Evaluating the Training Process

By Fred Smith

In the training process it is important to stop and evaluate the progress. I like to ask questions to determine the level of accomplishment.

 1. Is this person's job fitting well with his or her talents? If not, I haven't got a prayer of developing that person to his full potential. He may have to do something temporarily that doesn't fit, but it's my responsibility over the long haul to see that the job and the talents match. Short-term training and long-range development must be clearly differentiated. Is this a quick fix or part of a career plan? Does this fit the natural wiring of the individual? For example, you can't put a loner into a team operation. You may have a person who is an irascible curmudgeon. You can't make a public relations man out of him.

 2. How much willingness to do the job am I seeing? This goes beyond verbal expressions of "I really like this." I watch to see if the person is basically enthusiastic about opportunity, if this work is more than just something to fill the time. If I catch a sense of Well, I'll do it if you want me to, but I'm not really keen on it, I don't expect much. I want the person to have enough willingness to be enthusiastic. And I like to see ease of accomplishment in addition to willingness. Is there a natural rhythm and quickness to the learning?

 3. How consistent is the person's effort? Sporadic effort is not what I want. Long-term, consistent, day-in day-out effort is what pays off in an organization. Business, education or ministry can not be run by the stops and starts of the legendary hare; tortoises are needed to win the race.

You don't want someone who does things only when he feels like it. A friend told me one time, "The amateur performs well when he feels like it. The pro performs well whether he feels like it or not." Athletes talk about "playing hurt." The pro expects to play hurt. He doesn't call in sick. That's part of being a pro. One of my favorite poets, Rudyard Kipling, wrote of making the effort when "only the will says go."

 4. What are the objective results ? A lot of people give you a lot of activity, conversation, excuses—but if you really measure what they've done, you find little. Some get by for years without really producing. Our daughter talks to me about people in the financial services business who have"aptitude, but no apt-to-do." In our media and image conscious world we buy into the hypnotism of hype. The emperor's new clothes has become a current idiom for people and businesses who talk but don't produce.

I know a fellow right now whom people highly regard. Yet every time I've asked anyone specifically, "Tell me, what are you praising?" all I hear is "Oh, he's got personality. He's such a likable guy." But he's really never done much.

 5. Is this person willing to be evaluated? I'm not going to spend time developing somebody who resists having his results measured. There are particular group of people who find it difficult to be measured, while eagerly measuring others.

 Training is not an academic exercise. It is to develop the person to make a contribution to the organization. We, when training, must evaluate our trainees in an objective and effective way.