“True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information”
– Winston Churchill
Conducting training programs without measuring how effective they actually are is like shooting in the dark. When you chart out a specific training program that must achieve a set of desired goals, it is important to go back and monitor as to how far it has delivered in reality. It is quite possible that your employees aren’t receiving the training very positively, or an intended course is not adding anything to what skills they need. Benchmarking is a good practice to avoid and/or correct such situations and to estimate your return on investment (ROI) on learning, and increase it henceforth.
Donald Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluating training provide a useful framework to set benchmarks. The four levels can be used as follows:
Measuring how much learners feel contented with the learning program and material. Try to take their opinion about how the training program could be improved, what could be the alternative way of teaching a particular skill, etc. Unless your employees like what they are being taught, they will not put much effort into it. Period.
Level 2: Learning
You must measure the real learning that has taken place. For example, setting targets to achieve certain technical skills and assessing them later on to find out how much was retained. You must have a clear understanding of your goals to be able to steer your training program accordingly.
Level 3: Behavior
Though this is not easy to measure, efforts must be made to find out the qualitative (if not quantitative) difference in the behavior of employees. Are they more confident about their jobs? Are there lesser errors? Observations at work, 360 degree feedback and assessments designed around specific job scenarios can be very helpful in measuring post-learning behavior.
Level 4: Results
You must benchmark from the very beginning the results you want to achieve by the end of a particular training program. Are you training your accountants and financial reporting managers to reduce errors in reporting to 5 per cent? Defining goals like these help you identify how far the training has delivered at the end of the program.
Benchmarking plays the role of an eye-opener. It allows you to gauge the effectiveness, efficiency and outcome of your training strategy and develop further plans of action.