What NOT to Do With Your Training Evaluation Data
When you review your training evaluation data and find that it is not altogether favorable, should you:
- Hide it, so there are no repercussions
- Change the questions so you get more favorable responses in the future
- Try on your own to understand it, and make adjustments
- None of the above
The correct response is D, none of the above.
Hopefully, it is obvious that you would not want to hide the data, or stop asking questions for which you don’t like the responses. So let’s discuss why C is also not a great answer.
Honest evaluation is accepting what the data tells you, and then acting on it to find out the whole truth. I once worked for an organization that asked me to administer an evaluation after a multi-day meeting and training event. Upon presenting the findings to the VP of Marketing who organized the event, he systematically made excuses for all low ratings, and did not consider any opportunities for future improvement. The outcome? Subsequent evaluations got fewer and fewer responses, including less and less information. He thought that meant that people were more satisfied, although nothing had actually changed. I thought otherwise.
Honest evaluation means having enough interest to ask the “second question.” Jim Kirkpatrick defined this idea a few years ago, and I think it is worth revisiting. When someone says, “It wasn’t good,” you can simply apologize and guess about how to make it better, or you can ask a second question, such as, “Tell me about that. What wasn’t good for you?”
When we ask the second question, we usually get honest feedback with enough detail that we can begin the process of identifying root causes and proposing solutions or improvements. If we attempt to make improvements without gathering more detailed data, we risk wasting resources on a “solution” that isn’t going to solve the problem.
When your evaluation data isn’t entirely positive, I hope that you will pick up the phone and call a few of your training participants, convene and informal focus group in a virtual meeting, or send out an email asking for more feedback. This does not need to be difficult or expensive to accomplish.
Join the Discussion
What challenges have you experienced when you receive less than favorable training evaluation data? How did you handle it? Share your story. Here are some ways to join the conversation:
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Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation