Why bother with training evaluation- (1)

Why bother with training evaluation?

Why should we bother to evaluate our training? Well it seems to me that we would effectively be blindfolding ourselves by not doing so. When I’m asked why we should evaluate training I respond with my 3 principle reasons for training evaluation:

  • It will help you improve training for future participants.
  • It will help you confirm that you’re getting your training right.
  • It will help you prove that the training is adding value.

Reason 1 – Training evaluation enables you to identify ways in which you can improve your training.

Gathering feedback and data on what participants thought of the training, how they performed in the assessments that were part of the training and how they were subsequently able to transfer that training into the workplace will enable you to identify ways in which improvements can be made.

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We will all have a drive to continuously improve the way we do our business. This applies to training as much as any other area and trainers can contribute towards the bottom line by developing the training we deliver. Conducting effective training evaluation enables us to gather data upon which we can base our decisions for change – ensuring that the way we develop training enhances its value.

Reason 2 – Training evaluation enables you to determine that your training is aligned with business objectives.

Improving the training that we deliver is one thing, but are we 100% sure that we’re delivering the right training? Evaluating the training that our personnel receive enables us to check that we are effectively equipping them with the right skills and knowledge to carry out their respective roles.

Continuing to train people on processes/systems that are now not used by the business (and I have seen this in big organisations) is simply a waste of time. Letting people leave training with gaps in their skills and knowledge can at best limit productivity; at worst it can be dangerous.

In order to ensure that your training remains aligned with your business objectives you’ll need to measure its output in some way. There are a range of training evaluation techniques that enable you to achieve this.

Reason 3 – Training evaluation enables you to demonstrate the value that training is adding.

In 2008 the UK collectively spent £38.6 billion on training. I’m not sure exactly what has happened to that spend over these last few years but the fact is companies spend a huge amount of money on training.

You might intuitively know that you are getting your training right but can you prove it? In increasingly tougher financial times company leaders will want to ensure that all areas of the business are offering value for money. They’ll probably base budget allocation decisions on the information they are presented with.

Do you have management data that you can use to convince others within the company that the training department offers value?

Providing a strong body of evidence in the form of training evaluation results can help prevent short-term thinking when budget cuts are required – significantly reducing training budgets has the potential for negative impacts on the company further down stream. Of course, the impact of budget cuts may affect more than just the company; reductions in budgets often mean a reduction in personnel. If, in a reduced budget environment, the training department is now conducting less training, presumably it needs fewer people?!

Those are my reasons why – what about why not?

Even if you agree with all the reasons why you should be evaluating training you might find that you are still prevented from doing so. Does anything in this post ring true for you – 5 common obstacles to conducting training evaluation.

It is undeniable that training evaluation needs resources to be conducted effectively. You should be intelligently focusing where you commit your resources and as such you may conclude that there are valid reasons why you will not evaluate certain elements of training. This post may help with deciding were to allocate your resources – how to prioritise training for evaluation.

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Richard Eason

Richard Eason

After gaining a business degree Richard Eason joined the RAF as a Training & Development Officer in 1998. Since then he has held many different roles within both training and operational environments, including specific work delivering training evaluation projects across the RAF.

This article is by Richard Eason from evaluationfocus.com.