Evaluating The Training
Once you have actually carried out the training, the final step is to evaluate it. Training without effective evaluation is worthless. Evaluation is necessary for two main reasons. The first of these is that evaluation will give you feedback on the effectiveness of your training.
Think back to the worst teacher that you ever had. They might have talked to class after class of children, five days a week for 30 years, never changing their style or material, ignoring their pupils' needs and judging their performance solely on exam results.
Now try to remember the best teacher you ever had. They probably listened to you when you said that you didn’t understand and adapted the lesson accordingly - this is the benefit of listening and responding positively to feedback. People whom you train may give you feedback consciously or unconsciously, but they will need to see responsiveness to the feedback they give. If ignored, they will turn away and your training will be ineffective.
The second reason for evaluation is that it will give you information about the way in which your team is going. Development is one of the ways in which you can gain information on the capacity of your human resources. When you evaluate you will probably need to consider two main issues:
- the effectiveness of the content of your development, ie what you are training; and,
- the process of your development, ie how you have delivered it.
Evaluating effectiveness of content
Tactical evaluation is an evaluation of the small steps that are seen in the behavioural objectives that you’ve set. In your 15-30 minutes’ training session you can expect to achieve up to four behavioural objectives. For example, if you were training an employee to answer the telephone, the behavioural objectives may be:
- to answer with the appropriate greeting;
- to question the caller for the necessary information;
- to direct the call as appropriate; and,
- to take and pass on comprehensive messages.
You can evaluate the effectiveness of training these objectives by actually seeing them carried out. This gives you evidence of the skill. You can also check on the learner’s knowledge by asking questions such as:
- 'What would you do when...?'
- 'When would you...?'
Unfortunately, this evaluation is subjective. It rests upon your own interpretation of adequate or good performance. This can vary from day to day, depending on any number of factors. It may be more helpful to set measurable standards of achievement for each behavioural objective. For example, the standards for the input and verification of data might be:
- to input data with 90% accuracy;
- to verify data entered by others with zero errors;
- to input a minimum of 30 sheets per hour; and
- to verify a minimum of 45 sheets per hour.
Once you’ve set standards for your behavioural objectives, you can measure the content effectiveness of your training much more easily. Bear in mind that this type of evaluation will be more accurate after a week or so of the trainee practising their new skill. You are unlikely to achieve immediate results, as people improve over time when learning a new task or skill.
Evaluating effectiveness of process
The other type of feedback available to the tactical trainer is feedback on process. Generally speaking, your training worked if you achieved the standards set for your behavioural objectives. You can enquire to see whether you can improve the process by either designing a learner feedback form or asking questions such as:
- were the objectives realistic? (Ask for specifics);
- did I cover everything that needed to be covered?;
- did the training help you learn? (Ask for specific suggestions for improvement); and,
- did I present the information clearly enough? (How could presentations be improved?)
Remember that, when you ask for feedback you should:
- make sure that the learner knows that you want them to be honest. Dishonest feedback is useless and damaging;
- accept feedback as feedback. Don’t defend your position or explain. Try to think 'why?';
- raise probing questions to clarify; and,
- not let the feedback giver get carried away.
Once you have evaluated the effectiveness of your development in terms of process and content, you will need to consider how to relate this to your overarching objectives. Overall, this can be seen as strategic evaluation.
In order to carry out a strategic evaluation, you need to go back to the key performance analysis. The second step in this process involves identifying the key areas that produce results for the organisation.
In the 'Why training and development?' section, performance of an employee is identified as being:
Obviously, 'input' and 'output' can be measured in a number of ways. Some common ways include:
In order to evaluate strategic training effectiveness, you need to relate employee performance through one of these measures (or any other measure which you want to apply) to training evaluation.