Measuring Training Results
Does management bemoan the fact that they can't effectively measure training? Have you heard the claim that there is just no way of knowing whether a specific training initiative was successful or not? Sometimes managers will use the assumption that training cannot be measured
- as a reason to eliminate or reduce training programs, or
- to substitute something else for training that they feel is more easily measured, or
- as an excuse to not implement metrics that would measure training.
It is completely legitimate to want to measure training effectiveness, but we need to question the assumption that it cannot be measured. A big part of the problem may rest on the shoulders of the training department itself. If measurement of training effectiveness is a responsibility of the training department, then they should a.) have the necessary tools to assess training endeavors, and b.) be held accountable for measuring results.
There are numerous guidelines for tracking training results. Most training departments are familiar with Kirkpatrick's widely used Four Levels of Training Evaluation.
Kirkpatrick's four levels escalate from merely measuring participants' reaction to training (Level 1) to quantifying the final results from training (Level 4). Kirkpatrick's landmark book “Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels” is a foundational work in training metrics. Others have modified and built on his guidelines. Jack Phillips and Ron Drew Stones' book “How to Measure Training Results” proposes six key indicators, including an ROI measure and even tracking of intangible training benefits.
Rather than complain that training can't be measured, training departments and managers need to focus time and resources on developing solid metrics of training effectiveness. We'll take a look at some of these opportunities in upcoming blogs.
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