A New Way To Evaluate Training’s Effectiveness

By | June 2, 2011

Why has Training gained the unfortunate reputation for being so notoriously difficult to evaluate, especially when it comes to Return on Investment arguments? So difficult, that when times are hard (like now) L&D budgets are the first to be cut, making the organisation’s commitment to training look very weak indeed. The root of this problem is often in the poorly made business case for training expenditure.

In modern, fast-moving  organisations there are so many disparate factors affecting people development that to separate out one particular training intervention and find a straight-forward causal link to improved performance can be seemingly impossible. For example; what if the individual’s manager doesn’t have time/ability/desire to support their person before and after the training  to ensure the learning is embedded back in the workplace so the full benefits are realised? Or, the individual’s work environment doesn’t have a culture that is receptive to new ways of working and is stuck in the familiar rut of low performance expectations?

There have been numerous attempts, some more successful than others, to tackle this issue, but none have really delivered a pragmatic yet powerful tool for training evaluation. Until now.

STEvE (Structured Training Evaluation Exemplar) demonstrates the crucial importance of aligning the four underlying business perspectives of any training intervention,  placing the ‘trainee’ or learner at the heart of the developement process.

It’s  four focal points are;

Organisational Focus – orienting the training to the  strategic objectives, including taking reference from the organisations’  Purpose Framework; its Vision, Values and Goals

Individual Focus – designing the training  to meet the specific requirements/learning style of the individual, closing the gap between the current and desired levels of performance, activities, skills, knowledge and behaviour.

Delivery Focus – Connecting  the training to the required customer outcome (external or internal).

Compliance Focus – Whilst ensuring the training, and so the organisation, remains safe, secure and ethical in all its practices.

STEvE also works in delivering two critical benefits:

1) It ensures the alignment of the potentially competing axes; Organisation v Individual and Delivery v Compliance – this removes political friction and organisational drag , two factors that undermine a large amount of training expenditure.

2) It also  ensures there are meaningful, structured engagement loops set up between the four perspectives. These will, by necessity, not be about the same thing – for example the engagement loop between the ‘line manager’ and the ‘senior manager’ will be concerned with different training evaluation feedback requirements than with the engagement loop between the ‘trainer’ and ‘HR / L&D’ function.

STEvE also states that for maximum training effectiveness to be realised  the training process and outcome delivery should be owned not by HR, L&D or the trainer, but jointly  between the trainee and their line-manager.

In our early testing of STEvE we have found it to be a really effective tool in creating cost justified training development interventions that make a really significant organisational impact.

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