So you trained a bunch of people in your company but you don’t know whether it’s paying off. How can you find out?

That’s a question asked by Donald Kirkpatrick back in the 1950s. His Ph.D. thesis was on the topic of “training evaluation.” Kirkpatrick came up with a model that’s still widely used in the training field. He isolated four levels of evaluation:

  • REACTION: What did participants think of the training?
  • LEARNING: What did participants learn?
  • BEHAVIOR: Are participants using the learning productively on the job?
  • RESULTS: Did the training produce the desired result?

The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study to determine how frequently companies used each of these levels. Here’s the bad news:

  • REACTION: 96%
  • LEARNING: 37%
  • BEHAVIOR: 13%
  • RESULTS: 3%

Which means that, say, when an employee is sent to an off-site conference, 96% of the time a manager will ask, “Did you like the training?” Only 37% of the time will the manager ask “What did you learn?” And only 13% of the time will the boss actually determine whether the learning is being applied.

No surprise, companies almost never get the result they intended.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. If managers provide follow up — if they INspect what they EXpect — they can achieve the results they’d hoped for.


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