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Sinead Randig

Quality Insider

Why Your Training Is So Ineffective

Training shouldn’t be delivered in a linear format.

Published: Monday, May 17, 2010 - 07:30

W

e’ve all done it: You need to learn something so you sign up for training. You attend a class. You go back to work. Does anything from the training class stay with you a week later? How about a month or six months later? Usually you feel good after training. You remember some of the content. You have some new ideas. But as time passes, the experience fades and you are back where you started. Is this a good return on your time and investment?

Many times, training is perceived as a quick fix for a business need. But is anything really fixed or improved if training is not transformed into an outcome on the job?

For training to be effective, a completely different approach to design and delivery is necessary. It is the training design that guarantees the success of training intervention. Traditionally, corporate training places little focus or depth to the design process. Often training is based on a mass of subject matter content, handled in a linear format, with heavy emphasis on the charisma of the trainer. A great trainer doesn’t mean that the training outcome is effective.

Often there is an absence of pre- and post-training measurement. This is an important consideration to set benchmarks for performance improvement. Most classes and workshops end with a “course critique” (more colloquially known as a “smile sheet”). Such evaluations give little indication of the effectiveness of the program in terms of objectives met and performance standards.

At the end of training, there are should be four levels of measurement:

Level 1: Satisfaction—Did the participants enjoy the class and walk away with an increased confidence in the material?

Level 2: Knowledge—Did the participants learn the material and acquire a skill?

Level 3: Application—Can the participants apply their skills and develop an attitude to solve problems?

Level 4: Results—What is the return on investment in terms of human and financial returns?

 

To achieve positive answers to these questions, specific aspects must be included in the design phase of training. Nothing is left to chance. Many parallel processes must be woven together into the design so that training will be effective.

What are the performance objectives to achieve from the training? It is crucial to set these objectives at the beginning of the design process. Are there external industry standards to take into consideration? What are the company-specific internal standards? What “hard” skills (technical content) are to be addressed? What “soft” skills (behavioral) are important? What are the performance goals for participants?

Simultaneously, learning modalities, processing styles, and psychological objectives must be addressed. Do participants learn best by visual or auditory means, or by kinesthetics (doing)? Are multiple intelligences addressed? How are psychological (affective) objectives covered in the training?

Another stream for consideration is critical thinking skills for cognitive-level, intellectual outcomes. The lowest level of thinking is simple recall of information. The highest level of thinking is evaluating information. What is expected of the participants? Is understanding and being versed in the content enough? Or do they need to be able to apply and analyze the information? Is the training intervention aimed toward synthesis and evaluation of the subject matter?

If your organization is looking for a customized program, then these considerations should be the initial discussion between the training designer and the client. If you are shopping for an off-the shelf training class, first be sure of your needs and your performance goals. Then compare these with the training outcomes of the class or program.

If you need to be able to synthesize and evaluate the subject matter, then attending a training class that is focused on knowledge of material will not be effective. If you attend a training program that is focused on evaluation of material, and you have gaps in your knowledge and comprehension of the subject matter, then this will not be effective either.

Discuss

About The Author

Sinead Randig’s default image

Sinead Randig

Sinead Randig is the instructional Design & Training Manager for MAS Solutions LLC., a Houston Texas based consulting firm that specializes in helping companies achieve breakthrough performance by focusing on Quality Enhancement and Productivity Improvement.

Comments

Guide

This is a great guide for those who are considering sending their employees to training class or seminars. The four qualities should be looked at before they attend and employers can make notes on what they hope to see before spending the money on the venture.

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