Measuring the impact of training, although arguably a challenge, is one of the most important things any training professional can do. At Tero, we take the measurement of training results very seriously and dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to it - all to ensure that the programs offered by Tero deliver the outstanding results our clients have come to expect.
Beyond the usual reaction surveys that are completed at the end of all Tero training workshops, Tero also surveys all program graduates (for programs that are at least one-half day in length) several weeks after the conclusion of a training program to collect feedback and data around the practical, real-world use of the skills and concepts.
For longer courses of study such as Tero's Leadership Boot Camp and Tero's Outstanding In Life youth programs, a more extensive measurement process is implemented. Data is collected around both hard (pre- and post-assessments, return on investment) and soft measures (interviews, testimonials, observation). A summary of the results from Tero's leadership development program follows.
At four times during the six- to eight-month training program, participants are asked to complete an assessment that measures their perceptions of their skill-level or competence in two areas: self-esteem and the learning objectives of the program. Four assessments, a pre-, post-, post-, post- series, are carried out to be evaluated later for their statistical significance.
The average mean scores are compared for their statistical significance. Since the training is divided into three units, a couple of comparisons are made. In the first portion of the training, the pre-test is evaluated against both the first post-test and the final post-test. For the second portion the first post-test is evaluated against the second post-test and the pre-test is evaluated against the final post-test. In the third unit, the second post-test is evaluated against the final post-test as well as the usual pre-, final post-test evaluation. For self-esteem, a set of skills not specifically identified as learning objectives in the program, only the pre- and final post-test are compared.
The questions are designed to measure growth in two areas: knowledge (does the individual possess knowledge of a certain area) and behavior (does the individual behave/act in a certain manner). In short, we gauge the growth in the participants, through a self-assessment, over both the entire length of the program as well as over the specific period of time that the learning objectives were covered.
Since 1998, a professional statistician from Drake University in Des Moines (Dr. Jim Veale) along with the head of Adult Learning from Drake University (Dr. Tom Westbrook) have been consulted to analyze and interpret the data and produce reports of the results. The most recent results are described below.
According to statisticians, practical significance provides a measure of the importance of the difference in the scores for the particular field of study. A result can be statistically significant with a sufficiently large sample even when the actual difference is quite small and lacking in practical significance.
In the case of Tero's communication skills training, the average post-test exceeded about 96% of the corresponding pre-tests. For leadership, the average post-test exceeded corresponding pre-tests by about 100%. In the case of personal effectiveness, the average post-test exceeded corresponding pre-tests by about 96%. For self-esteem, it was about 92%.
Said another way, the results show that Tero training programs have moved participants from the:
50th to the 96th percentile on the personal communications scale
50th to the 100th percentile on the leadership scale
50th to the 96th percentile on the personal effectiveness scale
50th to the 92nd percentile on the self-esteem scale
These are results that most educators and employers would consider to be both educationally and practically significant. A 46% increase in communication skills, 50% increase in leadership, 46% increase in personal effectiveness and 42% increase in self-esteem is especially impressive given that statisticians report that a mere 3% increase is meaningful.
Another way to look at this is, what parent wouldn't be pleased to see their child show an improvement from 50% to 96% during a eight-month period in a given course of study?
It should be noted that building self-esteem is not a specific learning objective in any Tero training programs. However, when an organization invests in the growth of its employees in an intensive training program such as this Tero program, and when the participants realize they are growing and learning in a number of areas, it is reasonable to assume that self-esteem increases. Since research shows that an increase in self-esteem has been linked to improvements in productivity and effectiveness, self-esteem is also measured.
In a joint American Management Association (AMA) and Training Magazine survey on leadership training, the average per participant cost of leadership training was found to be between $6,000 and $7,500. The financial investment in Tero's leadership program is well below the average (approximately $4,500 per person).
By the end of the training program (and in the months that follow the conclusion of the training), estimates are made about the financial impact of the projects that are proposed and carried out as part of the training. The financial results, in some cases, are difficult to quantify. However, in many cases, significant dollar savings can be directly attached to project impact as well as savings in process improvements. In at least two cases, in a recent Tero program, projects resulted in savings of more than $500,000, resulting in a breathtaking return on training investment.
Gaining competence in any new skill or subject matter takes time. Gaining competence in the social, emotional and strategic abilities of leadership takes even more time. Particularly because knowing about a body of knowledge is vastly easier than gaining mastery over it as a style of relational interaction.
Tero's leadership training program is six- to eight-months in length. Naturally, a common reaction to this news is, "Can't you condense it down to a few days?" While a more narrow focus does allow for a shorter program, the results described above can not be expected without a corresponding investment of time. In a shorter time frame, participants might learn about leadership, but they will not experience the deep, retooling of their habits of thought and behavior.
In addition to the assessment data, informal feedback and input is collected from individuals in the organization throughout and following the formal training.
Here what program graduates and mentors say:
"I think that it was very worthwhile for all of the participants and for the company. The leadership skills learned and the relationships developed during the past eight months will benefit the company into the future."
"I would not change anything. The stress of managing their time was a major benefit of the program."
"This was a worthwhile program that helped to develop future leaders."
"I thought the program was very good, very beneficial and something that people would actually use in the future."
"I think it is apparent in other meetings which people had attended this training and which ones had not."
"A very positive experience and a learning experience. It showed a lot of commitment on the part of the company."
"Very positive. It provided a way for our future leaders to bond as a team. I have applied several concepts to my work."
"I think it improves practical skills and will help the level of confidence - both in the group and in each other."
"Well organized and presented. Provided for self evaluation, personal and professional growth in big areas."