“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” ― Henry Ford
One of the greatest challenges confronting learning and development professionals and by extension, organisations at large is how to isolate the effect of training programmes. Training is not an end in itself but a means to an end.
The end of training is learning, and proof of learning is a change in behaviour. While learning and development professionals strive to complete their employee training hours to earn great performance appraisal scores, line managers marvel at how the perceived performance of the Training Department does not cascade to departmental performance. The behaviour of employees to a large extent remains unaltered after training programmes and this remains one of the greatest dilemma of training.
How then do we push the frontiers of training from the classroom to the workplace? How do we design and deploy training programmes targeted at altering employee behaviour on-the-job, and how do we track such changes?
The five step process below helps isolate the effect of training programmes;
- Identify Desired Behavioural Changes: The first step is to systematically identify the specific gaps to be addressed by the training programme, and document definite behaviours that would underscore learning. The most critical stakeholder to delineate desired behaviours is the line manager, as he is the one who would monitor the employee behaviour post-training.
- Tie Desired Behaviours to Training Curriculum: Every desired behaviour to be addressed by the training programme must be carefully tied to the training curriculum.
- Adapt the Training Material/Methodology to the Culture of the Organisation: Training like every other aspect of human resources does not occur in a vacuum but in the context of the culture of the organisation where it takes place. The culture of an organisation plays a determinant role in deciding the learning styles of the participants, and the instructional system design. A deep understanding of adult learning principles and cultural dimensions could help in this area.
- Track Using Control Groups: Control group is a simple but powerful technique to confirm that the behavioural change observed in employees who partook in a training programme is not by mere happenstance. It involves evaluating the behaviour of those who partook in the training against those who did not, so as to isolate the specific effect of the training programme.
How training effects would be isolated, must be planned from the start using a proactive rather than reactive approach. You can only know what does not work if you can isolate what works.
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