When we send our teams to training—or conduct in-house training—there is an expectation. We expect the learner will know what to do to run a more effective call or answer the phones to maximize booked calls. However, there is a difference between knowing what to do, and being able to do it.
I was introduced to a YouTube™ video of an engineer named Destin Sandlin explaining his experience learning how to ride a bike “backwards.” The bike itself wasn’t backwards, just how you steer. So, if Sandlin turned the handlebars right, the bike would go left and vice versa. In the video he can verbalize what he needs to do to ride the bike, but when he attempts to ride the bike it is nearly impossible. In his words, “I had the knowledge to operate the bike, but I did not have the understanding, therefore knowledge is not understanding.”
It took Sandlin eight months of practice to finally learn how to ride the bike. After learning to ride the bike backwards, he decided to try to ride a “regular” bike. He struggled with the regular bike for only about 20 minutes before picking it back up again.
The video teaches a very valuable lesson: Any behavior can be changed with practice, however, if it is not continuously reinforced, it is easy to go back to the previous behavior. This shows us that training is not a one-time event. You can’t expect to show your team how to do something once or send them to one training class and expect them to be able to perform the desired behavior.
If training is not a one-time event, how do we measure its success? The Kirkpatrick Model defines four levels of learning evaluation.
The goal of every training should be behavior change. That’s why you started training. Behavioral change can be measured informally and formally.
Informal measurements of behavior change can be subjective, but still valuable. These include: