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Build Evaluation into the Design of Your Training Program


Days, weeks, or even months, go into building a training program. Employees attend and seem to listen attentively. Then they return to their desks and a few try to incorporate what they've learned to the real world. After that, very little, if anything, changes. What went wrong? It's possible the participants didn't know where to start because the training didn't focus on expected outcomes when it was being developed or when it was being conducted. I avoid this problem by focusing on outcomes from the beginning of the program's development. At the earliest phase (analysis of the problem to be addressed in training), I ask managers what results they want out of the program. From then on, we build an evaluation strategy around those desired results. (This aligns perfectly with Kirkpatrick's Fourth Level, which is the degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training and follow-up sessions.) When development enters the design phase, each trainer is told that I will be asking participants how much their behavior changed as a result of the course. This not only gets the trainers' attention, but aligns with Kirkpatrick's Third Level - how much participants apply what they've learned in training. Some trainers may be initially defensive but then go about building a curriculum that focuses on real-world skills and is not a brain dump. In fact, in my interpretation of the ADDIE model (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) for building effective training, I include evaluation objectives and outcomes in the earliest phases. The key is that if you want a training program that has an impact, make sure you make that clear from the very beginning.

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