Training Effectiveness - Measurement and Improvement

Having played various roles in the training domain for more than 14 years now, I am still unable to get answer to the question "Are we able to measure the training effectiveness" in true sense.
In the Deming cycle PDCA where P stands for Planning, D for Doing, C for Checking and A for Acting on the outcome, in most of the cases I have observed that whenever something goes wrong in the process and is detected in the D & C stage respectively, one of the causes that emerges generally is the lack of training.Moreover, the first thing that we impart to the person who is a fresh hire in a Project or in an Organisation is to Train him. But do we really care if he has understood what we wanted him to understand or has he learned all the key aspects and will he be now able to execute the activities/tasks etc. independently and in an error proof way as is expected from him. Not sure! right and that is what is the dilemma.
We spend hours and thousands in creating the training content and try to make it as interactive as we can but fail to put the same rigor, same efforts in measuring that to what depth the person has understood the content and has it really got into his DNA and to an extent that he will not need any further help and support in doing the activity/task he has been trained on.
Post Training effectiveness measurement is important and still remains unaddressed. Currently, due to various reasons like time scarcity or lack of funds training or learning sessions are restricted to one, two or max 4 in a year spending approximately 36 hrs of productive time on a person which is barely 1.5% of his total time spent on the Job. With this almost zero intervention, we expect a person to excel and do his tasks first time right and also continuously improve. Is it practically possible? Some organizations have understood this and have started ensuring that the employees spend at least 10% of their total time in getting trained on existing processes so that they understand it in depth and can make it better or enhancing their learning by doing something new or creative or trying something they always wanted to do. But still the question remains, how do we really know if whatever they are exposed to is really getting into them and they are get 
Hence to me Training and its implementation in the real world is a thought process which involves carving a strategic, progressive, engaging, continually measuring and improving growth plan for an individual or a group of individuals. 
The training effectiveness can be ensured and measured in the following ways:
1. An immediate measurement of the learning through a pre-test and post test mechanism, the only word of caution is that the pretest and post test should not be the same. Some organization and trainers make this mistake. 
An important addendum to this is that it should be immediately followed with the recognition of the participant showing the participant his level of learning during the Training intervention, which can be inform of certificate, Letter of Appreciation, letter of participation or some similar give away so that there is an ongoing motivation for learning.
2. The knowledge retention span of a good session is 10-15 days and it is then where a 10-15 mins review with the participant on his understanding of the concepts and also understanding and helping him in the next 1-3 month plan. The feedback of the guide should be documented and shared with the participant.
3. The plan so created should be reviewed monthly and there should be atleast a fortnightly submission of the assignment or the work done using the learning by the participant, which should be duly approved by the guide. The monthly review should be documented with the current progress and a clear plan of action.
4. Then there should be a Quarterly intervention for the overall progress and implementation check by the Trainer himself. This intervention should have a Pre Assessment and the feedback from the trainer is then documented again and shared. It is during this time that all the earlier feedbacks, assessments are also assessed by the trainer and then compiled in the form of Report card and shared with the participant.
5. The training effectiveness cannot be complete unless there is moment of truth witnessed by the Organization leadership from the participant. Starting from the day 91 till 180th day, it is now the responsibility of the Organization and the respective leader to ensure that there is enough opportunity provided to the participant to implement its learning, it will then be monthly reviewed by the leader himself and a Quarterly progress is presented to the Organization Management.
If the above intensive learning curriculum is followed, it clears shows the commitment levels of both the participant and the organization. It is then the true learning happens.
It is important to note that to keep the motivation levels high during this period, there should be enough rewards and recognition set for the participants which commensurates their continuous learning and growth.
Learning is a slow process and needs lot of patience from both the participant and the organization. It can only be accelerated by the ways as suggested by me above but cannot be short-circuited to achieve immediate results. 
It is said that the Hyderabadi Biryani or the Liquors taste Best when cooked slowly or brewed for a long duration, same is applicable to the Training, the more time and dedicated effort we give to the training initiatives more effective they will be.

Topics: Training & Development