To assess training at the reaction level (sometimes called the "smile test"), you measure the reaction of the participants to the training experience. After the training session, consider asking the following questions: "Did the facilitator keep the group's attention? Did you enjoy the exercises? Was the training room comfortable? Would you recommend that others take this workshop?" Responding to the feedback can help your trainers develop stronger facilitation skills and maintain the training department's positive reputation.
When you evaluate training at the level of learning, you assess whether or not the participants actually acquired new skills and knowledge, or changed their attitude as a result of the training. Consider asking questions like these to assess Level 2 learning: "How much of our sales volume is attributed to each of our top ten customers? Which new products were introduced in the past six months? Who should you call if you have questions about the benefits offered by the company? Do you believe it is important to expand our diversity outreach efforts?" If scores on a post-test are higher than scores on a pre-test, you can see that some learning has taken place. Keep in mind, though, that memory fades with time; if you want to know how much learning took place in one program compared to another, you must keep the conditions constant.
There are many who would say that learning skills and adopting new attitudes is fine, but that doesn't mean much until you change behavior. To assess behavioral change, many companies rely on the supervisor's observation. You may also measure behavioral change using 360-feedback or by looking for trends on employee surveys.
Another way to measure the impact of your training programs is to establish their direct link with business results. If you can show that training reduces operating costs, improves profits, reduces turnover or speeds cycle time, then your training is having a definite business payback.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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