We’ve been designing and delivering professional development training for over 10 years. But how do we know if our training is leading to a behavioural change? Here’s an example, we designed and delivered a “Dealing with Difficult People” course for 12 Supervisors. These supervisors were the meat in the sandwich and were dealing with angry internal and external customers. So they’ve attended our training and the course evaluations are very high. But what does that mean? Does it mean there will be less difficult times with customers? Will they handle situations better?
Some organisation are obsessed with the measurement of training. All non-compliance training is put on hold until the organisation builds capacity to “measure” the training. Donald Kirkpatrick was the guru of measuring training. He sold a lot of books on the subject and toured the world. In his later life he suggested that measuring training was nigh on impossible. How can you possibly link a control group attending a course and achieving a behavioural change solely from that course. Unless you put the control group in a vacuum and exposed the group to no other outside variables. And of course if you put the control group in a vacuum they would suffocate.
So there you go. Our organisation has been delivering training programs for over 10 years with very little evidence that the training works. Maybe we are the modern equivalent of the snake oil salesman? Nope, that’s not correct. You see some people get an “aha” moment. The training has made a click in their brain. How do you measure it? You don’t. You pick up the signals that the training was a success. You notice that your people are a lot happier. Maybe you’ve notice that there is less sick leave. You don’t know it’s related but you have a strong suspicion that it is.
Now lots of people won’t agree that its unmeasurable. They will continue measuring ad nauseum and in the interim the training is put on hold till they keep themselves busy measuring the unmeasurable.