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Calculating it, however, is not an easy task. A practical approach is needed, and its implementation should start before the training begins.
1. Start asking questions even before the training has started.
In most cases, at least one person is involved in the training design process to provide guidance on what should be included in the content. This is a necessity, but their presence and participation is not enough. It is your responsibility as a training specialist to involve the future learners in the process. The research is clear in this respect - adults are not interested in training if they are not convinced that it will be useful to them.
Initial exploration is your opportunity to grab not only the minds, but also the minds and hearts of those who will be trained. Pay attention to their expectations and find out what the factors are that motivate them and use the information in the training.
2. Measure the actions of training participants.
People say a lot of things - they say they play sports, they say they are patient with their children, they say they pay attention during training... But the facts show otherwise.
You need to measure the engagement that learners show, not the engagement they claim to experience. Examine and analyze their behavior, the results, compare them, share them with the teachers. This way, you will be able to see which learners are truly engaged with the training, and what is the relative value generated by each of its parts. For your convenience, you can use automated reports that detail each learner's actions.
3. When asking direct questions, be careful that they are the right questions.
Do not ask learners if they enjoyed the room or if the trainer was entertaining. These are tempting questions, to be sure, but they do not measure the value of your training.
What questions should you ask?
- Present a scenario and ask training participants to give suggestions on what might be a possible outcome of the situation. Ask them to rate their suggestions.
- Ask a multiple choice question where each of the answers is technically correct. Ask learners which they think is the most correct answer and then have them explain why they chose that answer. This will stimulate discussion and active thinking and avoid 'rote learning'.
- Ask learners to complete one of their standard job duties - for example, writing an email to a client. Then, look at all the options and task the group with suggestions for improving them.
- At the end of the training, ask learners to make a commitment - what tactical change would they make by going back to their desk? According to research, publicly making a commitment influences behavior. Save the answers and send them to learners a month after the training.
- Continue to train people after the training is over. The moments that matter most are the ones that happen right then. Follow the trainees' performance closely, but make it personal and targeted to their experience.
To finish, ask learners what they think are the important things they have learned and how many of them they use in practice. This is where you can start to calculate the ROI of your training.