The Value of Post-Training Feedback – A Tumbleweed Tale

I read a lovely tweet earlier: “Please do not confuse absence of feedback as a sign of satisfaction. Indifference is awfully quiet and the true enemy.” I’m afraid I don’t know where the quote originated, but the tweet really resonated with me and closely reflects a discussion that has been ongoing in our office over the last few months.

Staying Strong When Pressure To Deliver Intensifies

Our training team is creaking under an ever increasing influx of training requests. Despite having an agreed process in place for the delivery of all new training programs, chunks of this process and sometimes the whole damn thing is bypassed completely when the pressure to deliver intensifies. Maybe this is a reflection of having limited resources, a flawed process or poor process management? But whatever the reason, it is an issue that I have seen in several companies. So this is something that I’m keen to explore further and something that my team will need to discuss until a simple, workable solution is found.

Identifying the Break Down

Let’s start by looking at the learning model that we currently use and identify where it breaks down. (I don’t want to get into a debate about learning models – I think that they all have their place when implemented correctly).

Analysis – Design – Development – Implementation – Evaluation

It is widely recognized thatthe ADDIE model (Analysis – Design – Development – Implementation – Evaluation) can be an effective process to follow when used correctly. This also happens to be the process with which I have had the most success and as the old adage goes – if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. In my experience, the Analysis and Evaluation are the first parts of the process to be forgotten about when the training requests come rolling in – and ADDIE can quickly go a bit 3D (design, development and delivery – see what I did there?)

Feedback After Training

But let’s ignore the analysis part of the process for now (you can see some thoughts I have about that here). Let’s go back to the quote at the beginning of this post to focus on the feedback. Or lack of it. Working primarily with online learning these days, I consider myself fortunate that gathering immediate feedback after the course and results from assessments before, during and after the course is much easier than it can be in the classroom. As LMS administrators, we can even limit the ability for a learner to ‘complete’ the course until they have provided the required feedback and desired assessment results. We can then use this information to measure whether the training has been successful. Easy.

However, gathering feedback and undertaking assessment at the end of a classroom based training session can be much more difficult. Maybe you can do a short evaluation at the end of the course (‘happy sheets’ as a ex-colleague of mine calls them) which will provide some immediate feedback as to whether the learner enjoyed the course, whether the training was what they expected etc. But more rigorous assessment can be difficult to implement once the learners have left the building and this often requires the use of some form of repeat session or online platform to capture and gather this data.

Let’s Face It Folks!

Let’s face it, when delivering a last minute training session, it’s hard enough to ensure attendance let alone implementing a follow-up session to assess the value of the training. We can quite easily see how the evaluation part of the training model can be lost under a pile of happy sheets.

But I don’t want to get into an argument about how to evaluate the success of training, the whole reason for this blog post was to highlight that a lack of feedback doesn’t necessarily mean that the training was well-received and effective. So what can we do? If we’re not getting any feedback, or if we aren’t implementing assessment weeks or months after the training, we need to look in the mirror and make sure that we aren’t wearing our rose-tinted spectacles – there is a distinct possibility that our training is not as effective as we would like to imagine.

No Better Time Than The Present

There’s no better time than the present to take stock and check if you’ve gone a bit 3D too! Do you work within a team of learning and development professionals? Which techniques to use to ensure that the evaluation and assessment parts of the training process are implemented with as much energy as the other parts? I would be delighted to hear your responses!