Sharon_Taylor

Sharon Taylor
Director, Quality,
Learning & Development
Emergenetics International

In our recent eBook: Building an Effective Soft Skills Training Program, we share a few thought starters to help you evaluate your talent development programs and determine how to make your soft skills training even more effective.

Whether you are interested in enhancing soft skills or supporting any employee development initiative, it’s important to assess previous development programs to understand what you want to replicate and what should be changed.

As you evaluate your programming, consider these 11 questions to evaluate your successes and opportunities for improvement:

1. What goals were you trying to achieve with your training?

When you are initiating a new program like soft skills development, it’s important to know what targets you are trying to reach.

List out the initial goals of the program you are evaluating. If you did not identify them ahead of time, skip to question four. Otherwise, continue down the list.

2. Were your goals SMART?

For your goals to be meaningful, they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Doing so ensures that you have identified outcomes that are reasonable and useful to your business, and that you have a specific timeframe to measure whether these outcomes were achieved or not. If you did not use SMART goals, I encourage you to use this methodology when building your next training.

3. What measurable data do you have to support whether any or all of your goals were achieved?

Review the metrics from your training. This data may come from survey responses, pre- and post-tests, manager feedback or performance reviews. You may also have measured outcomes like retention, productivity or deadline completion prior to the training and afterwards.

Identify what data you have and evaluate the findings to understand which of your goals were achieved and which fell short of expectations. This information will help you understand whether the training was successful overall.

4. Were there clear next steps and practical applications for the training?

When it comes to technical programs, there is typically an obvious time to implement your learnings. It can be more challenging to apply soft skills trainings since we typically do not always have clear signs for application.

Nevertheless, for training to be effective, it should be actionable and practical. Evaluate whether the training provided attendees with practical uses for the program and gave them ideas on how to implement it going forward. If you have survey data from participants around this question, review their feedback to understand if they felt they had the tools to implement their learnings.

5. How was the training delivered and structured?

Consider the program’s length and delivery. Did you incorporate short micro learnings, two-hour, half-day or full-day sessions? Was the training in-person, via webinar or independent eLearning courses? Reflect on whether the format matched the content. You can also review survey data and ask attendees how they felt about the delivery and structure to evaluate the program.

6. What was the pace of the training?

Consider the content in relation to the timeframe and structure of the presentation. Did attendees have too much time or too little to get through the information?

7. Did your employees enjoy the training?

Reaching your objectives and having the appropriate structure to your program is important, and so is the engagement of your employees. If you surveyed employees, you likely have data to determine if they found the material to be entertaining, useful and worth their time. If you did not get survey data, you can informally connect with attendees to get their input on the program.

8. What tactics did you use to keep the training top of mind?

If you want employees to implement their learnings, it’s important for the talent development team to find ways to keep it top of mind. Did you send follow-up emails, provide opportunities to touch base on this information in team meetings or revisit it at another training? Evaluate the tactics you used to help staff retain the lessons from the training.

9. What were the costs?

Analyze the hard costs (like facilitator costs) and soft expenses (like employee time) of the program against the goals you achieved, survey feedback and attendee sentiment as well as behavioral changes from the training. Depending on the metrics you used, you may be able to identify a monetary and/or non-monetary return on investment.

10. What elements of the training would you keep?

After answering these questions, identify what you would do the same. With these elements identified, you can begin building a list of things to include in your ideal program going forward.

11. What would you change?

Similarly, build a list of things that you would do differently going forward. If you see these elements pop up in new programs you evaluate, you can speak with the providers about alternatives they may have or identify ways to make these elements more effective in the new training.

Evaluating your previous development programs will help you understand what to look for and what to avoid when researching new solutions for soft skills programs or any other trainings your organization would like to launch.

To learn more about how to build a successful soft skills development program, download our eBook.

If you have questions about how to evaluate or implement your training programs, fill out the form below.