How to effectively measure and deliver training results

The following is a column on hospitality training trends that appeared in the April 7 issue of Hotel Management. With a focus on reaching out to your hotel's audience, relying on fact-based decision making and understanding who the stakeholders are in your property, this article helps provide information on how to better influence your employees.

When it comes to measuring the results of a training program, most trainers and training leaders are adept at demonstrating the basic three levels of learning, but often it is the fourth level that means the most to hotel leadership. Senior leaders want to know—did we move the needle on sales, profits, quality, efficiency, etc. This is information beyond more basic measurements such as whether employees can pass a quiz, and demonstrate a new skill or behavior on the job.

Knowing your audience will guide you in assessing hospitality training programs—what to measure and how to measure. Telling the right story to the right audience and at the right time can strengthen your training department and command the respect and attention of your hotel leadership team.

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Understand who the stakeholders in your company are. It’s not just your boss, but also your bosses’ boss, and other leaders. Perception is unique to each stakeholder. When you are thinking about what to measure, talk to your stakeholders about what they value. Be prepared to tell a different story to a different audience.

Be ready with information, survey results and comments from employees. Fact-based decision making should be a foundational strategic element in your learning measurement strategy. Some stakeholders may want to sit in on a training session.

Do not underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. Often stakeholders will gauge a program’s success by informally asking employees their impressions of a training program.

Your guide on how much measurement you will need to do is based on how much time, effort and money is being invested in the overall program or initiative—not just how much is spent on the training part of the project.

Statistics and mathematics can make a compelling case for some stakeholders. Reach out to experts who do this for a living, whether your financial officer, a research group in your company, or a nearby college or university. Have a confidentiality agreement signed when you share information outside the company.

The continuous focus for a department leader is to beat the drum of learning/training and show business value month after month. Gone are the days of “nice-to-have” training programs. We have to think about what the organization values and communicate what we do in a way that equates that value.

Four levels of learning (Kirkpatrick Model):

  • Level One: Did they enjoy the experience? 
  • Level Two: Can they demonstrate knowledge by a quiz?
  • Level Three: Can they demonstrate the learned skill or behavior on the job, without prompting? 
  • Level Four: Does their learning translate to a business outcome such as increased sales or profit or reduced turnover? 

Mark Boccia is senior director, global operations, Marriott International. Gary Whitney is VP, learning and brand service consulting, InterContinental Hotels Group.

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