Monday, April 19, 2021

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The Fear That is Killing the Training Industry

By Wendy Kirkpatrick

Many training professionals don’t evaluate organizational level outcomes for their programs because they think they won’t be able to prove it.

Ironically, this avoidance of Level 4 Results is a frequent cause of programs being cancelled and training responsibilities getting outsourced.

Twice in the last week, Jim Kirkpatrick and I were in conversations with clients who did not want to have any accountability for the true Level 4 Results of their organization. Their reasons included things like:

  • "There are so many variables out of my control."
  • "Gathering that data would be impossible."
  • "Our program is not powerful enough to contribute to the mission of our organization." 

One of them played my favorite card, “Our organization is different.”

While every organization is somewhat different, they are all remarkably the same. All organizations have a reason that they exist, and they have a financial reality that allows them to continue to operate. Every action within the organization should contribute in some way to the organizational purpose, or it is a waste of resources.

It is unfortunate that training is often cast as a waste of resources, or a “nice to have” activity when extra funding is available, due to the fear of attempting to connect it to the true Level 4 Results, or the organizational purpose. It does not need to be this daunting or difficult.

The secret is Level 3 Behavior. 1+2 does not equal 4. By the same token, training (Level 2) and good feedback (Level 1) do not equal results (Level 4). We need the right actions or behaviors (Level 3) to get from training to results.

Here is a quick example from a hospital. Their Level 4 Result is to provide the highest quality healthcare possible within funding to improve lives in the community. Measures include customer surveys on perceived quality of care, counts of medical errors, adherence to the budget, number of patients served and more.

Analysis showed that the rate of patient infections was higher than average, so a hand-washing initiative was instituted. It started with a public relations campaign and training. To follow,

  • Signs were posted in nurse stations.
  • A sticker was placed on each hospital room door.
  • Medical professionals were asked to self-report the number of times they washed their hands during their shift.
  • Supervisors were asked to specifically observe if they saw doctors and nurses washing hands upon entry into each patient room.
  • Patients were asked in their exit survey if they believed every medical professional washed their hands prior to treating them.

Data and testimonials from all sources were aggregated and compared to the actual infection rate in the hospital. They saw a positive correlation between the rate of hand washing and the reduction in infection rate, so they had a positive story to tell about providing high-quality care and improving lives. Because they had data related to Level 3 Behavior, what people do on the job, the story had credibility.

Please do not be afraid of Level 4 Results! The success and longevity of the training industry depends on each of us embracing our role in helping our organization to reach its highest results.

Learn more about Level 4 Results in our bronze level certification program or read our latest book.

Still convinced you cannot link your training to your organization’s highest level results? Contact us and let’s chat.

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