Most training surveys should be blown up…!

You know, those after-course (or session) evaluations where the trainer/facilitator asks, “Did you love me?” “Was I fantastic, or what?” “Didn’t we have a great time?”

As many of my stories begin, “I once had this client…” who wanted much more than simple smile sheets or after-course “how was the hotel” evaluations. They wanted data demonstrating the success (or not!) of the efforts. They actually wanted to know if we changed any behaviors or not! How cutting-edge is that??

Well, we did exactly that, and this will be the baseline for all future surveys I conduct. So, my advice to fellow facilitators/consultants/trainers?

1. It’s not about you. Still asking “How was your trainer?” “Did the trainer keep your interest?” “Did you start and stop on time?” STOP IT! No one really cares, except you, about these things. Clients (applies whether internal or external) care about results, not process. If you simply MUST ask about yourself, do it once, make it count, then move on to things important.

In the client mentioned above, we took much of the entire leadership team through a series of sessions, reinforced by online learning, mentoring, and even some individual coaching. They – senior leadership – didn’t want to know if those participants LIKED me; they wanted to know if they applied what we learned, and that the application made a difference.

Level I evaluation is out. Levels II doesn’t say much. Levels III, and IV make the difference. Level V (for those who think that way) will come later…

2. They don’t care about the gloss. It’s not the materials, it’s the impact. Don’t ask about the quality, shine, or smell of your handouts, workbooks, or participant guides. Ask how the material you covered FROM those things has been or will be APPLIED. You can put lipstick on a pig… it’s still a pig.

Make sure the feedback is genuine. We must – MUST – stop seeking accolades, and START seeking actionable information. Training costs real money – we should be stewards of that.

3. Little sizzle, lots of steak! Provide the results – summarized – in readable format. Not just columnar format of question/response/number responding. Pie charts, graphs, visual pictures of how these things tied together… this is what matters. Unused data is worthless; better to have data that others can and will use frequently.

And don’t forget – any effort like this requires some trial and error, and input from many. Before and after snapshots can help show “change,” as well as provide available business measurements.

But that’s just me…


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