Why training fails… or does it?

I read that ASTD (or The American Society for Training and Development) Benchmarking Forum conducted a study to determine what percentage each of Kirkpatrick’s four levels of learning are used in organizations when deciding if training is effective. Their study found:

• An overwhelming number evaluated the participant reaction to the training. You know those “on a scale of 1 to 5” surveys you get as you’re leaving. A full 95% used this Level 1 evaluation.

• Now, this drops significantly to only 37% when we are talking about evaluating ACTUAL learning that has taken place. This is Kirkpatrick’s Level 2 evaluation of training. When we were kids it would have been called a test, now that we are adults the preferred term is “assessment.”

• I was a little disappointed BUT not shocked to learn a mere 13% used Level 3 evaluations and actually measured the changes in behavior that resulted from the training. This is looking at who in a training class actually created new habits based on what they learned – incorporating the new ideas into their daily actions.

• Now Kirkpatrick’s Level 4 is to look at the results that occur from training. ONLY 3% of organizations go all the way to try and time training directly to improvement in results. Yup you heard me right only 3% evaluated results.

dreamstimefree_70149I’m here to share with you; this isn’t the fault of sales trainers or sales training in general. Instead I’d like to introduce you to an idea developed by Dr. Hannah Rudstam of Cornell University, School of Industrial & Labor Relations, back in 2005. Then I’m going to change the question…

It is simply called the can’t – won’t – don’t know how model

Can’t – is when there is an individual or organizational block that is stopping someone from changing their behavior.
Won’t – indicates an unwillingness or inability to perform.
Don’t Know How – means the individual don’t have the skills or knowledge necessary to perform the task successfully.

The only one of those that is address by TRAINING is Don’t Know How. Which is what is measured by Kirkpatrick’s Levels 1 (reaction) & 2 (learning).

Levels 3 (behavior) & 4 (results) both fall under discussions and measurements around Can’t or Won’t in the model.

If you find the reason for behavior change is around a Can’t; if it is the individual the need to be removed from the position (either to another role inside the organization or out of it completely). If it is the organization stopping people from getting to the results you want, the organization has to change.

When dealing with a Won’t is where coaching comes in. Look back to a time in your life when you knew what to do, but you weren’t doing it. Ask these three questions:
1. Were your old habits easier to fall back on, even if you weren’t getting the results you wanted?
2. Was the behavior change so far outside your regular ways that you gave up because it was too hard?
3. Although you knew it would help, the first few times you attempted the new concept it was really uncomfortable?

Having a coach work with you to move through, past, and around the obstacles you create for yourself is how to get over a Won’t.

Why do training programs fail to deliver behavior & results?
Because behavior & results are NOT what they are designed to do. The training piece only addresses the Don’t Know How and reaction & learning would measure the program’s success.

Bob Nicols Founder AXIOM Sales Force Development, Inc. quoted Sales Training has a 90% Failure Rate in a recent blog post, when looking at delivering behavior change and results.

An organizations failure to build on the new skills and knowledge is MORE about having no follow through after the training than it is about not measuring.

When talking with my colleague Mike Kunkle, who is the Director of Product Development for Richardson, he said “But getting them engaged typically requires changing their focus, changing rewards and/or performance management, and top-down support.”

Which makes me wonder not why people continue to spend money on training, but why they aren’t spending resources on combining training with coaching PLUS incenting the front line managers to consistently reinforce the new skills and knowledge.

Ok enough of a rant for the day. What do you think?

image from © Dan Wallace | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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