The evaluation of training courses is critical to the future success of trainers. It helps them better understand what worked and what didn’t. The more detailed the feedback, the better-shaped future courses will be to fit the needs of their trainees. According to The HR Department’s blog, there are a considerable number of reasons to put training evaluations high on the organisational priority list.
For starters, course evaluation responses can help more accurately determine the return on training beyond the numbers. They can also be extremely useful in trimming the fat from these programmes by helping trainers identify the biggest weaknesses in formatting.
“Evaluations play a considerable role in the continual improvement of L&D initiatives.”
Asking the Right Questions
The evaluation of training programmes clearly plays a considerable role in the continual improvement of L&D initiatives, but how can trainers ensure they are creating optimal evaluations for their programmes? Well, it all starts with formulating the perfect combination of questions. This is a delicate balance between the question content, setup, and volume. Here are some tips to make sure you are asking all the right questions.
Quality Over Quantity: It’s the oldest line in the book but this aphorism rings particularly true when it comes to crafting an exceptional evaluation. Trainers should put a focus on creating quality questions instead of adding a multitude of questions that don’t promise any real insight. Creators of evaluations should make sure to carefully select questions that reflect real concerns. What things do you absolutely NEED to know to improve your next training session? Don’t focus on a set number of questions; just be sure that each one of them packs a punch.
Prioritise and Rank: The formatting of an evaluation is crucial in seeing optimal outcomes. BetterEvaluation, an international educational collaborative, states that trainers prioritise questions in terms of importance. While it’s an unpleasant reality, the fact of the matter is that some respondents will get bored after the first few questions. This is why it is crucial to put your most critical questions at the top of the evaluation, as those will have the best shot at getting answered.
Avoid Yes/No Questions: If your aim is to collect insightful feedback , then a mere “yes” or “no” answer will not deliver the value you require. BetterEvaluation’s research found that yes or no questions are a lot less informative than asking the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows.’ While some respondents may elaborate on yes or no questions at their own will, it is much better to avoid these types of questions altogether and frame your queries in a way that demands a well-thought-out response.
“Striking the balance between insight and simplicity is crucial when crafting an ideal evaluation.”
Ask Realistic Questions: While yes or no questions should not be your go-to, you still want to ensure some level of simplicity in the questions you ask. The more difficult it becomes for a participant to respond, the less likely it will be that they will provide an answer. Use simple questions that dig deep enough to give you the desirable outcomes but not so deep-seated that they leave your readers feeling confused. Striking the balance between insight and simplicity is crucial when crafting an ideal evaluation.
Improving Rate of Course Evaluation Responses
Okay, so now you have the perfect questions. They are ordered based on importance, worded in a meaningful way, and they leave no room for confusion. The next big hurdle for trainers is getting responses from their trainees. Luckily, your targeted questions are setting you up for a great start.
According to SurveyGizmo, response rates can easily reach 85 percent or higher when the survey is well crafted. However, the average response rates for internal evaluations are generally cited as between 30-50 percent. So, beyond your on-target questions – how can you ensure you reach that 85 percent and steer clear of the lower figures?
- Explain the Purpose: Sometimes all your team needs to hear is exactly why this evaluation process will benefit individual employees and the organisation as a whole. Explain to your trainees that this will only help make the training process more efficient and relevant in the future. Your insights as to why this is so important can be the extra push they need to actually get that evaluation done.
- Keep It Simple: Your questions should be crafted with simplicity in mind and your actual course evaluation should be created in the same vein. Not many people are keen on answering a drawn out, overly complicated evaluation even if it benefits the future of the training organisation. Make the evaluation highly accessible – offer it online and on paper. The course evaluation response process should be as simple as possible to ensure the maximum number of respondents.
- Create with Your Audience in Mind: When creating any content, you should always keep your audience in mind, as it will dictate a significant portion of your creation. What medium best engages your team? If respondents are more digitally-inclined try to offer the evaluation online, if they are better suited for physical documents, hand out questionnaires after the training is complete. Creating your course evaluation with an eye toward your audience will help you include little things to ensure they actually get their responses in.
“The harder you make it for a participant to respond, the less likely they will.”
- Send Reminders: Your trainees are busy people and they have other priorities. That is why reminders are a crucial player in ensuring high response rates. Send out a couple of gentle reminders following the training to let your audience know you are waiting for their responses. Better yet, distribute the survey directly after training and have them fill the evaluations out immediately after the session – this will ensure it is done and avoids becoming a task for later.
- Guarantee Anonymity: Sometimes, getting course evaluation responses has less to do with a willingness to fill out the sheets and more to do with a fear of hurting trainers’ feelings. A good way to ensure responses is by guaranteeing total anonymity for these evaluations. Let your trainees know they can be completely honest and that there is no way you will know who said what. This can alleviate some of the pressure and actually result in more detailed and insightful responses.
Millions of dollars are being invested in training each year. But how are organisations measuring the effectiveness of their training, especially soft skills training like sales? At Richardson, Eileen Krantz, Vice President of Client Analytics, has discovered that some clients believe that there is just an inherent value in providing quality sales training, others are more concerned with just aligning training with the sales strategy, and some develop a comprehensive measurement strategy to isolate the financial return on their investment.