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From the Road

From the Road: Training Ritual 53-Collect Evaluations

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Steve Willis is a master trainer and vice president of professional services at VitalSmarts.Steve Willis is a master trainer and vice president of professional services at VitalSmarts.
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From the Road

I’m not a superstitious person, but I do have a set number of training rituals I adhere to. You know, things like always using a three water-cup rotation to ensure I stay hydrated, and never, never, never (and I mean never) training with spare change in your pocket—I find I’m just too tempted to break out in a stirring round of “I got change that jingle, jangle, jingles as I go trainin’ merrily along.”

One ritual I never miss is handing out the evaluations at the end of the course—because you need to know how you did, right? In fact, this ritual is so regular and significant that I started thinking of trainings in terms of the overall score from the eval. When people asked how my session had gone, I’d respond with something like, “Well, you know, it was about a 5.7.” I even got pretty good at predicting the overall scores before I finished the training.

Last week I taught back-to-back classes. The first session was okay (it was about a 5.4), but the second session was on track to be at least a 5.8 and maybe even a 5.9. Just as I was whipping the class into a late afternoon learning frenzy, with a 5.9 clearly in sight, a participant from the previous day peeked through the door and beckoned me out of the class.

I knew if I ducked out to talk to this guy, I’d be looking at a 5.4 at best. I looked over and saw he was still there waiting for me, so I took one last look at my 5.9, gave the class an exercise to work on, and slipped out of the back of the room.

He apologized for interrupting my session and then said, “I just wanted to come by and let you know that I had a crucial conversation this morning with my boss that I’d been putting off. It was a conversation I had thought was hopeless, but in the end it turned out great. In fact it worked out so well this morning, I’ve set up another one with my director for this afternoon. I just wanted to let you know that all that stuff you were teaching us really worked. Thanks.” We talked for a minute more before he took off for his second crucial conversation.

It’s experiences like these that help underscore that some rituals aren’t the driving reason for why we do things. In other words, it’s not all about the evals! Yes, they are helpful. Yes, they provide valuable improvement feedback. But, in the end, the reason we step in front of any class shouldn’t be the elusive 5.9, but to help individuals meet and overcome the significant challenges they’re facing. Thank you, Justin. I’m glad you took the time to remind me of this last week.

Steve Willis’ From the Road column will now be published in the Trainer Talk Newsletter, our e-newsletter for VitalSmarts trainers. To read past From the Road articles, visit the newsletter archive.

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Steve Willis

As one of the original trainers at VitalSmarts, Steve has been on the forefront of developing award-winning training programs, perfecting quality training platforms, and delivering training content that has influenced more than 500,000 people to date. In addition, Steve has trained and certified thousands of employees, managers, and trainers from Fortune 500 companies across the nation. read more

4 thoughts on “From the Road: Training Ritual 53-Collect Evaluations”

  1. Regarding the “bad grammar” in email. I’m curious if the same grammar shows up in her other written docs. There may be another aspect worth considering. Heavy “texters”, usually younger folk have slipped into texting shorthand where ruff is an acceptable replacement for rough. Every letter counts when your thumbs are flying on the keyboard so How are you? become How R U? Could this be a factor with her? I’d use the S.T.A.T.E tool to state your path. Share your facts; Tell your story, Ask for her path (story) which may be “I’m a texter”, Talk Tentatively, and Encourage testing. U shud B fine

  2. Some of the evaluations I have are on a scale from 1 to 10. 10 being the best. I always shot for 10 UNTIL ONE DAY someone wrote in 11!

    What do you think happened to my brain at that moment? What would your reaction be? From then on I shot for 12’s and 20’s. I was no longer limited to the 10’s. That meant to me that if I did not hit an 11 or 12 that my fall back would be a 10. That opened my whole world up.

    That participant, I hope, had shifted your perception past a 6 to infinity and beyond. Congratulations on making a difference in that participants life.

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