Get the Spaghetti Off the Wall!

There is an old cooking adage that says, if you throw the spaghetti on the wall, and it sticks, you cooked it correctly—success!  Organizations unwittingly apply the same unreliable logic to their training programs.  They throw training out at a performance issue and hope that it sticks to the wall.  They don’t know if they cooked it up quite right, and the method of evaluating it really doesn’t provide the answer.  They may find out later, or not at all, if the employees are using the new knowledge and skills.  Worse yet, they discover too late, and after a large expense, that training didn’t lead to any improvements or didn’t fix the performance problem.

At Invista, we build training programs using a scientific method, called the ADDIE model.  The first step is to analyze the issue that an organization is experiencing.  We take a consultative approach to uncover the reasons or root causes for why things are not occurring as expected.  We isolate all the possible reasons that people are not performing, and we consider training as the solution when a lack of employee knowledge and skills points us there.

In needs analysis we find the gap between desired output and current output.  In design and development, we then build and implement a training program with learning objectives that directly impact and improve those skills in question.  So we are sure that the spaghetti in the pot is exactly what your business needs to reach its goals, improve, or remedy an issue.

Another way to make sure spaghetti is not being wasted, and learning transfer happens, is to build in reinforcement learning activities.

These include some of the following methods:

1. Individual coaching or group coaching by internal managers or external coaches.

2. Post-training assignments—we can email trainees exercises, activities, or articles to read to ensure they stay engaged with their learning.

3. Post-training social learning networks—we set up a web-based blog or wiki where participants can interact about learning, and with the instructor in an on-going manner, dialoguing or responding to case studies.

4. Job Aides—these reinforce behaviors for certain kinds of tasks that are lower in frequency but higher in complexity, and subject to regular change.

If we have done our front-end analysis well, we can also evaluate our programs afterwards for effective learning transfer—are the employees effectively using on-the-job what they learned in training?  There are many effective methods for collecting data about job application (aka Kirkpatrick Level 3 Evaluations).

Here are just a few of them:

1. Interviews with trainees or the trainees’ supervisors

2. Surveys delivered to trainees or their supervisors

3. Focus Groups conducted with both groups

4. Performance reports conducted by supervisors directly observing their employees

5. Consultant direct observations of trainees performing the tasks and reporting proficiency

When is a good time to do this Level 3 evaluation?  In short, it depends on how soon you can reasonably expect and need people to be performing the skills proficiently.  Clients may wait 2-3 months before pursuing this process to build proficiency, but if the skills have to be used right away, a shorter gap is preferred.

There’s no need to waste your training dollars on ineffective training—we can guide you through the ADDIE process, including the critical step of evaluating your program effectiveness.  Let’s keep it al dente, OK?

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