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Good training: A vital differentiator for delivering ROI and positive feedback

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15th Jul 2013
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Patrick Mayfield takes a look at how tailored training gives you the edge when it comes to measuring effectiveness.

Workplace change, cutbacks and increased pressure to deliver results are facing many companies today, which is why it is more important than ever to consider all costs and ROI related to any investment in training and development. I believe that training - good training - is a vital differentiator for organisations that are striving to succeed in this difficult climate.

An objective of any workshop or training programme should be to leave delegates with the ability to take practical steps immediately. In other words, it should be principle-centred and practice-oriented. Delegates will gain more value from trainers and workshop leaders the more they practice various techniques and exercises. The training session should be content-rich with the majority of time devoted to individual and group work, making it a deeply practical experience.

Quality training is obviously the key to ROI on training spend and will also prevent any unpleasant surprises when it comes to monitoring and measuring its effectiveness. If, as just mentioned, the training is practical and tailored to the particular requirements of an organisation, it will already be ahead of the game when it comes to measuring effectiveness. Of course, for businesses to be sure they are spending any scarce resources wisely, measuring and reporting the value gained from training must be an integral part of the process. Gauging the reactions of people taking part will determine their satisfaction in training delivery. But how can this best be done?

"What should be measured is the depth and extent to which a person's individual or team performance is improved and whether there are changes in the knowledge, learning and attitude of someone after training."

The first approach to measurement is still all too often the classic, but inappropriately named, 'Happy Sheets', an inexpensive and simple tool which provides immediate feedback from delegates; but unless these are carefully designed and structured, they can be ineffective and a complete waste of time. Positive feedback does not necessarily mean that the training has delivered a new skill which will result in improved performance in the workplace. What should be measured is the depth and extent to which a person's individual or team performance is improved and whether there are changes in the knowledge, learning and attitude of someone after training. They may have learnt the theory but can they put that knowledge into practice? A competent corporate trainer will work in tandem with an organisation and its managers to help engage employees through repetitive skill practice to help them apply what they have newly learnt into their job role. And a very effective method of analysing the success of knowledge retention role play.

But the analysis shouldn't stop there. It is important to compare  a person's behaviour after training, to assess the relevance and sustainability of their behavioural change at different stages over an agreed period of time. Organisations need to ask: are we seeing benefits? To what extent has training had an impact in terms of productivity, quality, expenditure and time, or on their wider goals and objectives? Working with the delegates’ line managers on this aspect is powerful.

Even if the training delivered positive results and significant business improvement, you need to look beyond the business benefits and determine whether the benefits are worth the cost. Which brings us to the final step in analysing the effectiveness of training delivery. Was the business case delivered and did you get a return on your investment? Ultimately, you can measure all you like, but if you don't get the training right at the outset, you are unlikely to achieve ROI. It may seem obvious, but you need to start at the beginning, at the point you are thinking about the type of training you need. It will be too late if, at the evaluation stage, you get negative feedback on poor training delivery, or if you discover the new skills learnt are the wrong skills.

Training, good training, is a vital differentiator for delivering ROI and positive feedback for any organisation that is going to prevail in this current climate. Therefore training must be aligned to strategy, well thought-through, and really linked in with business requirements. Training that doesn’t miss the point, but instead, hits the mark.

Patrick Mayfield is founder and chairman of pearcemayfield, a leading international provider of learning solutions and support services in leadership and change management through projects and programmes. In 1993, the UK Government invited Patrick to join the management team that delivered PRINCE2™ when he also became an author of the method. His blog, ‘Learning Leader’ is at http://pearcemayfield.typepad.com/

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