Training effectiveness has been the challenge for corporate training for long time. Kirkpatrick’s four levels have dominated the training evaluation discussion since it was first published in 1959. Recent findings show the bottleneck for training effectiveness is between Level Two and Level Three. Which means learner may not apply their learning even they have learning from the training. Without application, the training has no impact on business results, which are the fundamental goal for corporate’s investment in training.
Doctor Brinkhoff surveyed 100,000 people who attached training, and found out that less than 15% of them have applied their learning and have achieved concrete and valuable results; more than 85% of them either have not tried the learning at all, or have tried a bit, but met troubles, and went back to old methods.
The training transfer matrix by Broad & Newstrom shows the participant’s manager is the one that has the biggest impact on participant’s learning transfer after the training. This finding is different from what has been normally agreed that the trainer or the learner should be held responsible if there is no training transfer.
To validate the findings from the Training Transfer Matrix are also valid in Saint-Gobain China, the company that I am working in, so that I can have the first hand data and information to promot manager’s involvement before and after the training to improve training application, so that the training’s contribution to final business result will be realized. One key management program has been chosen for this Action Research.
Through introducing to the participant’s manager what an important role that they play, the manager was asked to have the right communication with the participant before and after the training. Considering that they don’t know the training content most probably, they may be discouraged to have the pre- and post- communication with their participant; related tools have been designed to facilitate their work so that the expected results will be achieved.
To evaluate if the manager’s involvement before and after the training have reached the expected results, two rounds of surveys have been conducted respectively in 2009 and 2011. The surveys were sent to the participants and their managers. The survey is to find out if the manager has conducted the pre- and post- training talk, and if the participants have applied their learning and have achieved concrete and valuable results at work. The results of both rounds of surveys show much better results than the Dr. Brinkhoff’s data, which I have used as the benchmark.
This Action Research lasted 4 year, more than 330 participants and 85 managers were involved. The findings have validated that in Saint-Gobain China, the manager’s involvement before and after the training has positive impact on participant’s learning application after training, and hence contributes to the business results and realizes the training final effectiveness to business results.
KEY WORDS: Training Effectiveness, Training Effectiveness Evaluation; Training Application; Training Transfer Matrix
1.1 The research focus and questions
With the literature review about different training effectiveness evaluations, the KirkPatrick’s 4 levels of evalution of training effectiveness has been found to be the most relevant to the author’s organization. Based on this training effectiveness evalution model, the author learnt that chanllenge for training effectiveness is from the transfer from the 2nd level to the 3rd level which is from the knowledge level to the application level. With this new finding, the author conducted further literature review about training transfer, and have found that there are three key stakeholders who affect the training transfer at three different stages of the learning: before, during and after; and the manager is the most impactful stakeholder for training transfer at both the pre-training and post-training stages.
The focus of this study is to validate that the manager does have the highest impact in participant’s training transfer in our company, so that managers of the participants understand this and involve themselves before and after the training with the right engagement actions to drive training at the application level (Level 3), and hence to leade to Level 4 business results and maxize overall training effectiveness.
This study will answer the following research questions:
1. What can help managers to fulfill their roles in maximizing the training effectiveness, given the fact that they may not know the important role that they can play and they may not know the training content?
2. With the tools, after being communicated of their important roles, have the managers exert their important influences, have their subordinates applied the learning when they go back to work? If this works well in Saint-Gobain Environment?
I would like to use this training transfer matrix to validate if participant’s manager is the most influencial party to impact the training effectiveness in Saint-Gobain China, the company that I am working with, and also validate the tools and solutions for managers to exert their important role in maximizing the training contribution to business.
Action research methodology will be used to verify the findings with one key program from Saint-Gobain China. This program targets all our junior and middle level managers of about 800 of them. The programs started f