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The Kirkpatrick New World Level 3 pt1


Ahead of their only UK speaking engagement at TrainingZone Live, Jim and Wendy Kirkpatrick take us through what they consider to be the most important of the Four Levels. Read on...
Many training professionals believe that the most important of the Kirkpatrick Four LevelsTM is Level 4 results. Actually, the Kirkpatricks strongly believe that it is Level 3. This article on Level 3 behaviour presents new ideas on a level that has been underutilised at best; in many cases skipped completely. In fact, it is often referred to as 'the missing link': the underappreciated, yet essential bridge between learning and results.

Figure 1: The Kirkpatrick Four LevelsTM















The missing link

Learning professionals the world over are experienced at designing, developing, and delivering training programs. They are not as good at ensuring that training participants actually apply what they learn on the job. Some don't even view it as their concern. While there are books and articles on methods for evaluating Level 3, the industry has not cracked the code on bringing this level to purposeful life. That purpose is to achieve targeted organisational results. 
Why is Level 3 so important? Because if training participants don't apply what they learned on the job, manifesting in sustained critical behaviors being performed, targeted outcomes will not be realised and strategic goals will not be achieved. It's all in the execution of the learnings, policies, processes, and procedures that work actually gets done. Yet the current lack of execution at Level 3 largely leaves us with a 'smile sheets (Level 1), pre- and post-tests (Level 2), and hope for the best (Levels 3 and 4)' approach.
"Why is Level 3 so important? Because if training participants don't apply what they learned on the job, manifesting in sustained critical behaviors being performed, targeted outcomes will not be realised and strategic goals will not be achieved."
One of the root causes of the lack of attention to Level 3 is the dichotomy of beliefs of the ultimate purpose of training and learning. Many believe it is to deliver 'effective training'. More enlightened and business-minded professionals believe it is to create and demonstrate 'training effectiveness'. 

Effective training: training that give participants the intended knowledge, skills and/or attitudes to be able to perform the critical behaviours on the job
Training effectiveness: training and subsequent reinforcement / monitoring that together deliver the desired organisational results
There exists a long-standing belief that the job of the training professional ends when participants leave a training room or complete their e-learning modules. Conversely, business leaders typically believe that it is the job of training and HRD professionals to ensure application of what is taught. They believe this will naturally occur as a result of training events or self-directed learning without further effort.

A cycle of waste

As a case in point, a health care organisation in the U.S. delivered the same training program three times over the course of four years. The goal was to increase patient satisfaction. The organisation is hoping that this is the year the training (Levels 1 and 2) will stick (Level 3) and finally bring about the desired results (Level 4).
The problem is that the training is a short, classroom-based program and there is no reinforcement or follow-up. The results they are receiving (none) are in line with their current plan. With no Level 3 reinforcement, the majority of training graduates will do nothing different when they return to the job. Hence, this healthcare organisation has seen absolutely no change in their patient safety scores, despites millions being spent on this annual training intervention.       
The bottom line is that training alone does not bring about enough change in behaviour to lead to significant results. People simply like to stay in familiar and comfortable patterns of behaviour. While many learning professionals are frustrated that their business partners do not respect or value the contribution they make, the truth is that the contribution of training alone is small.
The good news is that an expanded working definition of Level 3 can provide the missing link in the chain of evidence showing the value of training. At the same time, it will increase the contribution of training to the bottom line.
Common arguments (e.g. excuses) for not evaluating Level 3 are, "it is too hard", "too costly", "we don't have control over participants once they leave our classrooms", and "that's not our job". In reality, Level 3 is not that difficult. Here is a step-by-step plan for implementing Level 3 in your training initiatives.

Step 1: Identify the critical behaviours

The first step is to accurately determine which behaviours are the ones that will most likely lead to the achievement of the targeted Level 4 outcomes. 
This can be done by talking to the managers and supervisors of those that will be trained during the design process. Training professionals can find out which behaviours are most likely to produce the desired result of the training. For example, if the desired outcome is a 10% increase in customer satisfaction, ask the managers what specific behaviours, if performed consistently, would have the largest impact on the customer satisfaction score. Examples could be:
  • Customer service representatives continue to work with a client until he or she expresses that all concerns have been resolved satisfactorily
  • Customer inquiries receive a response within one business day
  • Pricing errors are corrected within two business hours of discovery
  • Associates greet any customer within 10ft of them

Step 2: Set up required drivers

Perhaps the most important step in any initiative is to set up Level 3 required drivers. These will provide both support and accountability for training graduates to perform the critical behaviors on the job.
"The proper combination of accountability and support drivers makes an effective performance support system that increases the likelihood that training graduates will successfully and reliably perform critical behaviours on the job."

Required drivers: processes and systems that monitor, reinforce, encourage or reward performance of critical behaviours on the job.

Required drivers consist of multiple forms of support and accountability for training graduates to perform critical behaviours on the job. The support elements are things that help employees with the right attitude try the new behaviours. Accountability elements enforce performance of the new behaviours for those that may not be as enthusiastic about them. Figure 2 gives examples of both types of drivers.

Figure 2: Examples of drivers

Drivers that increase accountability
Monitoring action plans                                       
Tracking individual key performance indicators
Teachbacks (to colleagues)
Performance reviews
Level 3 evaluation                                   
Action learning

Drivers that provide support
Job aids and help desks                        
Refresher training and social networking
Executive modelling                               
Incentives and recognition
The proper combination of accountability and support drivers makes an effective performance support system that increases the likelihood that training graduates will successfully and reliably perform critical behaviours on the job.
While most of the drivers mentioned originate externally, the ultimate goal is to facilitate as much personal responsibility on the part of the training graduates as possible. Internal motivation is more powerful and consistent than external motivation.
The New World Kirkpatrick Four LevelsTM is depicted in Figure 3 (in part 2). The required drivers surround the critical behaviors and work together as a system to create the highest possible level of business results.
Part 2 can be found here.
To book tickets to see Jim Kirkpatrick give his only UK speaking engagement of the year at TrainingZone Live click here
Jim Kirkpatrick PhD is a senior consultant for Kirkpatrick Partners. Jim consults for Fortune 500 companies around the world including Harley-Davidson, Booz Allen Hamilton, L’Oreal, Clarian Health, Ingersoll Rand, Honda, the Royal Air Force, and GE Healthcare. Jim has co-written 3 books with his father, Don Kirkpatrick, the creator of the Kirkpatrick Four Levels. He has written two new books with his wife, Wendy: Kirkpatrick Then and Now (2009 Kirkpatrick Publishing) and Training on Trial (2010 AMACOM Books)
Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick is the director of Kirkpatrick Partners, LLC. She manages the daily company operations and collaborates with her husband, Jim, on the latest Kirkpatrick methodology. Wendy is a certified instructional designer. She draws on two decades of experience in the business world to make her training relevant and impactful with measurable results. Read more about Jim and Wendy at Contact them at [email protected]

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