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focus_Training Effectiveness vs. Performance Management

Training Effectiveness vs. Performance Management

By Bill Dewey

Like many of you, I have been constantly asked, how are we measuring the effectiveness of the training we are providing? For the most part, I struggled to provide an easy answer. And then it hit me, training effectiveness is easy to measure. I was simply complicating the answer.

Let’s say the purpose of training is to prepare, teach, educate and inform what is needed to successfully and consistently complete a process/task. Then, training effectiveness occurs when, upon completing training, the individual has obtained the knowledge (as measured through assessment), and has demonstrated successful completion of the task, procedure, process or work instruction (measured through observation).

When both of these occur, the person is “qualified” to perform and therefore the training provided was effective. We have to “assume” the person will transfer or apply what was learned back on the job.

However, if during training a person cannot demonstrate knowledge and/or successful completion, then immediate re-training is required. If more than one person cannot demonstrate knowledge and/or successful completion (of the same process/task), a review of the training deliverable is required.

Where things become murky is when someone who has been “qualified” to perform, fails to successfully perform. Oftentimes the knee-jerk reaction is they need to be re-trained. The simple fact is re-training may not be the issue or solution.

Let’s go back to the definition of training effectiveness. If we agree training effectiveness occurs when someone has successfully completed the training and has been deemed “qualified,” it would seem logical they don’t need to be re-trained.

Why? Because unless something in the process changed without communication, this person has successfully completed the tasks in the past. This is now a performance management issue.

So now we can delve deeper and ask the question: What is the difference between training effectiveness and performance management?

Performance: The accurate, consistent and acceptable completion of the steps associated with a process or task.

Performance management (audit): The determination of whether an individual “is or is not” performing the process/task in a consistent and acceptable manner (not a measure of training effectiveness).

Performance action: Consequences if a trained person fails to complete a process/task in a consistent and acceptable manner (retraining may not be viable for someone who has been trained but has stopped performing).

Ready for the bombshell? The vast majority of people responsible for managing and/or coaching others have never been fully trained on the tasks their direct reports are expected/required to complete. Thus the knee-jerk reaction of “the training was ineffective.” Perhaps it is more of a question of how is performance being managed.

So there you have it: A very simple view on the difference between training effectiveness and performance management. While some may not agree, the purpose of this article is to simply look at things from a different lens. Or perhaps, I need re-training.


Bill Dewey is global R&D training director for Indivior. Email Bill at

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