Principle 5. A compelling chain of evidence demonstrates your bottom-line value. At the end of the day, it is incredibly important that we are able to evaluate and demonstrate the effectiveness of our learning package to change behaviours and create business results.
Why do we need to evaluate? Well, we need to know if we can improve our learning program, whether the critical few behaviours that will improve performance are in fact happening on the job and of course are we able to demonstrate the results back to our stakeholders in a credible way? For this we need to gain both quantitative and qualitative data across all four levels. How did our participants react to any learning (level 1), did they learn what was intended and aligned to the behaviours expected on the job (level 2), did they then do what we expected of them on the job (level 3) and did we achieve the results that our stakeholders were expecting (level 4). If we have been monitoring and adjusting our approach, we should be able to demonstrate a clear alignment between each of the levels collecting data that is useful to us to alter any learning component and credible to our stakeholders. In demonstrating the value of the learning, we are not trying to isolate it but to recognise the efforts of all involved. It’s highly likely that the greatest contribution will come from the effort of the participant and their manager guided by the support package that L&D has hopefully been the architects of.
In the latest Kirkpatrick book Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation (James D and Wendy Kaiser Kirkpatrick, ATD, 2016) chapter 21 is a case study we wrote relating to a coaching program for managers in a New Zealand organisation (IHC). IHC work with people with intellectual disabilities helping them to lead satisfying lives in the community. Although the program was for managers, we designed a package, based on stakeholder expectations, and were able to demonstrate the link between the four levels and how the program contributed to some very humbling outcomes improving the lives of the people IHC support. Our report met the ROE of our stakeholders and the formal learning was acknowledged as one of the contributing factors to the success, but it was only part of the story! We would not have got the outcomes we did without first starting with the end in mind, understanding the real expectations of the various stakeholders building partnerships with the organisation, creating a complete package of support and accountability and evaluating the program in a way that created a compelling story that was credible to the senior stakeholders. The five foundational principles are critical if you really want L&D to be a real partner in your organisation.