In times when every penny counts, there is more demand on training managers to “prove” that training has paid off. Most organizations follow Kirkpatrick’s 4 Levels of Evaluation:
- The immediate feedback: The smiley sheets at the end of the training program where participants respond to questions on trainer, training materials, facilities and other aspects of the training
- Improvement in knowledge: This measures to what degree training has improved the conceptual knowledge of the participants
- Applications at work: The measure the degree to which the training is being applied at work. Has behavior changed due to training?
- Improvement in business: This measures the impact of training in terms of numbers meaningful for business—cost benefit analysis—was the cost of training worth it? Did the quality improve? Did the time taken to do a job reduce? What is the Return on Investment (ROI)? ROI is sometimes considered as the 5th level of evaluation.
However, for some metrics maintaining data is not very difficult. For example, the errors committed during a process, the time taken to complete the process, quality measures, absenteeism records, reporting late, and so on are easily measurable. Depending on the technology implemented in the companies, these data can be maintained through automated systems. Otherwise they have to be maintained “manually” updating databases in excel, access or any other system that the company may have. In any case, such data are not very difficult to maintain, if it is done then and there. Data on soft skills, however, like communication, leadership, interpersonal skills is very difficult to maintain, but once there are metrics defined for these, it would not be very difficult.
So who should be responsible for maintaining data?
- Line Managers and Supervisors: As a practice, the line managers need to maintain data on the employees. What kind of data? That depends on the job that the line does. Can all data be maintained? Yes. It can. Data on quality, absenteeism, late coming, time taken to do complete work, etc, are the responsibility of the line managers. Line managers can also maintain data on behaviors of employees.
- The HR Managers: The HR managers need to get their databases updated as a routine. In companies that do not have integrated computer systems/ERP and similar systems, this can be challenging. However, the HR managers need to have a constant input of data from the departments and business units.
- Leaders: What kind of data would senior leaders need? They need to keep departmental data, in terms of performance- profit and loss, expenditure, customer satisfaction, etc. Most of the times data is collected and analyzed at the end of a quarter. However, it would be a good practice to even do this monthly, so data is recent, reviewed and mistakes avoided.
- Employees themselves: Employees need to maintain their own data. This is important for anyone who is interested in his/ her development and performance. Individual data would mean the attendance records, tardy records, training records, and so on.
- Training Managers: Yes, training managers need to maintain relevant data. They need to have data on the important metrics of each of the business units they are involved in training.
It is the responsibility of the training managers to design appropriate forms and systems that can be used by the business units to maintain data. Many times, the business units/ departments may not know how or where to keep the data. Even if they do design a system, there may be variation from department to department. So it would be a good idea for the training department to standardize data collection procedures.
Training managers need to communicate the need for maintaining data. The training managers should communicate the need for data to do any kind of training evaluation. They need to communicate the following (may be conduct training) on the following:
- Need to maintain data
- Kind of data that needs to be maintained
- Responsibility of maintaining the data
- Explanation of the forms that need to be filled for maintaining data and the need for uniformity across the departments
- The manner and time in which the training managers would communicate the evaluation results to the departments