The Dangers of Isolating Training Impact
It is very tempting to want to isolate the impact of training on high-level organizational results or isolate the impact of any component, for that matter. The reality is that isolation is impossible, or so difficult to accomplish that the resources employed to complete the calculation become questionable. The results of such a calculation are also non-productive.
Diederick Stoel, a colleague in Amsterdam, says, “Those who seek to isolate will isolate themselves.” We concur.
Here is an everyday example that illustrates this point. Let’s say that your doctor has advised that you will have a longer and healthier life if you lose 25 pounds. You decide to follow the advice, and embark on a diet and exercise plan including the following factors:
- Working with a personal trainer to create a fitness plan
- Exercising for 30 minutes per day, six days per week
- Following a nutritionist-prescribed diet plan
- Drinking 64 ounces of water each day
- Sleeping eight hours per night
You diligently follow the plan, and you are successful in dropping 25 pounds!
Now, suppose the personal trainer wanted to take credit for the majority of your weight loss due to the excellent fitness plan he created for you 90 days ago. As the person who worked hard for three months, you might be offended by this attempt. Your point of view would likely be that your hard work and adherence to all five factors created your success.
Apply this metaphor to training as part of a large organizational initiative. Let’s say it’s a leadership program aimed at reducing cycle time to increase revenue through training, mentoring, role-modeling and increased reporting. Attempting to isolate the impact of the formal training class at the start of the initiative is basically discounting and disrespecting the contributions of other factors.
It is like saying:
- “Managers who meet with supervisors to encourage and guide them, you don’t count.”
- “Leaders who hold direct reports accountable for behavior change, you don’t count, either.”
- “Training participants who continue their education with self-directed learning on the job, sorry, we’re not accounting for that in our report.”
- “All of you who go out of your way to help the person next to you when things get tough, we’re factoring you out of this calculation.”
These are not the messages you want to send to your organization and to everyone who contributed to the initiative. Instead of seeking to isolate the impact of your training, gather data on all of the factors that contributed to the success of the initiative, and give credit where credit is due. This way, your role is not simply to deliver training but to create and facilitate organizational success. This makes you a strategic business partner who contributes to your organization’s competitive advantage.
If you are uncertain as to how to do this, read our latest book, Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation, or take the Kirkpatrick bronze level certification program. Here is one of our most popular articles, it provides a bit more detail as well.
Being a strategic business partner makes you an indispensable part of a performance and results team. Other departments will seek you out and request your involvement in important initiatives. Soon, you will have a seat at the table and a voice in the most important projects your company plans and launches.