When professionals and consultants look for a tool for analyzing and evaluating the results of training and educational programs, The Kirkpatrick Model is probably one of the best-known models that come to their minds. The model introduced by Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick (1924 – 2014) in the 1950s can be implemented before, throughout, and after training to show the value of training to the business. However, realizing the shortcomings in the previous model and the need to update it to make it more relevant, later Don, Jim and Wendy Kirkpatrick, with the help of a host of global Kirkpatrick ambassadors developed the New World Kirkpatrick Model.
While The Kirkpatrick Model is one of the most-used training evaluation models in the world, it is not always implemented correctly. Here are a few common mistakes people make while using The Kirkpatrick Model and how they can avoid them:
Evaluating the level individually and sequentially
It is crucial to understand that the four levels of The Kirkpatrick Model don’t have to be followed sequentially. At Level one itself, you could ask questions about applications, what kind of results the participants think they could achieve, etc. which help L&D understand how committed or confident they are at level 1 itself. Allwyn Dsilva, General Manager, Tata Communications says, “As L&D professionals you test knowledge, skills, and attitude through running a simulation or tests. It's tricky how you measure commitment and confidence, so what we did is converted exams into certifications.” The difference is when one gives an exam he knows there are a set of generic questions, but when certification is offered especially with different levels and a sign of respect in the organizations, that brings about more confidence and commitment. All this can be done on level 1 and companies need not wait to cross all stages.
Waiting until after training has been delivered to consider evaluation
Preethi B. Rao, Head of Learning Effectiveness, C2C Organizational Development shares her experience and says, “We do a lot of training programs, and we tell clients right at the beginning when we are designing their training program that we can help you with evaluation. Many of the organizations just opt for the training program and then six months later these organizations come back to us and ask for an evaluation. I didn’t even design the training program based on a specific result, and now the company wants me to evaluate it. This is something I have seen a lot of organizations struggle with”. The solution to this as told by experts is, every company already has a set of critical programs. Start by first defining the results and then by gathering leading indicators that are currently happening. After you have acquired this data, you are in a much better position to design a program. Keep a clear vision of the result before starting the program.
Ignoring these errors can mean:
- Lack of clarity on the true purpose of the program
- Not having any meaningful program results to share with the stakeholders
- Not getting to the more powerful levels of Level 3, i.e., behavior and Level 4, i.e., results.
There are many layers to a training program, and sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances, it is highly possible that the program may not get due credit. Because of situations like these, it is essential to talk to your stakeholders before the training program and outline how the training program will be contributing to the changes wanted. Make sure there is commitment and confidence so that the microeconomic factors do not take away the entire quality of the work done. Irrespective of the factors you will be able to show that there has been a renewed effort to be on track because of the skill building.
(The article is based on the webinar, ‘Avoid crucial evaluation mistakes when using the Kirkpatrick model,’ organized by People Matters in association with C2C-OD)