Summary: It’s time to start measuring your training department. Start with these five items and you’ll get a good picture of what’s going on.

Measuring training can be difficult, especially when you consider all of the “angles”. You can measure for money, ROI, immediate success, or delayed success (or failure). When it comes to measuring your Training Department, there are five important ways to obtain a good picture of what’s going on and make corrections if necessary.

First, you should measure immediate reaction to training. This measurement method is often referred to as a “smile sheet” – a quick measurement that may take into account the fact that the class is still smiling. After all, they haven’t been back to the job to really apply what they’ve learned, have they? The argument against immediate reaction is just that: you get an immediate reaction only. But think about what you really are measuring: do the participants feel good when they leave, or were they uncomfortable with the instructor, the material, or the training experience in general? Do they feel their time was worthwhile upon first glance? Do they feel that the material is appropriate on first glance? These are all helpful ways to determine how well your instructors and training developers are doing. A first impression is usually fairly accurate, so use immediate reaction surveys after each course, for both in class and online interventions. But don’t use this method by itself.

After the “smile sheet”, surveying should continue in the field. Application survey will help you discover if the participants are using the material on the job or not. Your response rate will probably be lower than the “smile sheet,” after all, the immediate reaction is obtained from a captive audience. So wait 30 or 45 days and survey the participants based on the objectives of the course. Are they able to carry out the tasks they were taught? Are they using the product information and quick reference guides that were delivered in class? Do they feel that everything they were taught in class has been worthwhile in the field? Here’s an additional piece of application survey: touch the managers and supervisors, as well. You can even ask the same questions – can your employee carry out a certain task, are they well versed in products, etc. With application survey for managers and employees, you’ll get a good picture of what actually happened when the real world came back into play.

While you’re considering surveys, think about random surveys of the training department’s customers. Create a few questions that explore how the population feels about the training department, its programs, its image, and even its instructors. If your training department is “in touch” with the population, you’ll be able to see it clearly. If the department has been branded an “ivory tower”, you’ll also have an opportunity to see that. You’ll find that a survey to customers who have not recently been to a course will uncover new opportunities – and help you measure current attitudes toward training.

Instructor evaluation should be a part of any department measurement. Your immediate reaction survey should have some reference to the instructor’s performance, but don’t rely solely on that measurement. First, determine the criteria you’ll want to measure. Some examples are professionalism, dress code, clarity of speech, presentation skills, adherence to training materials, and demonstration of the company’s mission and values. After you’ve determined your criteria, make a judgment on who should evaluate the instructors, preferably a senior instructor or indirect manager. Positioning of the evaluation is important as well – you should explain to the team that the evaluations are in place to help everyone move to the next level.

Finally, you can measure your department based on budget. To do this, you should take your annual budget and break it down to controllable items, such as materials costs and cost per student. If you’re spending too much training new hires, examine the program for possible flaws. If your materials cost too much, find out why – you could have too many types, incorrect, or even unnecessary materials. Not only is this a good measurement for your training department, it also provides an opportunity for you to involve your staff in their measurement. Ask them for an opinion on why the materials cost is too high – you’ll get the best answers at the “grass roots” level.

If you’re ready to measure your training department, start with these five items. You’ll get a good picture of your department, its capabilities, your courses, and your expenses.


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