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May 2010

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Hello,

Greetings to you from all of us on the Business Performance team. This month is a very exciting month for us and our customers as we announce the new version of our ever popular Training Tracker software package. In this month?s issue, we also continue our Q & A segment where we answer your questions on a variety of hot business and organizational topics. Be sure to download the latest edition of our catalogue.

Training Tracker Version 2.0 Out Now

The big news this month is our release of the new version of our training administration software. Many customers have found Training Tracker to be a very useful yet economical alternative to complex and expensive training management systems. As good as the best of these systems may be, they are not well matched to the needs of small- to medium-sized business owners and administrators managing a small number of departments in a large organization.

What can you expect from the new version of Training Tracker? Well, we have made a number of very significant enhancements and introduced some great new features. These include a new style interface, new reports and charts, a data migration wizard and import template, clearer navigation, improved data protection and guidance on customizing your own reminders and warning flags.

Managing Director, Leslie Allan, said at the release of Training Tracker, ?Our new click ?n? go reports and charts make reporting so much easier. Our customers can now simply select from one of the many predefined reports and charts and click a button. Their report or chart is then ready for presentation to the management team, clients or learners.?

The preset reports display participant activity, expenditure by department or training provider, training hours by department, trainer, training provider and more. The inbuilt reports and charts will also track and report training outcomes, results and purchase status. If a report is not exactly as you require, you can tailor any report or chart to your liking or even create new reports and charts.

If you have existing data, the new data migration wizard takes all the hassle out of importing your company data into Training Tracker and exporting it into another workbook. Upgrading from a previous version of Training Tracker is also easy. You can now transfer your data into the new version in a few mouse clicks. For a full list of enhancements, visit the Training Tracker product page. To find our more about the new version, download the Press Release.

Why not check out our try before you buy version. The free trial version and User Guide are also available for download from the Training Tracker product page.

FREE UPGRADE! We do our best to look after our customers. If you are an existing user, we will send you the new version of Training Tracker at no cost. Simply send proof of purchase to products@businessperform.com and we will promptly send you Version 2.0 to your email address. Please note that support for earlier versions of Training Tracker will cease on 31 July 2010. Write to us today to obtain your free Version 2.0 without delay.

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Should we use employee retention to gauge the success of courses conducted externally?

Q

Our organization uses the Kirkpatrick evaluation methodology to measure the success of our internal training programs. Is measuring the level of employee retention a good indicator of the success of employee development programs run by external training providers?

A The Kirkpatrick Model for evaluating the success of training programs looks at four levels of evaluation. These are (1) Reaction (What did the participants think of the program?), (2) Learning (To what extent did the participants learn?), (3) Behavior (Did participants change their behavior back on the job) and (4) Results (What benefits accrued to the organization as a result of the training?)

This framework is an excellent choice for measuring the worth of your development programs because it prompts you to ask these important questions:

(a) Why are we sending our people on this program? What end benefit to the organization do we plan to achieve?

(b) How do people need to behave differently once they return to work if we are to realize the expected benefits?

The fist question focuses you on Kirkpatrick?s Level 4 (Results), whilst the latter question utilizes Level 3 (Behavior). Level of employee retention is a metric that can be used when evaluating at Level 4. One important consideration to keep in mind if you use this metric is that there are many non-training variables that influence employee retention. Retention is influenced by external factors, such as the state of the economy, and internal factors, such as level of supervisory skills. You will need to think seriously about how you will separate these factors from the impact of the development program itself.

Secondly, you will need to ask yourself if you are retaining the right people. You may be retaining the people that are of least value in achieving your organization?s goals. If you are going to measure retention as an indicator of development program effectiveness, then consider measuring retention for just your high achievers and high potentials.

Thirdly, if you are using development programs only to improve retention, then this strategy could be a quite expensive way of achieving this aim. There are other, perhaps less expensive, ways of improving employee retention. Retaining employees is an admirable aim of any employee development program. However, you might want to consider using this metric as a secondary measure only. Focus on one or more significant measures based on productivity, efficiency, cost savings, etc. A more direct measure could be the number of new jobs and promotions filled internally. Development should be about helping people advance (upwards or sideways) in their career, so this may be a more apt primary measure.

Evaluating your programs at Level 3 (Behavior) is also important. If participant behavior does not change, then you won?t achieve the results you are aiming for. Two sources for identifying which behaviors your evaluation should be targeting are the pre-training briefing and the post-training debriefing. Here, get the employee?s manager to sit down with the employee before the training starts to discuss what the employee will learn and how the learning can be applied once they return. Application could center on their current role or a future role. Once the employee returns from training, the manger should sit down with the employee again to discuss what was learned, how the learning can be applied and what roadblocks need to be cleared for the learning to be applied. Expected behaviors, measurable objectives and timelines can then be written down and reviewed at each monthly follow up meeting.

Find out more about the Kirkpatrick evaluation model. When you are ready to evaluate your training programs, download our popular Training Evaluation ToolkitTraining Evaluation Toolkit pack. The Toolkit gives you a complete practical guide for measuring and reporting the impact of your workplace training programs at all four of Kirkpatrick?s Levels. Whether you are a novice or experienced professional, you will be able to plan your evaluation exercise, collect all relevant data, isolate non-training factors and then analyze and report the results convincingly to your key stakeholders. The toolkit is packaged with fully functional and customizable Microsoft Word forms and Excel calculation worksheets that you will use from the start to the finish of your training evaluation project. Only USD $50 per user. Download today.

How can I use my time more effectively?

Q

I?m a middle-level manager in a large manufacturing facility. I never seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything done. By the time I put out the fires for the day, there isn?t enough time left to do the important stuff.

A Not having enough time is a common complaint that we hear from managers at all levels. Here are two practices that can help you reclaim time for your most important activities. Firstly, at the end of each day, update your to do list for the following day and categorize each item into (H)igh, (M)edium or (L)ow importance. Also, mark urgent items with a (U). So, a task can be of low importance but urgent, such as returning a telephone call before the caller leaves for the day. Mark your strategy, planning and execution tasks as (H)igh priority. Each day, concentrate your efforts on the (U), (H) and (M) tasks, in that order. With any time left over, devote that to the (L) tasks.

Secondly, deal with your email and telephone messages in blocks. Choose to read, listen and respond at pre-set points in the day, such as mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Deal with each email only once by responding immediately, filing for reference, deleting, delegating to someone else or putting on your to do list.

With the time that you have recaptured, set aside one or two hours either at the beginning of your work day or at the end to work on your strategy and planning tasks. Use the start or the end of your day so that you can consciously and deliberately block out interruptions and get into a ?flow?. Inform your staffs that this is uninterruptable time. By following the above practices, you will use your time more efficiently and focus your efforts on tasks that make a real difference.

Project Management Guide eBookAre you wasting time on unprofitable projects and need help to get more out of your important projects? Check out our A Guide to Project Management for down to earth advice and lots of practical tools and templates.


Visit our website at www.businessperform.com for lots of expert guidance and practical tools designed to help you get ahead of your competition. Also, be sure to pass this newsletter on to friends and colleagues who want to stay up with what?s on. From all of us here on the Business Performance team, we wish you a productive month and look forward to communicating with you again soon.

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In This Issue
Training Tracker Version 2.0 Out Now

Should we use employee retention to gauge success?

How can I use my time more effectively?
 
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