Category Archives: Training Effectiveness

5 Reasons We Shouldn’t Bury Instructor Led Training (ILT) just yet

It has become a very popular hobby among L&D professionals to bash Instructor Led Training (ILT) at the profit of social learning, self paced learning or even individual coaching.

There is no doubt that new technology based forms of learning are great in the way that they allow learners to use new interfaces that sometimes fit their learning style and lifestyle  better. There is also no doubt that coaching is an extremely powerful, highly personalised development approach.However, this does not mean that our ancient ILT was never effective or “just doesn’t work for digital natives”(sic) or “goes against adult learning principles.”(sic)

When I read or hear this, I really wonder what kind of ILT people have been attending or have been facilitating. If done properly, ILT can be a very effective part of someone’s development.

1. ILT allow participants to share experiences with one another with someone to facilitate the exchange and help them debrief these experiences in order to identify learning points. They can also sometimes learn by listening someone else’s question, and subsequent discussion,that they had not thought of.

2. ILT allow participants to confront their perspective to others. Someone from the HR function might discuss empathy very differently than someone from Information Security and they will both build a better understanding of the business by being exposed to each others perspective.

3. Being exposed to different perspectives and mental models also builds can also be a good way to build acceptance of diversity of others but also assertiveness when debating with people with different opinions.

4. ILT are a great place to network. Participants often get a chance to meet colleagues they would never meet otherwise or meet peers from other organizations.

5. ILT can also be a good occasion for intact teams to step back from every day operations and spend time together developing skills that will enable the team to work better.

So, is ILT only way to develop new skills? No.

Are technology based learning systems useful? Yes.

Are other forms of development like coaching, group process facilitation and mentoring also useful? Yes.

The only thing I hope the L&D community moves away from is the either/or mentality. Effective development initiatives are the ones that understand how to blend different  methods in order to achieve real development.

Post by Guillaume Gevrey – Director & Principal Consultant C2C

Starting With The End In Mind

end in mind

We, the members of the training fraternity, have often been treated as ‘Training Order-takers’. We are invited for meetings with business and told – this is the training need, this many people need to be trained, by this date. That’s it. End of order. We are expected to design a program that will be fun and informative and suddenly people will start behaving differently.

What we don’t know at this point is – what is the need for the training. What result is expected as a result of people undergoing this training? The result may not necessarily be monetary, it could be improved customer satisfaction, enhanced efficiency at work, employee satisfaction through performing their jobs in a simple manner or anything at all relevant to the organization. That’s why speaking of Return on Expectations and not only of Return on Investment, makes better sense.

It is incumbent on us as performance consultants to dig deep and find out from business what exactly this ‘Big flag at the top of the mountain’ is. What is it that they want to achieve as a result of the program? That is the end result we need to work towards.

With that end in mind, we need to do further analysis of the need to figure out what behaviors need to change in order to achieve the desired result. The more clarity we have with regard to the end result, the more focused our training design can be to achieve the desired result.

This approach is particularly useful for mission critical programs that can truly help the business if successful or end up causing incredible damage is they fail to achieve the result.

Having said all this, we also need to keep in mind that not all programs run in an organization are mission critical programs. Does that mean that we ignore the result for these programs? Does it mean it is okay to take orders for these programs and run them since that’s what the business needs?

As conscientious members of the team, it is still imperative that we find out what is prompting the need for a particular program and design accordingly. It may be a highly generic program on communication skills that every manager in the organization needs to attend. We can still have discussions with business heads and find out why exactly the idea for this program came up. Was it something that come up during the performance appraisal cycle, or something that a lot of people requested for, or a gut feeling from someone that we need to improve our communication skills! Whatever the reasoning may be, there is some reasoning involved and we need to unearth that.

Knowing the result expected from a program will help us show ‘Return on Expectation’ – Business expected X result and we have been able to provide X result. We have little indicators along the way that show us whether we are reaching the desired result or not. These indicators help us make changes/adjustments to the program to finally reach the desired result.

The idea is not to fly blind or design program with our blinkers on. The idea is know exactly where we want to get to and make constant checks to see if we are heading in the right direction.

Post by Preethi Rao – C2C Training Effectiveness Specialist and Certified Kirkpatrick Facilitator

People don’t learn from experience; they learn from reflecting on their experience.

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I am a firm believer that activities alone are not enough for most training participants to extract meaningful learning that they can then apply to the real world. In my view, activities are are just an excuse for a good debriefing discussion, not the other way around. This is why when our clients ask us whether their participants will play games, my answer is always “No, but they will participate in experiential activities from which they will be able to extract learning.”

Personally, I still think that Thiagis 6 phases of Debriefing is the best way to structure this eminently important aspect of effective training. Here are the 6 phases below

Phase 1: How Do You Feel?

This phase gives the participants an opportunity to get strong feelings and emotion off their chest. It makes it easier for them to be more objective during the later phases.

Begin this phase with a broad question that invites the participants to get in touch with their feelings about the activity and its outcomes. Encourage them to share these feelings, listening actively to one another in a nonjudgmental fashion.

Phase 2: What Happened?

In this phase, collect data about what happened during the activity. Encourage the participants to compare and contrast their recollections and to draw general conclusions during the next phase.

Begin this phase with a broad question that asks the participants to recall important events from the training activity. Create and post a chronological list of events. Ask questions about specific events.

Phase 3: What Did You Learn?

In this phase, encourage the participants to generate and test different hypotheses. Ask the participants to come up with principles based on the activity and discuss them.

Begin this phase by presenting a principle and asking the participants for data that supports or rejects it. Then invite the participants to offer other principles based on their experiences.

Phase 4: How Does This Relate To The Real World?

In this phase, discuss the relevance of the activity to the participants’ real-world experiences.

Begin with a broad question about the relationship between the experiential learning activity and events in the workplace. Suggest that the activity is a metaphor and ask participants to offer real-world analogies.

Phase 5: What If?

In this phase, encourage the participants to apply their insights to new contexts. Use alternative scenarios to speculate on how people’s behaviors would change.

Begin this phase with a change scenario and ask the participants to speculate on how it would have affected the process and the outcomes of the activity. Then invite the participants to offer their own scenarios and discuss them.

Phase 6: What Next?

In this phase, ask the participants to undertake action planning. Ask them to apply their insights from the experiential activity to the real world.

Begin this phase by asking the participants to suggest strategies for use in future rounds of the activity. Then ask the participants how they will change their real-world behavior as a result of the insights gained from the activity.

Honestly, anyone with decent presentation skills and a bit of common sense can conduct a training program, and give participants a good time but that has never made it a relevant learning experience. Professional trainers focus on the discussions that they facilitate for learners to extract their own learning, and that is a skill that needs to be developed over time.

Why do we end up shooting in the dark?

ImageA problem that many of us training professionals struggle with – is how to ensure that the training program we conduct actually makes a difference.

The sequence of events that usually unfolds is –

We receive the training need from operations

We ask a few basic questions to understand the specific problem

We rush of to design and then deliver the training program

Once the program is done we don’t really know if we were effective since we didn’t know what the actual issue was to begin with.

In other words we end up shooting in the dark.

In order to make sure that we know we have done an effective job every single time we conduct a training program, it is necessary to have a detailed dialogue with the operations team and understand their requirements.

To evaluate Level 3 behaviors, it’s necessary to begin with the end in mind. Probe to find out the one or two key behaviors that the stakeholders would like to see change. For e.g. Critical Behaviors for a presentation skills program may be ‘The participants can manage time during the presentation’ ‘The participants can handle questions while staying within the framework of the topic’

It is important to restrict the number of critical behaviors to a maximum of 3 per program.  Too many critical behaviors will dilute the focus and participants will be unable to concentrate.

We should also ensure that there is a support system in place to aid the participants in demonstrating the critical behaviors on an on-going basis. In the presentation skills example, one of the supporting measures would be organizing practice presentations where the participants are observed and given feedback. This post training support should also be a part of training design.

With predefined critical behaviors and a robust support system in place, we as learning partners can ensure that the training we provide is effective and can be evaluated up to Level 3.

Post by Preethi Rao – C2C Training Effectiveness Specialist