As a Trainer I love to receive feedback on how the sessions have been, how my delivery was and how useful it was for the delegates but when I reflect back on my early days as a trainer has this changed over the years?
Yes it has....
I was recruited internally for my trainer role, this was quite tricky for me at first as it meant I was training people that I'd previously managed but maybe more difficult than that, I was training my old team mates and in a lot of cases really close friends.
I remember handing out my first set of happy sheets after my first official delivery, feeling nervous about what would come back. Did my friends and old team mates accept me as a trainer; did they think I had done a good job??
I remember reading the evaluation feedback and feeling great, yes they had, the comments were fantastic, I felt like I had made the transition in to the new role and been accepted. This nervous dread every time I handed out a happy sheet stayed with me for a couple of years, and thankfully I had nothing to worry about, all the comments were great.
Then I remember being asked in a one to one – what improvements can you make in your delivery? I said I would review the feedback and see if there were any trends which would give me an idea of what else I could be doing.
I read through about 12 months’ worth of feedback, there was nothing in terms of suggestions from my delegates; it was a whole bunch of Jo is fab, Jo is great, Jo is an awesome trainer. All of which was nice to hear but none of it was going to allow me to develop and grow as a trainer.
I later came across the term – chocolate praise. That’s what my feedback was, it made you feel good for a bit but then you were left wanting more, something different, maybe even some criticism!
The dread I had handing out the happy sheets has disappeared, in fact now when I read comments I am almost disappointed to receive Jo is fab/great/awesome feedback. I want to know, I have pushed people, I want to know I have challenged them and forced them out of their comfort zone.
Training Evaluation for me shouldn’t be about a popularity contest, it should be honest and help me to improve and develop myself and of course the people who attend my training sessions.
So yes, we still have to send out (now all electronic) the level one evaluation to all our delegates but I am more interested in the results.
I now ignore the chocolate praise and search for the comments that I can actually use and work with. I track the performance of individuals, as for me, the true test is now about whether the delegate has made a change on the basis of my delivery not whether they preferred me to another trainer. I suppose we all mature in our roles and if you want to improve and push yourself then you need more constructive feedback and criticism in order to do that. Big smiley faces make you feel good for a few seconds but eventually you will crave something more, I certainly did and I think it made me a better trainer!
“Not so Happy with Happy Sheets” was contributed by MOL CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate in Learning & Development Practice learner Jo Waller. Jo is a Trainer for Customer Contact at Virgin Media based in Sheffield with 10 years of Learning and Development (L&D) experience.