Depend­ing on your learn­ing and devel­op­ment func­tion, obser­va­tions and qual­i­ty assur­ance (train the train­er) can be a reg­u­lar occur­rence or side-note.

How­ev­er you train the train­er, this blog will explore how you can trans­form your obser­va­tion process into some­thing phe­nom­e­nal. Giv­ing you a way to assure the qual­i­ty of train­ing and encour­age a learn­er-led, self-reflect­ing culture.

Now is the time to stop neglect­ing your train­ers skill devel­op­ment and start invest­ing in it. After all, train­ers are respon­si­ble for mak­ing sure your peo­ple are per­form­ing to the best of their abil­i­ty and if your train­ers aren’t devel­op­ing, your peo­ple aren’t devel­op­ing either. 

train the trainer

Observations and their well ingrained traditions

As men­tioned above, tra­di­tion­al qual­i­ty assur­ance in train­ing and devel­op­ment main­ly comes in the form of sit-in obser­va­tions with an asses­sor who has a check sheet to com­plete in-line with performance. 

Often, assur­ing the qual­i­ty of train­ing is wide­ly over­looked. The major­i­ty of L&D func­tions do not rou­tine­ly adopt objec­tive, good-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 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 assure the qual­i­ty of all your train­ers to the same level?

Final­ly, obser­va­tions don’t count as train­ing. It’s the train­ing feed­back and 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. 

How can we make observations more effective?

  • Share them. 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 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 train­ing 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. 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. 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 train­ing 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. Obser­va­tions 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. Nei­ther do filled out obser­va­tion ques­tion­naires or feed­back sheets. Objec­tive infor­ma­tion or analy­sis is fact-based, mea­sur­able and observ­able. Sub­jec­tive analy­sis is feed­back influ­enced by a per­son­’s feel­ings, tastes and/or opinions.

We must always give objec­tive feed­back, oth­er­wise, we can be biased, lack­ing in evi­dence and some­times even incor­rect. Objec­ti­fy­ing feed­back increas­es the worth of the feed­back and expo­nen­tial­ly increas­es work­place behav­iour change. 

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Enhanc­ing your train the train­er observations
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