL, Chartered FCIPD and Alan Chapman captures a participant’s view of how they were prior to training as well as their view of themselves post-training. This evaluation tool not only asks the participant to judge herself at the outset of training and then again at the end, she also gets to decide, based on her new knowledge, if she judged herself at the outset too harshly or too elegantly. She can change her number, up or down, or leave it the same. Then, she can indicate where her view of her skills are after the training. Theoretically, numbers could look like this (on a scale of 10): 8 2 3 or 3 1 10. The difference between the second number (the learner, aware of what he didn’t know at the outset) and the last number (aware of many possible training solutions) indicates true learning. This is light years away from the old school Kirkpatrick method of evaluation (that most trainers still use today, though it was first published in 1959 – OMG!) and the closest I’ve seen that could equate an anecdotal training measurement of a soft skill to an anticipated ROI.

The reason for that long explanation of training evaluations is this: I’ve presented at least a dozen and half training programs (varying in length from 60 minutes to 2 full days) since my last post and in every case attendees have indicated huge amounts of learning. So what? Clients have been thrilled. But has anything changed?

I may be shooting myself in the foot as I write this but training, as we all know, is not an event but a process. Regardless of how powerful and meaningful the actual training is, no matter how interactive, practical and authentic the training may be, if nothing changes, it was just a day out of work for attendees. Without follow-up and an expectation of accountability, too many energized attendees, become disillusioned (particularly if it’s a training initiative and not enthusiastically supported by upper management and aligned with corporate goals) and simply go back to their old way of responding to the world.

Here are 3 ideas to ensure your team stays motivated and profits from training:
• Schedule follow-up. You can lead the effort, or a participant from within the group can champion it, or the trainer can facilitate the follow-up, but do it! Schedule it just as you did the initial training. Ask attendees to provide at least 3 examples of how they’ve used/applied the training, what their results have been, and what questions they have. My favorite option is being given approval to conduct follow-up webinars with the first one at 3 – 4 weeks after the initial training. I give the participants a scenario they have to respond to applying the skills learned. Here is my most important tip, though: Anyone who doesn’t submit his/her response, isn’t allowed to attend the webinar. No excuses (short of their death or an immediate member of their family).

•Schedule internal weekly touch-ups. Pick, at random, one member of the team to provide 3 examples of how they’ve used the skills and the success they’ve had using them. Encourage them to get creative to show their results. Video or photograph what they say and archive it for new hires. Let them pick a colleague (or manager or executive) to report out at the next meeting. Keep it up until you’re confident the team is comfortable using the new skills (and then spot check).

•Schedule a conference call with your management team and/or customers and clients. Ask: What differences are you seeing, sensing, hearing when you communicate with our team? Until they can put their finger on what changes have occurred, continue meeting with them – and your team.

What other ideas do you have to ensure training takes hold? What have you done successfully to get your money’s worth? Please share your ideas here.

3 replies
  1. Caroline Cooper
    Caroline Cooper says:

    Useful advice Susan; we see so much training effort go to waste through lack of follow up. I would add giving line managers responsibility – ask them what they want the training to achieve and what steps they have already taken to help address the gap. I’d also follow up with them to ask what changes they have seen as a result of the training (sadly some will not even have throught to check, assuming that the ‘course’ had done everything required….)
    C

    Reply
  2. Jeff Hurt
    Jeff Hurt says:

    Wow, this post has a lot of great ideas. I especially like the first evaluation you shared: Behavioral Change Evaluation Tool. I had not seen that before and that’s a keeper.

    Thanks for writing in between your speaking engagements!

    Reply
  3. speakersue
    speakersue says:

    I am honored, honored, honored!!! Thanks you and so happy the post offers substance you can use.

    It’s been a crazy, blessed speaking schedule and I’m so grateful! (Your adult learning concepts are wonderful, Jeff.) I definitely need to find more time to blog though.

    Thanks again and hopeful our paths cross soon.
    Sue

    Reply

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