We live in uncertain times. The traditional evaluation processes we’ve become comfortable with may not be providing a complete picture of how well our learning offerings are being received. Can we afford not to know exactly where we stand with those we serve?
Now, I’m not talking about smile sheets or a Level 5 evaluation. I’m referring to a more viral evaluation, one that lies within the very learning fabric of your company.
The first step to truly understand how we’re doing is to analyze how effective we are from every angle. After all, while learners themselves are the ultimate customers, the journey doesn’t stop there. Our offerings have a much wider impact. Here are a few other stakeholders to consider:
1. Trainers. Whether internal to your organization or external through a vendor, these individuals are on the front line, “selling” your services. Do they feel valued? Are they allowed to give input on how well the learning assets are working? Do they understand all that you’re trying to offer, and do they support the total picture?
I have found that many trainers feel removed from the overall learning strategy within an organization. They may appear engaged, but when asked directly, they often give a different answer. Many feel that feedback is solicited only after the strategy has been decided and after learning assets have been purchased or designed. Pulling these critical stakeholders’ feedback into the process when it can have a more meaningful impact can go a long way in successfully achieving your learning strategy.
2. Vendors. I have often found external partners to be the most underutilized resource when it comes to feedback. Since vendors are seen as outsiders, learners often will be more open about sharing exactly how they feel. The hardest part can be getting the vendor to relay that feedback, because he or she may feel that doing so could threaten the working relationship. Learning leaders must clarify that giving this feedback will actually strengthen that relationship and position the vendor as an even more valuable partner.
3. The IT department. In my work, I have often found a great rift between the learning organization and the IT department. They often see each other as closed-minded, inflexible — and in some cases, even out to sabotage one other. Strong words, but all too often the case. That said, learning and IT professionals are under incredible stress these days. Both find themselves trying to meet unrealistic deadlines with too few resources. The more these two organizations can work together, the better off they might be. However, the conversation has to start earlier — and with someone taking the lead. If learning executives actively adopt more of a “How can I serve you?” tone versus one of “Can you do this for me?”, IT leaders can become strong learning advocates, providing invaluable feedback based on what they hear from students.
4. Front-line managers. Although the learner is the direct recipient of education efforts, the manager is often the indirect beneficiary. While front-line managers may not be able to give feedback on any one particular course or learning asset, they can offer specific insight into the effectiveness of the behaviors the courses were designed to support.
Feedback can be hard to collect and sometimes even hard to hear, but our industry needs to do a better job of intentionally receiving it. After all, it’s not a matter of whether all these stakeholders have a strong opinion about your learning offerings — it’s whether you’re being included in the conversations. And trust me, you want to be.Filed under: Learning Delivery