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Measuring the impact of training

More and more we are asked to demonstrate the value of our training - particularly at the early stages in a client relationship . Organisations are obviously focusing on the payback of investment in training and rightly so. The interesting challenge for us is that whilst we can agree measures at the start of a project with a client, and always gather feedback at the end of each programme, we are heavily reliant on the client to measure the longer term impact of what we do.

The other interesting challenge for us is that the degree to which we are put through our paces during the sales stage with new clients with regard to return on investment does not always match the level of interest that clients have once the training has been delivered. This is understandable - it takes time and effort to measure the impact of training. A few years ago we carried out a small piece of research amongst our clients and found that many organisations had made a conscious decision not to evaluate training because it took too much resource.

However, we do have clients who do evaluate training very effectively. One of our key clients uses a simple questionnaire to gather data from line managers and participants at three month intervals post programmes. The questionnaire asks managers a range of questions such as the extent to which they have seen a noticeable change in the team member’s way of working. They also ask them to rate the team member’s capability before and after the training programme. There is a separate questionnaire for participants which asks them what they are doing as a result of the programme. They are also asked to rate the benefit of attending the programme in terms of value for money.

Whilst simple and straightforward, this approach delivers valuable data. Comments that respondents add are very useful as they provide specific information about what they are doing as a direct result of the training. They also identify organisational issues that help or hinder the transfer of learning - such as the level of support from line managers or current climate within the organisation.