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Performance Through People


Level 4 - Results

This is the final results that occur. It measures the training program's effectiveness, that is, "What impact has the training achieved?" These impacts can include such items as monetary, efficiency, moral, teamwork, etc.

While it is often difficult to isolate the results of a training program, it is usually possible to link training contributions to organizational improvements. Collecting, organizing and analyzing level four information can be difficult, time-consuming and more costly than the other three levels, but the results are often quite worthwhile when viewed in the full context of its value to the organization.

As we move from level one to level four, the evaluation process becomes more difficult and time-consuming, however, it provides information that is of increasingly significant value. Perhaps the most frequently used type of measurement is Level one because it is the easiest to measure. However, it provides the least valuable data. Measuring results that affect the organization is considerably more difficult, thus it is conducted less frequently, yet it yields the most valuable information.

The first three-levels of Kirkpatrick's evaluation - Reaction, Learning, and Performance are largely "soft" measurements, however decision-makers who approve such training programs, prefer results (returns or impacts).

Note the difference in "information" and "returns." That is, the first three-levels give you "information" for improving the learning package. While the fourth-level gives you "impacts." A hard result is generally given in a monetary value, while soft results are more informational in nature, but instead of evaluating how well the training worked, it evaluates the impact that training has upon the organization. There are exceptions. For example, if the organizational vision is to provide learning opportunities (perhaps to increase retention), then a level-two or level-three evaluation could be used to provide a soft return.

This final measurement of the training program might be met with a more "balanced" approach or a "balanced scorecard" (Kaplan & Norton, 2001), which looks at the impact or return from four perspectives:

  • Financial: A measurement, such as an ROI, that shows a monetary return, or the impact itself, such as how the output is affected. Financial can be either soft or hard results.
  • Customer: Improving an area in which the organization differentiates itself from competitors to attract, retain, and deepen relationships with its targeted customers.
  • Internal: Achieve excellence by improving such processes as supply-chain management, production process, or support process.
  • Innovation and Learning: Ensuring the learning package supports a climate for organizational change, innovation, and the growth of individuals.

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