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Measuring Success


Hi all, I am looking to try and find the best way to evaluate the success of my training sessions – by success I mean the affect it is having on the performance of those being trained. The training I deliver is usually on fairly technical topics based in legal and medical areas – there is a lot of theory to cover but also how to apply that theory to real life, I suppose what I am trying to get at is that its not really procedural type training. At the moment, I test my delegates at the end of sessions or programs and then look to test them 2 weeks and 3 months later to see how much knowledge is being retained. I also look for feedback from their managers – but this is pretty informal. I was hoping that some of you may be able to give me some tips on some things to try, what has worked for you in the past, things to avoid, and if possible what type of training / area of business you operate in. Thanks Rob

6 Responses

  1. Observe – don’t test.

    If you are looking to measure performance improvements, then set baselines prior to training and then observe the differences in the follow up stage.

    Or assist managers/colleagues to do this, if you are unable to do this directly.

    Testing is fine as a measure of knowledge, but not much cop as measure of practice.

  2. What will change?
    Are you looking to train your students to do something new or to do something differently?

    If new, then establish with managers what performance they expect as a result of this training. If different, then what improvement do they expect?

    Anything by Prof. Kurt Kraiger will be relevant to your question.

    Good luck.


  3. Ideas for evaluating training

    Hi Rob

    I have used a Knowledge/Skill Checklist for many of my courses, where we list all the competencies being developed on the course. Delegates have to complete the checklist pre and post course, and then their line managers test out the same competencies at some later time. I have found it gives delegates more ownership of their develoment and acts as a neat ‘handover tool’ between off-job trainer and on-job manager . It helps them support (as well as test) their delegate in their development planning as a result of the course.

    For a sample, please go to and scroll down to ‘TNA & Evaluation – Coaching Skills’. Feel free to adapt the model.

    Hope that helps.

    Happy Days!


  4. Get a Baseline

    Rob, your students need to be asked to produce Baseline data before they start




  5. You should always have a ‘Bench Mark’

     In order to measure the effectiveness of any form of training and to evaluate its success you need to set bench marks, what do you expect to see people doing differently as a result of your training and by when? If you don’t know the outcomes you expect from the training then it is extremely difficult to identify if it has provided what you wanted it to.


    Its great to test the learning directly after the training course but the real question should be are the participants of the course applying the skills that they have learned as a result of the training? You should always test the learning but more importantly you should always track the implementation of skills learned, are they all achieving the impact you desired?


    To find out more about the process of planning, measuring and evaluation the success of training visit

  6. Are you asking the right question here?

    Are you asking the right question, I wonder?

    If success of your training is defined as improved performance then learners must have the opportunity to apply their learning to situations that have the chance to deliver better performance.

    This almost always requires the line manager or team leader to agree not just *what* performance outcomes the training must support (NOT deliver – it’s not your responsibility to deliver greater performance, it’s the participant and their manager…) but also *how* to facilitate that in terms of pre, during and post event activities.

    Your training can be totally effective, but if the learner doesn’t believe they will have the opportunity to apply it, and/or their manager doesn’t provide the opportunities and encouragement to apply the learning in a targeted way, there will be little or no improvement in performance. That’s nothing to do with your training and everything to do with the culture & environment the learner is operating in.

    One way to help resolve where the causes of blockage are is to test knowledge as well as observe learners demonstrating their competence in class. If they come up to standard at this point you know they’re leaving the training with the required standard. Failure to perform after the class is now almost certainly caused by something outside of the training.

    Robert Brinkerhoff’s excellent book on the Success Case Method gives some great detail on examples of finding both successful transfer of learning to improved performance as well as determining the causes for lack of improvement.

    So encourage and support participants and their managers in drawing up a plan & agreement for the required performance outcomes from your training and how, between them, they will make this happen. In my book this is a core responsibility of the manager – something I’d be taking in to account (and have done) when considering performance appraisals, raises & bonus payments of managers who work(ed) for me.

    As an external consultant you may feel this is not practical to do. I understand. It’s also a ‘cop-out’ in my book. As part of the contracting & sales process you’ve gone through to get this ‘gig’ you simply must address and cover this aspect with your client. If you don’t, you’re just another ‘me too’ consultant hawking empty and vague promises. If you do tackle it then I, like many other purchasers of external services, will give you plenty of attention (provided what you can do for me is relevant!).

    As a matter of fact, many clients would welcome the expertise and help you could bring in terms of ensuring transfer of learning in to measurable and desired results. Developing reliable and credible baseline measures are often trickier than many think. Getting sufficient clarity about just what issues the training is intended to help with is also pretty tricky to get sufficiently ‘right’. And if you bring a business brain to this problem as well as your training/consulting brain, well, then you’ll be ‘quids in’!

    That’s the kind of ‘value-add’ that makes a client less price-sensitive and more likely to (a) come back for more when needed and (b) recommend you to his/her network – now what would THAT do for your own business development?!

    Now, what was your question again?!

    Good luck.


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