We know training is important to both organizations and employees, yet it is often seen by workers and supervisors as extra work of no real value. It interrupts the workflow. It is the immediate tangible evaluations are the most important.
The effectiveness of training should matter. That’s what we tell ourselves and, yet, we hand out trainer and training evaluations before that training is even over, asking participants how valuable that training was. A bit odd, don’t you think? What we think after a training session or class is often inconclusive and doesn’t always matter. I know that sounds like a fairly ridiculous statement, but please hear me out because it should matter.
Evaluations tell us the impact training has on production or a variety of more mundane but equally important issues that must be repeated per State or Federal law. Why? Trainers in a rush to get the job done, employers aching for results push for participant validation.
Trainers are most concerned about the perceived impact. They believe the real impact will come later. Maybe. Most often, after a training session, participants are asked to “rate” the training.
So, how does someone rate training? Usually by answering questions about how they felt the training was appropriate and/or a useful addition to their work proficiency. Of course, this begs the age-old question: if participants need to be trained, how do they know what is good for them?
Rating trainers is another issue. With each, personality, speaking and presenting ability, and likeability make a difference. Someone can appear too friendly, too relaxed, stiff, snooty, bitchy or arrogant, etc.
True, there are always a few trainers (and teachers) who know nothing at the moment, according to some respondents. While the respondents are being dramatic, I’m being facetious, not sarcastic. We cover a range of talents. It’s nice to think everyone is Grade A.
Maybe the trainers and teachers did know something once and lost it.
I had a teacher, a professor emeritus, a pioneer in his field who had gained worldwide recognition and prominence. He had Alzheimer’s by the time I attended his class; the lectures were odd sometimes, but beneath it all whatever the man said proved his undeniable genius and inspired the class.
Similarly, retired CEOs who take to the road lose their edge at some point. It happens. Listen closely. His or her ramblings may still contain some wisdom. Also, it happens that a trainer may not have given the training assignment sufficient research, analyzed his or her audience well; however deep down they are not ignorant–just mistaken and in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Allotting five minutes to complete the evaluation doesn’t allow enough time for critical thought. Since they received the evaluation request (as it usually happens) before the training is even over, the training session’s value has been minimized by the immediate and unnecessary rush to judgment.
Most of us believe that training should reflect positively on one’s career. Although there are companies that view training as adding to worker credibility or a stepping stone in the company, many still, however, do not. For the companies and organizations that truly value training a worker receives, bravo!
Still most of the time the process of evaluating training is guesswork. And, that evaluation is always tainted by personal factors. Like mediocre movie or plays, the reviews may be mixed. Positives and negatives cancelling each other’s.
What if it is a training product? I hate watching videos, taking online quizzes, etc. For me, that kind of training (the kind necessary by law) is a box-filler. The training itself is no joke, but the form diminishes its value. In this case, the training isn’t about delivery skills; it’s about the method.
Is the company trying immediately to see if the training is effective? We all know employees love to train. They take time out of their already busy day, the boss is miffed because work isn’t getting done; the “why we train” is seldom mentioned and, if it is, employees are suspicious of the organization’s motives regardless. I doubt most responses are accurate or totally honest.
Trainees will say anything to get out of the room. If they are truly pissed off, they are likely to give the training or trainer a negative review based on personal prejudice. In order to believe training is or education is beneficial the attitude has to cross personal lines.
Perhaps the majority (the bell-curve part) of trainees feel the training is worthwhile. It may even be documented that the training is necessary or useful, but employees don’t have to like it. Besides, what is the documentation based on? Others may feel the training is worthless and a waste of time if it is not immediately applicable to what they are doing at that very minute in their work tasks. Some training is meant for long-term effects and there is no way to measure it in the short term. Still we fill out the forms.
The reality it seems is that the training, while important, is not imminently as important as the first tangible product. The evaluation.
By the way, this is not all I do. I believe in connections. Information and communication is applicable in training and development as well as education. If you are interested in my approach here or in other offerings on the site, you might also be interested in my book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development. “Cave” and “Man” are separate on purpose. The “cave” is simply where we train. I promise there will be a II and III based on my articles here. If you like what you see here, I have a blog site, Shaw’s Reality, where I look at the world’s reality from a variety of perspectives. I have also published a young adult science fiction dystopian novel, In Makr’s Shadow.
By all means though, check out The Free Management Library’s complete training section.