Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why Aren't You Assessing Trainees' Outcomes?

My experience suggests that if you provide training within a corporate environment, you most likely aren't assessing your trainees outcomes post training. Am I right?

For some of the training you provide, it might not be necessary or worth the effort, however, where it is possible and worthwhile assessing trainee outcomes, I argue that it should be done. Why? Because it provides you with feedback about the value of your training and it provides trainees with esteem-building feedback about their performance. It's also a better return on investment.
Continue here ...  Much in a corporate environment that is labelled as training is actually information distribution. For example, when there is a significant change in policy or procedures, it is common for 'trainers' to address groups of employees to explain the changes and advise employees what must now be done to implement the policies or procedures. This usually amounts to a 'show and tell' session where the trainer becomes a talking head who simply displays overhead projection slides and discusses the topic. At the end a 'happy sheet' is often passed around to find out whether the participants enjoyed the training.

At the end of the session there is no way of knowing if the participants understood the changes and more importantly, will remember them. Fortunately, this potential deficit can be overcome by having online or hardcopied versions of the policies and procedures that staff can access as needed. To that extent, it's usually the type of case where assessment of outcomes isn't justified or necessary.

If the training relates to use of a computer system, calculation of client payment rates, or anything else that is complex and assessable, my view is that it should be assessed. As a staff development and training manager for a decade or so, I had a policy within my department that if assessment was practicable, possible and desirable, it was to be done. 

Numbers of the employees within the organisations for which I worked saw training as an opportunity to have a paid break from their regular work. They had been inculcated by previous training managers to expect that they could simply sit through a usually monotonous activity and at the end of it head to a hotel for a few drinks before going home.

Those people got a shock in training I organised; they had to perform and demonstrate their capability. For example, in introducing a new corporate computer system and associated policies and procedures, I designed an instructional program that required learners to carry out real-to-life tasks using computers with actual copies of the software they would use at their desks. They had to source certain information in their procedures manuals. The topic was well suited to the competency based approach I used and that required users to produce final products identical to those they would produce at work with a 100% accuracy.

Each task done was compared against exemplars completed by subject matter experts and learners were marked as competent or not yet competent; if the task was incorrect or incomplete, they went back for another attempt. Additional assistance was provided when necessary so that by the end of the training intervention, I could tell executive management that everyone training had been assessed as competent.

Without assessment, there is no guarantee that learners leave a training session knowing how to complete the tasks accurately, within a reasonable time, and in accordance with corporate requirements.


Where it is possible and desirable, employees undergoing training should be assessed to ensure that they have learnt what it was intended they learn. Not to assess trainees is an inefficient way to run a training program and therefore does not provide a sound return on investment.

What do you think? Do you assess your training interventions?


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting. Comments with inappropriate content or spam will not be approved.