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Involving Managers in Measuring Training Effectiveness

Written By Shalini Merugu

Involving Managers in Measuring Training Effectiveness

In a recent blog Increasing Response Rates for Training Evaluations, we looked at tips to drive learner participation in training evaluations. In this blog, we’ll look at how managers can be involved in driving a better response rate for training evaluations and in giving feedback for measuring training effectiveness.

Share training goals with managers

Setting expectations and familiarizing learners with the learning objectives of a training program are important. There is no dispute about that. We all share these goals with learners whether it is an ILT or an eLearning course. But how many times do we share training goals with managers? In most cases, especially in larger organizations with very large teams and a wide range of training offered, managers are barely aware of which training their direct reports are attending. In the case of eLearning programs, it is even more difficult to keep track because the direct reports take the training at their desks. It’s only when the training administrator pulls out course completion reports do the managers have visibility into the training programs attended by their reports.

To involve managers, a simple mail (maybe even an LMS notification with details of agenda) to managers with the learning agenda can go a long way in ensuring that managers can provide meaningful feedback on effectiveness of a training program, long after it is over. Sharing the agenda is further likely to motivate mangers to meet with their direct reports at least once during the course to see how it is going and then meeting with the employee to discuss how they expect to see the learning applied. This could also help managers set expectations for employees, which will be useful for the next performance appraisal as well.

Involving managers is especially critical if the training has been requested by any other program sponsor and not by the immediate manager. In which case, employees’ commitment to the training effort is likely to be a little less. By involving managers, employee buy-in is likely to increase.

Encourage managers to drive completion of training evaluations

Evaluations for training are critical for improving the training solution and gaugingits effectiveness. The rate of learner responses can be improved with gentle reminders from managers to their direct reports for completing training evaluations. This is more effective than impersonal mail notifications fired from an LMS.

Schedule regular feedback sessions

Arrange for regular, ongoing feedback sessions from managers. A typical strategy could be to include the manager in a debrief session after the training, and follow it up with feedback sessions after every month. This will help in identifying if the new skills are being used, identifying new gaps, and providing additional support if required. Of course, this will depend on which level of learning you intend to measure. If you are looking at Kirkpatrick’s level 3, which is behavior (to what extent did participants change their behavior back in the workplace as a result of the training?), this kind of feedback becomes mandatory.

You can use both on-the-job observation and formal interviews or reports from managers for this. One thing to remember is that this kind of ongoing feedback is costly and time-consuming, so save it for important trainings.

Use task analysis data as the basis for your questionnaires

To make sure that results are objective and unbiased, have a questionnaire based on the task analysis you conducted before you designed the training program and get both the learners and their managers to fill out their responses on the noticeable improvement on each task at regular intervals. Also provide space where they can give instances of actual application to the job as well as areas of potential application to the job.

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  • Michael J. Spangle

    “But how many times do we share training goals with managers? In most cases, especially in larger organizations with very large teams and a wide range of training offered, managers are barely aware of which training their direct reports are attending.”

    In response to the above quote from your article, I would say the following:
    If the SAT or ADDIE process is being faithfully followed then the Manager is driving the training goals. They are the ones receiving reports from the first-line supervisors concerning performance shortfalls. They are the ones requesting training for those people whose performance shortfalls are knowledge and/or skill based. Therefore, they set the training goals.

    “To involve managers, a simple mail (maybe even an LMS notification with details of agenda) to managers with the learning agenda can go a long way in ensuring that managers can provide meaningful feedback on effectiveness of a training program, long after it is over.”

    If the company/department has a CRC (Curriculum Review Committee) chaired by the department Manager then the metric for determining the effectiveness of training will already be established at the CRC. The performance of the trainees will be monitored by the first-lines, and a determination will be made as to whether the performance improvement is sufficient to meet the previously agreed upon standard. This will tell the department Manager whether the training was effective or not.

    “Involving managers is especially critical if the training has been requested by any other program sponsor and not by the immediate manager.”

    All training requests need to be reviewed by the CRC and approved by the Manager. If a request for training comes from outside the department, it must be approved by the Manager before it is implemented.

    “Encourage managers to drive completion of training evaluations”

    Absolutely. One of the best ways to do this is by having the class attended by a first-line and have that person collect the trainee feedback.

    “Arrange for regular, ongoing feedback sessions from managers.”

    While the CRC meets quarterly on a formal basis, the trainer would do well to get regular “face-time” with the first-line supervisors and department Managers. It also helps for the trainer to get “face-time” with the worker bees.

    “To make sure that results are objective and unbiased, have a questionnaire based on the task analysis you conducted before you designed the training program and get both the learners and their managers to fill out their responses on the noticeable improvement on each task at regular intervals. Also provide space where they can give instances of actual application to the job as well as areas of potential application to the job.”

    This makes a lot of sense.