Customer Partner Training, Professional Training

A Guide to Conducting Successful Training Evaluations

8 min read | Jun 23, 2023
A Guide to Conducting Successful Training Evaluations cover image

Offering effective employee training is crucial to any successful business. This is especially true since 56% of millennial workers would leave their current job if better training were offered elsewhere.

The bottom line? If you want to attract and retain top talent, you need to deliver effective training.

Now, let’s show how how to use training evaluations to boost the impact of your training programs.

What is Training Evaluation?

Training programs are designed with goals in mind. But actually accomplishing your training program goals is easier said than done, especially if you aren’t constantly monitoring and improving your training processes.

That’s where training evaluation comes in.

Training evaluation is a systematic process that uses data, feedback, and analysis to identify the gaps and inefficiencies in a training program.

The goal of this process is twofold:

  • Improvement. To make changes that will better align the training program with its own objectives and, or larger business objectives.
  • Accountability. To make sure instructors, administrators, and course creators are giving trainees the best possible learning experience.

Training evaluations can have all kinds of positive impacts, from improved employee engagement to increased training ROI.

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Why is Training Evaluation Important?

We could go on and on about the importance of training evaluation. But in the interest of keeping things brief, here are the highlights:

Make Targeted Improvements

Guesswork and intuition might eventually yield results, but it’ll come at the cost of time and resources. Training evaluation helps you zero-in on quick wins and identify larger fixes that are sure to lead to more positive outcomes.

Increase Your Training ROI

Training evaluations are also powerful tools for boosting the ROI of your training programs. The more efficient and effective your programs are, the better outcomes. Or in some cases, similar results that cost less time and money to achieve!

Measure Effectiveness

By taking the time to systematically analyze your training programs, you’ll generate plenty of data you can use to understand the performance of your training programs. This lets you gauge the effectiveness of your training strategies and adjust them as needed for maximum impact.

How To Conduct a Successful Training Evaluation

Alright, it’s time for the main event. Let’s go over a 9-part framework for conducting successful training evaluations:

1) Identify the Purpose of the Evaluation

The first step of any training evaluation is pinning down a purpose. Skip this step, and you run the risk of overwhelming yourself with potential threads to follow.

So, what should your purpose look like? To answer that question, let’s start by looking at a few examples of possible objectives:

  • To determine if the learning objectives were met.
  • To assess whether the program objectives solved a business problem.
  • To assess the impacts of the training programs on the business areas.
  • To identify the strengths and weaknesses of the training program.
  • To assess whether the training program was worth the time and resources.
  • To decide who should participate in future programs.

All these purposes focus on different aspects of training programs: efficacy, outcomes, gaps, and so on. So let’s say your main purpose of evaluating training was to understand if learning objectives were met. Log into your LMS or eLearning platform and see if your users completed training…What’s important to remember in the first stage of training evaluation, is that _your company focuses on one thing at a time. Casting too wide a net when evaluating training performance isn’t effective.

2) Determine KPIs

The goal of a training evaluation is to improve training for future and existing participants still enrolled. So how do you measure it? The answer is with carefully selected key performance metrics (KPIs).

Start with the purpose of the training (this is different from the purpose of the training evaluation). Then think about KPIs that are traceable back to that purpose

For example, let’s say the goal of your support training program is to improve customer satisfaction scores. In this case, the KPIs practically recommend themselves—you’ll want to track NPS, support satisfaction ratings, average handle time (AHT), and so on. Then, you can compare these KPIs with training performances to better understand your program's effective.

In complex cases, you may need to dig deeper and look into the development of individual skills and capabilities using metrics for proficiency and assessment scores from your employee training tracking software.

3) Pick the Right Evaluation Models

When it comes to training evaluations, you’re going to generate more reliable results if you work from a tried-and-tested framework. Lucky for you, there are plenty to choose from.

Here are a few common evaluation models:

The Kirkpatrick Model

The Kirkpatrick Model is an assessment model that works well for evaluating both formal training and structured training that’s informal.

Image of kirkpatrick model chart

The model evaluates training based on four criteria:

  1. Reaction: How did the trainee feel about the training?
  2. Learning: How much did the trainee learn?
  3. Behavior: Did the new skills and knowledge transfer to their work?
  4. Results: What kind of improvements resulted from the training?

The Phillips ROI Model

The Phillips ROI Model expands the Kirkpatrick Model to include a fifth criterion. ROI.

Image of phillips roi model chart

This is usually a better model for organizations and departments that need to justify training programs by the tangible short-term value they add rather than longer-term intangibles like employee satisfaction or retention.

The Anderson Model

The Anderson Model of Learning Evaluation (or Anderson's Value of Learning Model) is a three-stage process designed to align training programs with organizational goals and objectives.

The three stages are:

  1. Determine current alignment against strategic priorities.
  2. Use evaluation and measurement methods to evaluate the contribution of learning to strategic priorities.
  3. Establish the most relevant approaches for your organization. 

4) Choose a Comprehensive Training Evaluation Tool

Training evaluation can be done manually, but it’s much easier (and more reliable) with a training evaluation tool. What you’re looking for here is a tool that allows you to generate training data, measure it, and synthesize the results into intuitive reports and dashboards.

visual demonstration of evaluating training with a tool

Academy of Mine (AOM, for short) is a user-friendly learning management system (LMS) that makes it easy to create and manage training, deliver virtual learning sessions or self-paced courses, and track trainee data.

Using an LMS like the one we offer at AOM, gives your company the freedom to report on training programs with ease. Working with a company like Academy of Mine, you can even request custom reports catered to your company’s success, to fully meet your training evaluation needs.

5) Select Training Assessment Types

When it comes to evaluating the results of a training program, employers have some options. You can use a range of different assessment types to figure out what needs improvement and what’s adding value to the organization.

Here are a few possibilities:

Surveys: Asking employees to share their feelings about a training program is a simple, reliable way to generate data for your evaluation. Use AOM to create surveys with a range of question types; multiple choice; star ratings; short answers, and more.

Academy of Mine survey feature

Assignments: Assignments are a great way to measure whether your users understand the curriculum being taught. If you’re using a cloud-based platform to train and evaluate progress, this is super simple since everyone can do their jobs asynchronously. AOM makes this process easy, with its intuitive assignment builder that lets you create a grading curriculum attached to assignments, then respond to student submissions with scores and feedback directly in the LMS.

Program Monitoring: Program monitoring means tracking data on course completion rates, time spent on activities, and more. With AOM, you can automatically track data like this over the lifetime of your program, giving you a detailed overview of how well it’s succeeding.

AOM reporting dashboard

Performance Monitoring: To link training back to larger business objectives, you should track job performance metrics that relate to the training program’s purpose. Trying to increase sales? Compare trainee win rates, YoY (Year-over-Year) growth, and quota attainment before and after completing the program. If you haven’t used an LMS before, check out what reports are commonly used in them.

Business Monitoring: Finally, you can also track larger business trends to assess your training programs (although this can be a bit difficult due to the number of confounding variables). Look for changes in customer feedback, market share, revenue, etc., before and after the program and see if any noticeable patterns emerge.

6) Gather Training Data

It’s finally time to start gathering training data. To make sure this process goes smoothly, you need to get clear about your audience and a few other things:

  • Who will collect and organize the data?
  • What data needs to be collected?
  • How will the data be collected? (e.g., exported from the LMS).
  • When will the data need to be collected?

Make sure you document these answers so that your whole team is on the same page before gathering training data to evaluate progress.

7) Analyze Data & Report Results

There isn’t one correct way to analyze training data, it depends on the specifics of the evaluation and organization.

However, as a general rule, keep your analysis as simple as possible. Overcomplicating things with unnecessary charts, formulas, metrics, and tables means that key findings are less likely to get the attention they deserve.

When writing your report, be sure to have a clear audience in mind. Some stakeholders (e.g., investors) will be more interested in financials, tangible results, and short-term wins. Whereas, managers and employees are probably more interested in qualitative data.

Make note of any information you feel these key stakeholders would be interested in and use it to flesh out your report's outline:

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Evaluation Method
  • Results / Findings
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions & Recommendation
  • Appendices

Tip: make sure you include lots of visuals to make your findings digestible and engaging.

8) Communicate Findings

Once your report has passed through the final round of editing, you can start distributing it to the key stakeholder groups you identified earlier. There are a few ways to go about this, each with advantages and disadvantages:

  • Presentations: Presenting your findings can involve a bit of planning and preparation, but it’s a highly engaging and interactive approach.
  • Summaries: Sending summaries via email is a concise, digestible way to get the main points across, but you risk sacrificing details.
  • Reports: Sending the full report via email is an option, too. This is the most reliable way to share our findings, but will probably require the most time commitment on the part of stakeholders. If you’re using an LMS like Academy of Mine, you can create custom reports that do the hard work for you. So, at the end of the month (or whenever your reporting interim is) you can just send a URL to the report to stakeholders for viewing.

9) Use Results to Make Informed Decisions

Now, it’s time to apply the results of your training evaluation.

Your report will have included a series of recommendations. Your job is now to work with company leaders to prioritize. In an ideal world, you’d implement every recommendation overnight. Sadly, resource and time constraints usually get in the way. Create an effort-impact matrix to prioritize quick fixes that will have the most impact for the least effort.

Second, you want to implement changes. Decide who’s responsible for making each recommendation become a reality. Consider training additional team members, if necessary.

Lastly, monitor your changes over time. Training is an ongoing effort, just like evaluations! After implementation, monitor the effectiveness of your changes to make sure they meet expectations. Adjust as needed, or consider a full review later on.

Make Training Evaluation a Priority

That’s it, you’ve successfully completed a training evaluation! You’re now reaping even more rewards from your investments in employee training, upskilling, and re-skilling.

At Academy of Mine, we arm businesses with a suite of tools for managing professional training programs. To learn more about using AOM for training evaluation, we'd be happy to show you on call!!

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