There's one question I always ask project sponsors who request training. It's a bit of a show stopper because 90 percent of the time my client hasn't thought of the answer.
How will we evaluate the success of this program?
A good answer can drive results. For instance, let's say you want to train employees to better handle customer complaints.
There are a whole host of questions you would need to ask before doing the training if you wanted to evaluate it:
What are customers complaining about?
What is a successful complaint resolution?
What are employees doing now?
What do we want employees to be doing instead?
What other factors besides training might influence complaint handling?
These questions can move you from generic training to a targeted intervention that actually reduces complaints and keeps customers happy.
Getting better results is just one reason why you should evaluate your training program. Here are five more.
Why You Should Evaluate Training
Reason #1: Learn whether it works. Training is not always effective. One company spent tens of thousands of dollars on leadership training. Participants gave the course high ratings on post-training surveys and some even described it as "life changing." Yet a closer analysis revealed participants were not actually becoming better leaders as a result of the training. Funding for the program was eventually cut because there were no results to justify the cost.
Reason #2: Develop credibility. Customer service representatives were skeptical about a procedure they were being trained to use. They weren't convinced it would work until the trainer shared evaluation data from a pilot class that showed their colleagues had dramatically improved results using the new procedure. This gave the training greater credibility and the participants agreed to try using the new process.
Reason #3: Improve your programs. A client recently hired me to develop a customized customer service training program. We did a pilot session and it received excellent reviews, but our evaluation also identified a number of places where the program could be improved. The result was a much better program once it was introduced to all of my client's employees.
Reason #4: Meet sponsor expectations. The CEO of a small company asked me to conduct training to help customer service reps convert more inquiries into sales. The current conversion rate was 33 percent and the CEO felt employees could achieve 35 percent after the training. A post-training evaluation revealed the conversion rate rose to 45 percent, which made the CEO extremely happy!
Reason #5 Get more funding. A client hired me to conduct customer service training with her staff. They had received numerous complaints and she knew they needed to improve. We were able to demonstrate the training helped significantly reduce complaints and dramatically improve service levels, which allowed my client to get her boss to approve funding for additional training programs.
Here's a short video that explains more about the importance of evaluating training.