Depending on your learning and development function, observations and quality assurance can be a regular occurrence or a side-note.
However you train the trainers, this blog will explore how you can transform your observation process into something phenomenal. Giving you a way to quality assure and encourage a learner-led, self-reflecting culture for your trainers at the same time!
So, now is the time to stop neglecting your trainers skill development and start investing in everyone. After all, trainers are responsible for making sure your people are performing to the best of their ability. If your trainers aren’t developing, your people aren’t developing. Makes sense right?
Observations and their well-engrained traditions
As mentioned above, traditional quality assurance mainly comes in the form of a sit-in observation with an assessor who has a check sheet to complete in-line with performance.
Often, quality assurance is widely overlooked. The majority of L&D functions do not routinely adopt objective, best-practice standards by which trainer performance can be assessed and measured. This, understandably, causes a reduction in the ability for companies to demonstrate that learning is being transferred into the workplace.
So why are our observations having so little impact?
Firstly, it’s not objective. After the observation you will (hopefully) discuss the events that occurred for the sake of feedback, however, there may be discrepancies between what the observer and observee believed happened. The problem with this is, if the observee disagrees with what the observer is saying, they are not going to take feedback into account or change their behaviour. The potential worth of the observation is therefore not seen by those being observed or by the observer and has very little impact.
Secondly, what if observers are looking for different things, or have different standards? This makes it very hard for progress to be measured by the trainer and also causes discrepancies for quality assurance, if observers are not all working at the same standard (i.e some are very strict, others lenient) how can you trainers all be quality assured to the same level?
Finally, observations don’t count as training. It’s the training interventions that follow observations that count as training. If your observations are the only ‘training’ you give your trainers, I can guarantee you they will not progress or adapt their behaviour accordingly. So actually train your trainers!
How can we make observations more effective?
- Share them, what I mean by this is to share the recorded observation across the team. Once the observation/practice has been recorded it can become a resource. This does a number of things, it allows less experienced trainers to have access to good practice, allows cross team collaboration, and it reduces the time constraints on observations. By recording practice, you can observe remotely and use it to collaborate. This allows other trainers to feedback on observations. You will reduce time and travel costs and increase the number of observations you are able to do as a company. Get your trainers to help each other out, collaborate and learn. By sharing observations, you share the knowledge that’s in your company and trainers can coach each other on their performance, taking observations to the next level.
- Record them, this objectifies the feedback given to the trainer and makes them more likely to take the feedback onboard. Also, by recording them you have real evidence of what happened, this makes sure your observers are all giving the same level of feedback. Finally, by recording practice you will be able to see the progress that your trainers are making. Now this is important, not just to make sure that your trainers are taking in your training interventions, but it’s also incredibly motivating for trainers to be able to see the progress they have made.
- Follow them up, if observations are not followed up you will not be able to measure progress and determine whether they have had an impact. Also, by following up observations we can determine whether the interventions we have put into place have been effective or not. Finally, by putting a date in with the observee to follow up, we also give the observation value. By giving the observation value we can help ensure that the feedback is taken seriously and implemented.
Side note… it is still important to do a sit in observation as a formal element of your learning and development function. But, as shown above, there are a number of things to make observations more regular, more effective and more collaborative. Observation do not have to be a formal part of L&D, they can be social, interactive, and a foundation for coaching. Give your observations the love and time they deserve and your trainers will train better than they ever have before. It’s about training the trainer.
A note on feedback
Ticked boxes from the delegates and end of workshop tests do not count as objective feedback about the trainer, filled out observation questionnaires/ feedback sheets don’t count either.
Objective, shall we define? Objective information or analysis is fact-based, measurable and observable. I hope you can see a difference between the two?
We must must must objectify feedback. Otherwise, we can often be biased, lacking in evidence and sometimes even incorrect. Objectifying feedback increases the worth of the feedback and exponentially increases workplace behaviour change.
Please can we move away from feedback questionnaires. THEY PROVE NOTHING. No work based evidence, no verifiable fact, no tangible outcomes. Yes, you get lots of lovely data, but having someone say they enjoyed the course and felt like it had impacted their behaviour doesn’t actually mean it has…
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