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Training is big business. It costs money and time, both of which are covered mostly by the employer, and only sometimes by the employee. Some organisations spend as much as 2% of their annual payroll on training; that is the equivalent of an extra week's pay for everyone.
Participating in training is also a big ask - people are expected to get out of their comfort zone and go into a programme where they may feel under-prepared and under pressure. Many people have had bad prior learning experiences and find it all a bit hard. Charging them up to participate and learn often requires a very well made programme.
So, why do organisations fund time and money for training? The reason is pretty obvious - it is to change what people do at work. And why do that? To improve the outcomes for the organisation.
There is a logical connection that links training and learning to changed practices at work and to improved organisation outcomes, and there is another link between how well learners engage and how well they learn.
The Kirkpatrick® tools and methods make these connections real in both the design and review of programmes. In the design phase there are four key questions to answer in order to get the connections right:
As programmes roll out, and afterwards, review needs to focus on checking that the programme is delivering in each of these four areas:
This is not rocket science; in fact it all seems very easy, doesn't it? Yeah right.
Many learning programmes fail to deliver any benefits at all at work. Learners often come back to work from a programme and resume right where they left off; no changes to skills or behaviours and no expectation from others that there will be. The learning effort has been wasted. Why is that?
When programmes fail to deliver change at work it is usually (but not always) because the connection beween what is learned and how it is applied as new skills or behaviours at work is broken. Application depends on useful tools and methods being learned and on support at work to apply them. That support is critical and is commonly just not there - coach/manager involvement, a change-friendly workplace environment, and time to plan, carry out, review and evaluate application efforts; all are crucial contributors to successful application of new skills and behaviours at work.
Other reasons for programme failures to deliver can be:
If your learning programmes are not moving your organisation forward in the way that you want, then you need to help to stop the waste that is occurring, and get a better return on your training and learning investment.
ODI's principals are Kirkpatrick® Certified and can help you design programmes that make a difference at work, and gather the evidence that they do.