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Emotional Intelligence Training: Stop Settling for Only Feel-Good Results

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Post Emotional Intelligence Training: Stop Settling for Only Feel-Good Results   Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:46 pm

I am constantly on the lookout for information regarding Emotional Intelligence Training. Quite often I'm concerned when the training program and results are shared. Typically the study includes an explanation of the organizational need and the process used to implement the program, train internal trainers and roll out the program.

However, the "results" that are shared disturb me. They tend to include the indication that the participants liked the program, it was popular and engaged the group. In one case it appears the ultimate result was that participants were aware of their reactions.

These kind of results remind me of an experience I had when I first started working as an engineer for a global manufacturing company. The organization had three management courses for its professionals. The courses each lasted for an entire week and were held off-site at the company's training facility. Before I attended the program, I heard people talking about the course. Those who had participated shared that they thought it was a good program: they enjoyed it, thought the topics were interesting and the food was fantastic.

After a long period of time, I finally had the chance to attend. I was excited to go into a program where I expected to improve my management skills: conduct performance appraisals, provide feedback to improve people's performance, establish objectives, etc. However, during the program we didn't have the opportunity to improve any of those skills. Yes, we did discuss them and talk about them - and it was engaging. I had a good time participating and ate some wonderful meals. But I did not leave the program with a set of valuable skills.

With my engineering background I tend to want to make things that work. Engineers determine the purpose of the product, asking, "What do we want it to do?" Then the design and engineering is focused on the objective, aiming for effective and consistent performance.

It occurred to me that building training should be approached in the same manner. In other words, you need to first determine what objective or goals you want to achieve as a result of implementing the program. Then the design should include actual practice of techniques taught and feedback so that participants can achieve the desired objectives.

Then evaluating program effectiveness goes beyond just accepting that people liked it or they found it interesting. Four levels of measurement that are typically recognized include the following:

* First Level - the accommodations, materials and facilitator promoted learning.
* Second Level - plenty of practice for the techniques and skills taught was provided.
* Third Level - participants are applying the learning on the job.
* Fourth Level - there is an impact on the organization resulting from participants applying what was learned.

So if we review the studies that typically are shared and evaluate them against the four levels, we find that the results typically fall into the first and perhaps some of the second level of measurement (i.e., program was well accepted and increased participant self-awareness). However, the greatest value lies in levels three and four of evaluation. This economy demands that companies get the most value for their investment. Top level Executives are looking for increased sales, greater retention of valued workers, increased productivity and customer satisfaction, reduced health care costs, higher quality and much more.

Perhaps some of the programs that shared their case studies do achieve Level Three and Level Four results, but they need to measure the program to determine those results and then share them. They need to show that their program is delivering valuable-added benefits to individuals, customers and the organization.
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