In 1959, Kirkpatrick first outlined four levels of training evaluation:

  • Reactions – ‘liking or feelings for a programme’.
  • Learning – ‘principles, facts etc absorbed by the participants.
  • Behaviour – ‘using learning on the job’.
  • Results – ‘increased production, reduced cost’s etc’.

While a number of developments in evaluation have been made during the past 48 years, the basic tenets of Kirkpatrick’s work remain.  Ultimately the “acid test” of an investment in management training and development is the results it produces.  Clearly an organisation would not invest in a new product or service if management thought that it would be a flop!

Any evaluation must therefore start at the design stage of a programme.

  • What is the purpose of the management training?
  • What issues is the organisation struggling to resolve?
  • What does the organisation wish to see differently from its people?

For example, does the organisation wish to:

  • Increase productivity of staff?
  • Reduced mistakes/quality problems?
  • Increased sales or market share?
  • Have more effective and productive working relationships between managers/functions?
  • Improve motivation and reduce staff turnover.

Once the outcomes of a management training and development programme are clear, it makes the task of evaluation much easier.

Building on the principles of Kirkpatrick’s model of training evaluation, the impact a programme has on individual managers, their teams and ultimately the organisation can be assessed in a number of ways.

  • Individual – The impact the management training and development has had on the individuals performance and behaviour can be measured via achievement of personal targets (e.g. cost reductions, sales increases etc) as well as observations from their manager or via 360 feedback appraisals.
  • Team – The impact the programme has had on the managers team can be measured via achievement of team targets and performance measures (e.g. customer satisfaction, absence rates etc) as well as observations on team behaviour from external/internal feedback surveys.
  • Organisation – Ultimately the impact a management training and development programme has on the organisation can be assessed via the organisations own metrics (profitability, sales growth, market share etc) as well as internal employee satisfaction and motivation surveys.