Training Strategy Mistake #5: Providing Stakeholders with Flimsy Evidence of Value

February 25, 2015

You’ve done all the work to prepare for and deliver a valuable training program, and to ensure on-the-job application afterwards. Now how do you present the results to your stakeholders in a way that will demonstrate the true business value of these efforts?

Out of over 1,000 survey respondents, 53% thought that a balanced report of data at all four levels should be presented to stakeholders because all levels are equally important. A very small percentage (1%) of you sided with focusing on Levels 1 and 2, where training is the focus.

Our recommendation and the correct response is to focus on Levels 3 and 4, which are most important to stakeholders. Forty-four percent of you are with us in this thinking.

Our simplest advice is to remember that just because you have the data doesn’t mean that you should present it. Consider what your stakeholders want to hear, and don’t overwhelm and confuse them with extraneous information. Pare what you have down to the details that will make the best business case for your efforts.

So what data do your stakeholders really want to hear? Most likely not a detailed report of responses to every question on your smile sheet. Think instead about presenting data related to on-the-job performance and leading indicators of ultimate program success. Also, don’t be afraid to report barriers to success, but be sure to have a plan in place for overcoming them. Click here for a list of the types of information that one senior business leader said she would prefer. In many cases, you can simply ask your stakeholders what metrics they would like to see, but so often, training professionals don’t do this.

While we don’t advocate presenting a balanced report of data from all four levels, we do suggest presenting the connections between the four levels as a chain of evidence. Present only the most important summary information at Levels 1 and 2, and then show how those efforts led to the Levels 3 and 4 results that will serve as the focus of your presentation.

Finally, in your presentation, give credit where credit is due. As we covered in last week’s quick tip, it is a mistake to attempt to isolate the impact of formal training on results. If you have followed our previous suggestions, a number of people likely have contributed to the results you have achieved, such as the supervisors of program attendees who have supported them and held them accountable for what they learned during training. Do not leave out the efforts of these critical contributors.

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