How do you know if a training course has been effective? How about good value for money? Transformational? Inspirational?

We all agree that training is important and that with the massive skills gap we have in business today, companies must invest in developing their people. But how do we know or measure the effectiveness of training?

I have been running training courses for 23 years and I like to think I am an effective trainer; that I inspire people and that I give them ways to transform their business lives. I have countless testimonials, stories of success and can point to millions of pounds saved, but how do we really know if our course has been productive?

As a business improvement professional I know that data is vital and I know that we must put in place processes to collect relevant data in order to keep growing and improving. But it is a real challenge to determine what data should be collected to measure training effectiveness.  Typically, the only data collected would be feedback scores at the end of the course. Some courses might go a little further by asking for daily feedback and providing an exam or quiz at the end of the session.

Do you think that’s enough? What do we actually get from this data? Feedback sheets, if designed correctly, will tell us how happy the delegate was with the training, the venue, the learning materials and the style of teaching.

But most are not well designed, and good trainers know how to get high marks on feedback sheets. Daily feedback is a little better but it is still, ultimately, a barometer of opinion, while exams only indicate how well the delegate listened. None pinpoint effectiveness; the data collected is not good enough, not reliable and not robust. It doesn’t give the company any data about value for money or the impact of the training on the organisation.

If you spend £5,000 on training, and the feedback sheets show that everyone enjoyed it, you haven’t answered the question about whether or not it was a good investment.

Get out what you put in

HR managers, training managers and procurement personnel should be demanding more. But to get more out, you need to put more in and a true measure of effectiveness will require some changes in your business. You will have to illustrate a clear business need for the training beforehand, you will need to have appropriate KPIs for the person attending the training and you will have to collect data after the training.

To work out the return we’re getting on training we need to know what the improvement has been. We need to know that before the training what took us an hour now takes ten minutes; we sold ten before and now sell 15; we used to complete five applications and now do ten. Without the initial figures, the measurements after the training are meaningless because you can’t show a comparison. And if we can’t show this tangible improvement then we are going on gut feel about training’s effectiveness.

Get started by first understanding what needs to be improved at your business – is it speed?  Or quality? Perhaps attitudes need working on? Once you’ve made a decision, set up a measure of performance to quantify the current situation. We then need to analyse the market to find the most effective training course and ensure steps are taken to businesses have fully optimised their chances of success. These include:

  • Briefing the delegate on the purpose of the training
  • Explaining how success will be measured
  • Providing support to delegates before, after and during training or giving access to coaching
  • Eliminating distractions
  • Providing real examples for delegates to work on during and after the training to apply the learning
  • Ensuring delegates receive support online and in person after the training to implement what they have learned
  • Testing delegates to make sure the learning is correctly applied
  • Measuring delegates to illustrate improvement on KPIs

Taking the next steps

For businesses to really ensure these steps are carried out for each training course, these questions should be part of the measuring process. Where the steps have not all be carried out, organisations will have comparisons for success with those where each box has been ticked. More often than not, those that have carried out each step will secure a stronger, and tangible, return on investment than those that don’t.

Only by answering these questions can we determine how effective the training was, and identify the return on investment. The Lean Six Sigma training by 100% Effective is set up to do all of this. We work with delegates and clients before the events to set things up correctly.

We provide help to apply learning during the training. Projects and coaching are used after the training to ensure everything is correctly applied. Training is also provided for those who will be supporting the delegate, such as their line manager, to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Finally, we only sign off the training after you prove your success and we measure ROI for the business. If you can’t collect data on your training, you can’t prove its effectiveness and the training might not give you more than a few days out of the office.

We believe that measuring training is possible no matter what the training course, so why don’t you share with us what creative steps you’ve taken to measure success?