Why waste effort trying to justify unexceptional results of past training, when your focus should be on improving the value of future training? In this article, Advantage WaySM leaders Mooney and Brinkerhoff explain that the real purpose of learning evaluation should be to:
- Uncover the factors that kept training from being successful
- Teach key stakeholders what needs to be done to create consistently better learning outcomes for increasingly larger numbers of trainees
Do this right and your learning return on investment will improve markedly. It all begins with asking the right questions.
Taking a Strategic Approach to Evaluation
By Timothy P. Mooney and Robert O. Brinkerhoff, Ed.D.
A few years ago I witnessed a situation that many training professionals probably have experienced. A company was trying to improve sales results. They put the entire sales force from five different U.S. regions through the same training. One region used the skills, tools, and process from the training to help make several large sales (one of which was landing a new multi-million-dollar account). The sales reps and sales managers from this region stated emphatically without qualifiers that they would not have made those significant sales without the new training.
The sales reps from the other regions never really capitalized on the training. They used a few concepts and tools from the process, but never saw any significant sales come from the training and eventually stopped using the tools and concepts altogether.
It is interesting to note that the training provided to all these sales regions was identical; delivered by the same facilitator, using the same design and materials. The sales reps from the various regions were equally as experienced and successful—and were literally sitting side-by-side in the same classes. Yet, the sales reps from one region were able to turn the training into concrete business results, while for most of the participants the training never led to any worthwhile outcomes.
After the initial workshops with this training, the organization made the decision to stop providing the training, because it wasn’t seeing enough tangible evidence across all the regions that the investment was paying off or that the training was being used.
This company made two fatal errors—errors we see repeated frequently by many other organizations.