“Our people love this training. It consistently gets an average rating of 4.8.”

“We don’t need to evaluate this program again. We did an ROI study last year.”

“There isn’t anything in the budget for follow-up. We only had enough for the trainers and bringing in all of the managers.”

These are just some of the many excuses chief training and learning officers give for not assessing the impact of training programs and other types of learning interventions. They use these excuses at their own risk. What they don’t realize is that they are failing to maximize the impact of these programs and wasting valuable resources (See the blog post: “Why Training Doesn’t Work – Fifty Years of Research” by Jody Hollis).

I have seen organizations invest millions of dollars in training programs (root cause analysis, project management, learning organization, difficult conversations, etc.) only to find that about 10% of the participants applied this knowledge to their work. Usually the reason for this lack of application of learning has nothing to do with the quality of the training or the accompanying materials. It has to do with factors outside of the training event. You can’t know what is blocking application unless you ask participants and, in some cases, talk to their supervisors and co-workers.

If managers are not following up with employees after they have attended training programs to ask about that experience and how they are applying it in their work, then they can’t know what the learners know, they can’t know how to improve performance, and they can’t know if those learning interventions were worth their organization’s investment of time and money. This kind of follow-up isn’t tangential; it is central to the training and learning process.

If companies truly care about impact and using their resources wisely, then, at a minimum, somebody must ask learners a few critical questions:

What did you learn?

How did you apply this learning in your work?

What difference has it made for you and your organization?

What could have been done to have even greater impact?