3 Ways to Demonstrate the Value of Training Programs

By James D. Kirkpatrick, Wendy Kirkpatrick

Are you stuck when it comes to creating and demonstrating the value of your training programs? Here are three ideas to free yourself.

#1. Do Not Begin Without an End Result in Mind  

Donald L. Kirkpatrick said it best, "Trainers must begin with desired results and then determine what behavior is needed to accomplish them. Then trainers must determine the attitudes, knowledge, and skills that are necessary to bring about the desired behavior(s). The final challenge is to present the training program in a way that enables the participants not only to learn what they need to know but also to react favorably to the program."

At the beginning of any initiative or training program, start by considering the highest-level result your organization is charged with accomplishing. Use this Level 4 Result as your target for any and all efforts in the initiative. If you cannot describe how the intended training would positively impact your overall result or mission, you aren't on the right track.

#2. Value Must Be Created Before It Can Be Demonstrated 

Research presented by Brinkerhoff (2006) suggests that as much as 90 percent of training resources are spent on the design, development, and delivery of training events that yield 15 percent on-the-job application. Reinforcement that occurs after the training event produces the highest level of learning effectiveness, followed by activities that occur before the learning event.

To create ultimate value and return on expectations, strong attention must be given to Level 3 activities. Consequently, to create maximum value within their organizations, it is essential that learning professionals redefine their roles and extend their expertise, involvement, and influence into Levels 3 and 4.

#3. Have a Compelling Chain of Evidence That Demonstrates Bottom-Line Value 

A chain of evidence serves to unify the learning and business functions, not to isolate training or set it apart. This unity is critical for Level 3 execution, where business value is produced.

This chain of evidence consists of quantitative and qualitative data that sequentially connect the four levels and show the ultimate contribution of learning and reinforcement to the business. When workplace learning professionals work in concert with their key business partners, this chain of evidence supports the partnership effort and shows the business value of working as a team to accomplish the overall mission.