Kruthi signed up for a training program at her IT firm. An external trainer was coming to teach how to use a new project management framework that the organization was going to roll out. The training took place over two days, and Kruthi enjoyed it. The trainer was excellent and she was eager to put her knowledge to test.
The training started out okay but within the next few months, she was struggling to use the tool again. She’d forgotten much of what the trainer had taught her. Kruthi went back to her notes, but it was of no use. She spent significantly more time doing her own reading and sitting with her manager before she could make the most of the new method.
Let’s face it, training programs at work aren’t always fruitful. Information-based training can be forgotten, particularly when it is poorly implemented. Behavior change is hard to effect, and many training sessions introduce concepts but don’t equip you with the knowledge to implement those learnings.
In Kruthi’s case, the organization and trainer appear to have tried their best. So where did it go wrong?
Designing Better Training Sessions
If training material isn’t clear in its intent from the outset, it won’t be as effective as it’s supposed to be. When an organization plans training sessions, it must be clear about what it wants to achieve. Who is the training aimed at? What are the desired learning outcomes? How will these outcomes be measured? How will it benefit the organization?
Say an organization puts together a session for its employees after they found several to be struggling with some technical skills. Here are a few steps it can take before conducting a training program so the team gets the most out of it.
Before you plan your training program for employees, benchmarking their existing skills is an invaluable exercise. This could be a test, a performance evaluation or an interview. Once you’ve conducted this skills benchmarking, you will have specified the knowledge gaps that need to be filled.
If the training is serving another purpose—if a new technology is being introduced, for instance—consider conducting an evaluation before you even begin planning. This will provide a basis to understand if the training is effective later on. You could roll out the technology with a pilot group, then evaluate them against a control group before moving onto a larger, organization-wide training.
Planning Your Training
Once you're sure training will benefit everyone, it’s time to identify a trainer. It could be an internal resource or an external expert. You need to brief the trainer properly. This is when the benchmarking pays off. Since you know what the employees need to learn, they can design the training around this. The desired learning outcomes need to be established.
Choosing A Training Evaluation Model
To understand if your training program is effective, you must have an evaluation system in place. What did the employees learn? How long was it retained? This is where the Kirkpatrick evaluation model comes into the picture.
What Is The Kirkpatrick Model?
The Kirkpatrick training evaluation model is a tool to evaluate the efficacy of training programs. Developed in the 1950s by Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick, an American professor, the model has been in use ever since. They have adapted it over the years to be more suitable for the modern workplace.
Four Stages Of The Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model
The Kirkpatrick training model is divided into four components, also known as levels. Let’s look at these.
Level One: Reaction
According to the Kirkpatrick evaluation model, it’s important to establish the initial reaction of a participant to a training program, or course. Was the training informative? Was it useful? Was the trainer engaging? Was the information presented in an easy-to-understand manner? They can record all this with a survey form after the training is over. No one wants a boring trainer that can’t hold participant attention.
Level Two: Learning
This is when you can assess what employees have learned. If the trainees’ skills have been benchmarked and the desired learning outcomes have been mapped, this will be your guide. The employees can be tested and their skills measured against the pre-training results. If you haven’t done the benchmarking, measure the skills of the training cohort against those of employees who haven’t gone through the training yet.
Level Three: Behavior
Around three to six months after training, it’s time to test if it has resulted in the behavior change that was hoped for. Examples of the Kirkpatrick model evaluation tools include observation, online evaluation, peer feedback and supervisor feedback. The training has been successful only if the theoretical knowledge of the program has successfully translated to practice in the workplace.
Level Four: Results
The most important yet hardest level, it’s difficult to measure this accurately. This is where you, as an organization, evaluate whether the training has achieved the desired outcomes. Has it impacted the organization's bottom line or the quality of the output? If the organization holds training on safety, the incidence of accidents over time on the factory floor is a measurable indicator. If the training is skills-based, the organization can assess the quality of the work and it can compare the output before and after. For training on soft skills, feedback from customers and team members can be a valuable measure.
How The Kirkpatrick Model Has Changed
The Kirkpatrick model was created in a different era of work and training. Employee demands and expectations have changed significantly and so have the ways of training them. This is why the creator of the Kirkpatrick model, Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick, updated it to be more reflective of the needs of the modern world. Here are some modifications they made:
Special focus on if the training was engaging and relevant.
Did employees get the confidence to use skills learned in the training and are they committed to its implementation?
Are processes and systems in place that allow participants to implement their knowledge independently and smoothly on a day-to-day basis?
Look for leading indicators, or signs the participants have learned what it takes to achieve improved performance over time. Employee retention or customer satisfaction are examples of these.
How To Implement The Kirkpatrick Model
To make the best use of the Kirkpatrick model, experts recommended that you start at Level Four.
By focusing on what outcomes the organization wants, the trainer can organize the training module with increased effectiveness. Designing it backward will save time in trying to figure out the desired learning outcomes and the steps needed to evaluate participants.
For instance, a school wants to train its teachers in how to best implement online learning. Feedback from parents has been poor over the past semester as the pandemic drags on. The school has two objectives: better extracurricular participation for elementary school students and better exam results for middle school students.
With these outcomes in mind, they set the student output and marks as the indicators for the Level Four evaluation. The contents of the training can be purpose-built to improve these.
Then, for the Level One evaluation, the teachers can give their feedback on the trainers by using a survey. At Level Two, a test can determine if the teachers have retained the new techniques and practices they had learned. For the third level of evaluation, they gather student feedback and review in-progress projects and class tests. By keeping the school’s objectives in mind, the Kirkpatrick training evaluation model can be easy to implement.
Don’t Have The Expertise to Design A Training Session?
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It’s difficult to design a training session that delivers true behavior change. That’s why an online course that expert faculty has carefully put together to achieve results can be so effective. Find out more about the course today.
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