Most companies invest in training and development of staff for improved success, regardless of the industry. However, instructor-led training in the workplace costs both time and money, and managers run the risk of wasting valuable resources if they do not see significant returns on their investments in training.
CSO Insights (Chief Sales Officer Insights), a market research firm, conducted a performance optimization study that sought to measure investments in training, focusing on the pitfalls that can interfere with success. The study concluded that there are processes in place at many organizations that can have a negative impact on training ROI.
Random process. When companies use an unorganized approach to conducting business, it can certainly impact the value of training. Rather than adhering to company standards and processes, individuals often end up following their own protocols for completing assignments or marketing products, instead of what they learned in class.
Informal process. Even in businesses that invest in training programs, actual learning retention can hit significant snags following completion of the courses if there is no formal process for monitoring results. Although the skills taught in these classes can be beneficial, lack of monitoring or measurement by managers leaves them unable to ascertain if the learning has been retained and is being used on the job.
Formal process. Some companies do have their own training protocols to reinforce skills for use in real-life scenarios in the workplace. In these organizations, specific managers perform periodic reviews to determine the efficacy of the information learned and then make changes to training based on their analysis. While an improvement on the previous two processes—Random and Informal—it is not necessarily a systemic or dynamic approach.
Dynamic process. Organizations that reap the most benefit from training provide continuous feedback to employees to ensure that useful skills are being applied. They also keep an eye on changes in the marketplace or business and adapt systems as necessary.
Following the teachings of Donald Kirkpatrick ensures that businesses are more likely to get “bang for the buck” from their training expenditures.
Following the 4 Levels of Evaluation
As the former president of the American Society for Training and Development, Kirkpatrick had extensive experience developing standards that optimized training programs. In 1959, he published his first works on effective professional education in Training and Development Journal, called the “Four-Level Training Evaluation Model.” Since its initial release, Kirkpatrick’s four levels have been updated twice, once in 1975 and once in 1994 when he published one of his most well-regarded pieces, “Evaluating Training Programs.” Since then, his works have guided effective training exercises in the corporate environment. Kirkpatrick’s lessons involve four essential levels of evaluation:
Level 1: Reaction Determine participants’ thoughts and feelings about the program to capture overall satisfaction with the experience.
Level 2: Learning Gauge the increase of knowledge and skills as a result of the course.
Level 3: Behavior Measure the retention of information and its application in the work environment.
Level 4: Results Assess changes and how beneficial the improvements have been to the organization.
With today’s fast-paced and changing economy, the old guard methods of learning and development have become obsolete. Level 1 feedback forms are helpful but insufficient to conclude that the training has been effective. The real ROI is what happens when employees are back on the job – three months, six months and a year down the line. Learning, behavior and retention must be evaluated at subsequent post training intervals.
Achieving multi-million dollar success
Several years ago, a world renowned international technology company hired Merit Career Development to improve the skills of its sales force. Merit’s powerful training techniques and tools enabled the employees to close several deals worth millions of dollars within six months of completing the course. The financial impact was significant as they earned substantial profits for the company. The program is now used around world for hundreds of participants per year.
With its fully customizable courses that can be tailor-made to fit any business, Merit ensures that its clients receive the highest possible ROI on all its professional training programs. To learn more, review Merit’s course list or contact Merit today.
© 2014 Merit Career Development. All rights reserved. For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@MeritCD.com.