Taking Training (And Results) To The Next Level

Training measurement helps us get rid of “scrap learning”—learning that is delivered but never used.

What does it take to be a master trainer? For close to five decades now, I have been training trainers in more than 25 countries. In all that time, my focus has been on helping people get results from their training. So to me, the answer to how to be a master trainer is to get results from your training—each and every time it is delivered, in whatever form it is delivered.

So the question becomes: How do you get better results? It starts by being willing to honestly look at where you and your training programs are right now. Answer this question: How do you currently measure the results of your training?

Do you use Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation? Do you use each of the four levels consistently? If not, why not? According to ATD research, 93 percent of organizations regularly use Level 1 (which I call “Did they like it?”), typically end-of-course evaluations.

Only 27 percent of organizations use Level 2— “Did they learn it?”—which most often involves a test of some sort. However, if you don’t pretest, then your post-test really isn’t valid because you’re assuming that all the knowledge and skills a participant has are learned within the training itself—which would be nearly impossible for adults who normally bring a significant amount of prior knowledge, skill, and experience to the classroom.

For the sake of this brief article, I won’t drill down further; the numbers drop significantly for Levels 3 and 4—“Did they use it?” and “Did it make a difference to the organization?” Suffice to say, if you don’t measure it, you can’t celebrate it. If you want to improve your results, you have to rigorously measure your results.


There’s another reason measurement is important: It helps us get rid of “scrap learning.” Put simply, it is learning delivered that never gets used. Various studies across multiple organizations have put scrap learning at 45 to 85 percent of the learning delivered! So does your scrap learning number matter? Absolutely! Because if you know the number, you can do something about it.

There are at least 15 things that cause scrap learning. Here are six of them:

1. Training isn’t the solution. How often do we thoroughly examine systems, policies and procedures, recruitment, placement, and coaching as possibilities for solving performance problems? Training as a solution costs the most time and money—especially if it doesn’t solve the performance problems.

2. Poor manager engagement. When managers pay no attention to whom they select for training and how they support their use of what they’ve learned after, scrap learning soars.

3. Content chunks are too large. When I start working with a new client, we find the average content chunk is 45 to 65 minutes. The ideal content chunk is 20 minutes or less.

4. No revisiting strategy. Many instructors review, but few revisit. Review is when the instructor covers the content again (and participants stop listening because they’ve already heard it). Revisit is when participants look at key content chunks themselves—this drives retention and increases energy.

5. No transfer strategy. Transfer doesn’t happen by accident; it happens by plan. There are things that must happen before, during, and after training to reduce scrap learning—and maximize on-the-job use of knowledge and skills. How do managers in your organization currently prepare people to attend training? How do you equip managers to have a pre-training conversation with participants to maximize their focus and involvement during the class? How much reflection time do you provide during class so participants can develop action plans for applying the knowledge and skills back on the job? These are just a few considerations.

6. No action plan. If participants don’t plan for how they’ll use what they’ve learned back on the job after the class, chances are they won’t have time to develop a plan once they are back at work.

Until next time—continue to add value and make a difference.

Bob Pike, CSP, CPLP FELLOW, CPAESpeakers Hall of Fame, is known as the “trainer’s trainer.” He is the author of more than 30 books, including “Creative Training Techniques Handbook” and his newest book, “The Master Trainer’s Handbook.” You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook using bobpikectt.