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Evaluation of Training–making a difference through your change in behaviour

by Chris Grose

In the last few years we have been having conversations with clients, participants and each other about how to evaluate training.  If you have attended an IMA International learning event it is likely you will have completed some monitoring on a daily basis, usually in small groups, as well as an evaluation on the final day.  We have mood-meters, participatory question and answer sessions, reflection time, and daily learning journals which lead to action planning.

The action plan is something everyone takes away at the end of our training. It is personal. It highlights what might be achievable in the coming weeks and months, with short, medium and long term actions. Participants often have a buddy to work with and they motivate each other to complete their action plans when they return to work. These action plans are so important as they support a move to behaviour change following the learning event with us.

It is this behaviour change that is so important following a learning event. Behaviour change is what managers and leaders are looking for to justify their expenditure, for example, from a learning budget. Individuals who attend our training courses wish to change their behaviour in some way through improved skills, knowledge, motivation, purpose even. 

At IMA International, we know that 99% of participants are happy with the training offered and feel they have learnt something. But we seek to go beyond this to genuine behaviour change which brings positive results to organisations. For this we return to Donald Kirkpatricks model on training evaluation which has gone through several updates and revisions. He looks at Level 1 - Reaction; are people happy with the learning event? This reaction level may well change throughout the course (and often does) for various reasons. Participants may be initially 'un-learning' which can be uncomfortable, challenging their norms and ways of working. Once they see potential for change then usually the reaction level increases dramatically.  Whatever is happening at this stage helps our facilitators, as it informs their learning and the design and possible redesign of our learning process. Level 2 has a focus on learning. Did I learn something? At IMA, we allow some time each morning for people to reflect on their previous days learning with a fresh mind. As our courses are very participatory you will often find plenty of flipcharts, diagrams and displays on the walls. To support this reflective stage participants are encouraged to conduct a gallery walk, often in pairs to aid discussion and remembering. If you were an observer, you may even hear some music as you see people walk around the gallery noting ideas and thoughts in their learning journals. 

Once people leave the training event, at IMA International, we are further from being able to influence the individual to change their behaviour. This is level 3 -behaviour change - doing something different. We have set up various processes in place to help this be successful. These include:

  • having clear fact sheets at the beginning so that people sign up to attend a course that they need
  • conducting a learning needs analysis with everyone who attends, so that training can be slightly adjusted or tailored according to the people present
  • allowing time for completing daily learning journals and subsequently using these for developing action plans
  • encouraging “buddying” with someone else on the course. Both “buddies” support each other after the training, typically asking questions about how action plans are going and motivating if stuck
  • hree months after the course a call and / or email is made to find out how action plans are going and mentoring, coaching, or simply motivation provided to encourage change in behaviour
  • testimonials maybe shared of those that are able to demonstrate a behaviour change

The fourth level is about results. Did the training lead to not only a positive reaction, some learning, a change in behaviour, but that that change in behaviour led to a shift in the results of the organisation - maybe an improved monitoring or knowledge sharing process used by others, or a team that outperformed others and changed the way leadership is developed within an organisation.

All of this is so important and feeds into IMA International's purpose of developing the potential of development professionals to make a difference (behaviour change) to the people they serve.  So in the coming months we will be contacting our alumni who have attended both open courses and tailor-made (in-house) courses and asking questions around behaviour change and organisational results. We want to keep asking the question so that training doesn't just stop at being a nice event where you learnt something. We want to know you also did something differently.

For more on Developing Relationships, Building Trust and Embracing Innovation please talk to us at +44 1273 833030 Or feel free to Skype me on: chris-grose