This is part 3 of 4. If you haven’t, you should start with Parts 1 and 2. In Part 1, I introduced my take on Blended Learning, and talked about several tools, including Pre-learning, eLearning, and Video Webinars. In Part 2, I expanded on Video Webinars, and covered Videos and Instructor Led Training.
Here, I’ll cover Coaching and Evaluations. in the fourth and final posting of this series, I’ll talk about Workplace Tools, and how to apply all of these tools to specific training audiences. Let’s start with Coaching.
Coaching adds a lot to a live training event. The trainer works directly with the learners to guide them through the steps of a new product or process – working with a single person at a time, or with a small group. Typically, the trainer will demonstrate and explain how to accomplish the task, and then let the learner(s) perform the task on their own. The trainer watches, and provides guidance when it’s needed. It’s important to let the learner go through the process on their own as much as possible so they can make the connection for themselves. Even if the learner doesn’t get stuck, the coach may see an opportunity to pitch in with advice on how to tweak the learner’s technique.
Follow-ups and Evaluations
It’s important to understand your learners’ skill level and development needs, and how you’re doing from their perspective. It’s valuable to have some way to measure the performance of your training program, so you can put some kind of number to an ROI measurement. It’s typically difficult to put a dollar value on training efforts like you can with sales, but there are ways to measure the success of your program. There are a few methods I’ve employed over the years.
~ External Trainees
To evaluate a Retail Sales Associate’s (RSA’s) training needs, you can work with your company’s sales team and field trainers (if you have them). They usually interact with the RSAs on a regular basis, and may be able to provide input for each RSA. You may also be able to work with the retailer’s management to learn where knowledge gaps are in general – by store or department, or for the entire retailer.
To assess what the learners think of your training program, you can use surveys. One way is to present a short survey (5 questions) at the completion of each eLearning course. This will provide valuable input about how your eLearning content works for them. You can even convert the numbers you receive from the surveys into a Net Promoter Score (NPS), which can be used as part of an ROI measurement for your eLearning program. You can learn more about NPS HERE.
It’s difficult to send an online quiz to an external audience, because you have no control over whether they will complete the quiz, and you probably won’t have access to each individual’s results. You can try, but the best you’ll probably get is an evaluation of a particular retailer’s sales staff as a whole. Which may still be helpful if you get enough respondents. You can do a lot more with employees of your own company, or third party teams who your company hires.
~ Internal Employees
Presumably, you have more control over your own company’s employees, whether it’s a sales team, trainers, field training team, or other employees. This should even be true for third party teams that your company hires. For them, you can distribute quizzes to evaluate their knowledge, and surveys to evaluate the success of something like a training workshop.
To develop a meaningful quiz, you can work with your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to come up with questions that target the knowledge you expect from your team. You can also base a quiz on training topics that were covered in a training event, like a workshop. I developed a method to limit the time they have available to complete an online quiz, to limit the possibility of an “open book” quiz, assuming they will be in remote locations, taking the quiz on their own time.
Surveys can be helpful to evaluate the success of a training event like a training workshop, by asking questions that show how the training was received.
I have a lot of experience in developing these quizzes and surveys, and I did it using Qualtrics. One of the challenges is presenting the results in a way that makes sense to management, because the raw results can be a bit cryptic. I developed a method for presenting the results in an easy to understand format. You can check out some examples on my Work Samples page, in the “Quizzes and Surveys” section.
For any group, you can incorporate “smile sheets” – printed surveys the trainer passes out at the end of a live training. Learners are asked to fill them in and return them to the trainer. It includes a few questions about the learner’s evaluation of the trainer and the training session. The results can be used to learn about the effectiveness of the training session, to be fed back into the overall training program plan.
Another way to evaluate the capability of a particular field trainer or retail salesperson is to go on a ride-along. The training manager can do this himself, and/or the key product trainers can do this. You’ll go into the field with a company salesperson or field trainer. You might evaluate your own field trainer, or the retail salespeople you meet. Or both – which is what I would do. From there, you can enhance your training program to fit the needs of a specific individual or group. Pull together the results of many of these experiences, and you can feed them into your larger training plan.
Feedback from superiors and product trainers
It’s helpful to get the opinion of a learner’s superior. You can meet them to get feedback on how their team is performing, and where there may be learning gaps. If you have trainers who interact with your learning audiences, use them as a resource.
Incorporating Evaluations & Feedback
So, what do you do with all of this knowledge you’ve acquired from your evaluations and feedback? You feed it back into your training program plan. If you find a knowledge gap that’s widespread, make sure you address it in future trainings. If you find individuals that have specific knowledge gaps, use your trainers to coach each individual, or push the individual towards certain eLearnings or other materials that will help them improve.
The Evaluation and Feedback program should be ongoing – performed on a regular schedule. For internal learners, let your team know when quizzes will be coming, and how they’ll be held accountable for the results.
So, in this post, we’ve covered Coaching and evaluations. Both are very important parts of a Blended training program. In the final post in this series, I’ll talk about Workplace Tools, defining your training audience, and how to apply all of this information to your training program.