Is it too late to evaluate your training programme?

As the end of the year gets ever nearer, many a Learning & Development professional finds themselves trying to establish the value of their efforts. Yes, they got feedback at the time (before anyone left the actual / virtual room if they were smart) but they know that was just the initial reaction. How to find the value several weeks or months later?

Ideally, any value or ROI sought through a training / coaching course or programme would have been established before funds were committed. Stakeholders would have been involved, expectations communicated to all involved, etc. etc. At least that’s how it works in an ideal world.

But L&D people often work in a less-than-ideal world and even if all the best practice groundwork was done upfront, it can be a challenge to follow up after the event.

Having been there and having helped people get beyond the ‘happy sheet’ , I’d like to offer some practical ways to make up any lost ground and establish meaningful value after the event, without too much heavy lifting.

Case study

Ask participants to create a very brief case study. Ask clear questions to help them provide the answers you seek. What’s different? What has changed and how? What can they now do that they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do before? Make it simple and easy for people to do, for example ask them to:

  • Make a 5-minute video on their phone
  • Write a blog post
  • Deliver a short presentation

Top tip: gather trusted supporters of L&D and decide which case studies deserve a prize. One lovely Zoomly client has people present their case study to senior directors. This is a great way to motivate the participant, as they’ll be keen to look good to management. It’s also a useful way to get leaders involved. Include case studies in future programmes.

Get feedback from participants

Yes, there was the ‘happy sheet’ from the course (face to face or online); that provided the initial reaction. Asking for feedback further down the line will elicit behaviour back at the job. Invite participants to a short meeting or video call and facilitate discussion about:

  • What learning they’re applying now
  • How the course they did can be improved
  • Their advice to the next cohort to help them get the most from it

Top tip: record the discussion (clearly state it will be recorded and check people are OK with that) and use a transcribing app to create text that you can edit and include in your presentation or report.

Get feedback from others

This can be done formally or informally, depending on who you need to hear from. For example, you can:

  • Ask those who report into participants on a leadership programme for their feedback on what X is like to work for now, and what difference that makes to them
  • Ask participants’ managers for their feedback and observations in a brief conversation, face to face or on a call
  • Arrange conversations with clients (with you directly or with a colleague who works with the client contact) to get their comments and input. Having read many case studies on CPD effectiveness, clients can provide powerful testimony of learning making a valuable contribution to the business relationship

Top tip: keep it short and sweet – often the best anecdotal feedback can be obtained in a brief conversation.

Set a test

This need not be as serious or onerous as it may sound. Prizes and incentives may be necessary to convince alumni that it’s worth doing. Depending on the content you can ask people to complete:

      • A multiple-choice assessment – good if the subject matter dealt with regulatory or legal matters and there’s a clear ‘right answer’
      • A quiz – can be serious or more light-hearted. A crossword could work well for a topic laden with specialist jargon. A word search could reveal desired line manager behaviours
      • A visual – filling the blanks in a process map to test comprehension of the correct steps to take at which stage

Top tip: check the test with a subject matter expert, senior stakeholder and/or the learning provider before going live.

And here’s one ‘not-to-do’: panic and create an online survey that you email to everyone who took part in any training whatsoever, pleading with them to dredge their brains for answers and examples.


You may find this post useful: ‘ROI for training – it’s not rocket science’

Want to discuss evaluating your L&D efforts?  Please get in touch


Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ 



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