What is meant by training evaluation and feedback ?

Modern organizations place great emphasis on training. Keeping employees acquainted of the latest in technology and training them in other “people skills” such as negotiation, communication is considered extremely vital. In the face of rapidly changing technology that becomes obsolete very quickly and demanding conditions in the market, companies invest enormous time, effort and resources to provide training to their employees. In this context, it is but natural that the management would want to ensure that the training imparted is of high quality and that the training process is efficiently managed. Therefore, the process of training evaluation assumes a place that is almost equal to the training itself.

In almost all organizations, feedback forms are distributed among the participants after the training. The way the questions are framed has a lot to do with the proper evaluation of the training. The questions need to be unambiguous, precise and incisive.

The main questions in training evaluation should be centered on the following aspects. 

- Extent to which the training needs were achieved. 
- Extent to which the individual’s expectations were attained. 
- Specific information obtained through the training process 
- Probable area where the information acquired would be implemented.

Organizations, sometimes, fail to do this exercise seriously due to reasons such as lack of time or resources in the human resources department. This results in courses that are way off the expectations and requirements of the organization. This results in wasteful expenditure and the courses conducted start to lose their seriousness. Evaluation of training should, therefore, be treated as a distinct function separate from the impartation of training.

The evaluation mechanism should have its own set of people who evaluate the training programs and a clear line of authority responsible for this. Though the primary responsibility lies with the people in charge of doing the evaluation, people at all rungs of the management ladder should be involved in the evaluation process – from the senior management to the trainee who receives the training.

The evaluation process for training should be total in that all aspects and eventualities should be covered.

The steps of the training evaluation process are: 

- Identification of training needs 
- Design of courses as per the received objectives 
- Identification of people who are to attend the training course 
- Conducting the courses 
- Assessment of knowledge gained 
- Feedback from participants on the usefulness of the training program 
- Preparation of Action Plan 
- Briefing between learner and superior 
- Planning of implementation of knowledge acquired 
- Review of implementation

Central to the evaluation of the training program is the role of the trainer himself. As the conductor of the program, the trainer plays a major role. The trainer has to understand the expectation of the management, appropriately design the course content, and decide the medium of delivery (intranet presentation, DVD/CD or distance learning).

Unlike other investments, investment in training is intangible and traditional methods of calculation of returns such as Returns-on-Investment cannot be done. This is because the benefits of training, though they can be perceived, cannot be quantified. The return of training can be felt in improved customer care, better output, reduced stress level and boosted morale.

Training evaluation is a critical exercise necessary to ensure that the conduction of training does not degenerate into a routine ritual and that the entire process is accorded the seriousness it deserves. If rightly implemented, it can focus the training effort to areas that deserve fresh inputs and make valuable contributions to the organizations growth.