“Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.” Franklin P. Jones
Trainers make three common mistakes when they choose the best time to have their participants complete written evaluations.
Mistake #1: Waiting until the very end of a multi-day training program to hand out the evaluation sheets.
There are two major problems with this approach. First, the trainer misses getting immediate feedback on the first day of training that could be used to improve the remaining days.
Second, the recency effect means that the participants will be much more likely to give the trainer feedback about their most recent training experience. As a matter of fact, by the afternoon, participants frequently even have difficulty remembering what they did in the morning!
Remedy: Make sure to have participants complete a written evaluation for each day of the training program.
It is also a good idea to check participant satisfaction with the morning session just prior to breaking for lunch. This can be done quickly and easily by simply having the participants vote with the fingers of one hand. Five fingers mean that the participants are completely satisfied and one finger (caution participants to be careful which digit they choose) means there is a real problem that had better be addressed before the afternoon session. The trainer can request that participants who raised less than three fingers meet briefly with the trainer to discuss their concerns.
Mistake #2: Handing out evaluation sheets at the very end of a training session.
There are also two problems with this strategy. First, participants are ready to pack up and get going at the end of a training program. As a result, they often give short shrift to the evaluation, providing minimal feedback.
Second, the energy of the room diminishes significantly when the participants stop to write their evaluations. It doesn’t make sense to have the training end on a low note.
Remedy: Have participants complete their written evaluations before a closing activity that is more upbeat and celebratory.
Mistake #3: Emailing a link to an online evaluation sheet days after the training session.
If participants cannot remember the morning session by the end of the afternoon, imagine how useful their feedback will be after several days have passed.
Remedy: Email links to online evaluation sheets so that participants have them as soon as they return from the training program.
Participant feedback can be very useful to a trainer, as long as the feedback accurately reflects the participants’ training experience. The mantra for participant evaluations should be: the sooner the better. Also, don’t let the energy of the training session fade at the end of the day. Get the evaluations done before a closing activity that helps the program end on a high note.
May your learning be sweet.