The best training programs constantly evolve. And the best way to inform that is through the feedback of training participants. In this post, we’ll explain how to do that using training feedback surveys.
What is a training feedback survey?
Training feedback surveys are used by professional training providers and in-house HR departments. They can be both pre and post-training. The former could be to gather and assess training needs. The latter to determine the satisfaction level of delegates, and effectiveness of training content.
Asking training delegates for feedback is a win/win. You get to find out what is really worth investing in for the best outcome. And if these are your employees, you’ll leave them feeling more valued and productive.
Like with any survey, it can be hard to know what the right approach is. Key topics, question structure, length and the method of delivery all play their part. Even the email subject lines you use too! Get it right and you’ll optimize the number of responses. Get it wrong and you’ll need to remind people to take the survey. If it’s too onerous, they might not give you any feedback at all.
The two main types of training feedback survey
Training needs assessments
The training needs assessment reduces weaknesses and gaps in knowledge to help a company achieve its goals. It can also act as a marker for current ability and confidence that you can measure against in future. Training needs assessments are typically employed by in-house HR departments.
The idea is to use them before planning any training. The risk with these surveys is that they necessitate detailed questioning. After all, the objective is to gain a comprehensive understanding of training requirements. That doesn’t mean you have to send it all out in one go. It may be easier on respondents to instead stage the survey in a number of phases.
Training satisfaction surveys
If you deliver any kind of training, a training satisfaction survey is appropriate for you. It can tell you how worthwhile the training was and how it was received. It can also give insights into the impact it’s had on delegates and their work. Crucially, it can help you to improve for next time on any number of aspects of the training experience.
You might want to ask for specific feedback on:
- The course/modules
- Training style
- Course instructors
- General administration
Training satisfaction survey questions
The most reliable, actionable feedback is gathered soon after the experience. It stands to reason. Any delay between completing the training experience and answering the survey will reduce accuracy. Delays of several days or more can also diminish response rates too. In short, it’s best to get training feedback as soon as possible, if not immediately after the event. Post-training surveys, however, come with their own challenges with regard to timing. Timing is key when it comes to gathering feedback.
One issue is training exhaustion. People who’ve just been through a whole day’s training might need time to mentally decompress. Just consider their perspective of being given a survey too soon. Perhaps they’ve travelled to a training venue and face a long journey home or back to work. Are you potentially in danger of demanding feedback at an insensitive time?
Also consider that some delegates are very keen to get busy applying what they’ve learned. Or get back to whatever they had to put on hold to attend the training course. In any case, they don’t have the time or inclination for a lengthy survey response. The survey needs to be quick and easy to fill out. Analyst firms like McKinsey find this time and time again (see our summary of their analysis here). Long-form surveys invariably suffer from low response rates, so go for something shorter.
Many specialist training providers achieve high feedback rates by using fast and simple 1-click surveys. These could feature just a single question, or small groups of questions.
Example Training Surveys
How relevant was the training content?
This is an excellent, simple question. It’s designed to find out how much the training met the respondent’s expectation. If it wasn’t relevant, something needs to change. This can be the catalyst for other questions that drill deeper. For example, it might not have been the course itself but misleading marketing information that led them to enrol.
At the very least, ask respondents to leave a comment explaining more about their response. You can use this qualitative data to work on for next time. Ideally, you’d have a mechanism like this one for determining underlying response ‘drivers’.
Did you learn anything new?
This is an easy way to find out how useful and worthwhile the training was overall. Again, comments and follow-up questions could be used to find out more detail.
Was the size of your training group appropriate?
This question can help you to understand how conducive the training group size was to learning new information. You do this by comparing how individuals respond to different questions. It might be that the group was too large and the respondent didn’t feel that their needs were met. This can help to adjust for next time.
How would you rate the quality of the training?
This broad question can help to gauge how the participants viewed the training overall. Be prepared in advance with a plan to respond to delegates who respond negatively. This is a golden opportunity to address any hot issues. As with the other questions, you can also drill down into more specifics.
How would you rate the quality of the instructor?
This is one question to investigate why participants might have had a bad training experience. You could also this top level question and then ask more specifically:
- How confident was the instructor in their knowledge of the course content?
- Were they running the course at a good speed?
- How organized were they?
- How enthusiastic did they seem?
A comments box would be helpful for this, as any constructive feedback could then be passed onto the instructor.
Would you recommend this course to colleagues?
This is essentially the Net Promoter Score (NPS) question, asked at the course level rather than the company level. This should validate if the delegate thought the training was worthwhile. Consider using a 1-10 scale for responses rather than a straight yes/no. You’ll also discover who actively enjoyed the experience and would advocate it, and who came away with a negative experience. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a great metric to track and improve on over time.
- Read more about NPS in our Ultimate guide to Net Promoter Score (NPS)
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Act on training feedback survey results to continually improve
You did it! With the right approach, you’ve gathered lots of useful, up-to-date intelligence. But this has no value unless you act upon it.
Make sure you put this data to good use. Firstly by applying improvements to course content, environment and other aspects. Secondly by acknowledging the feedback by thanking those who provided it, and addressing any issues fast. Anyone who takes the time to give feedback wants to know it’s being acted on.
If any of these post-training evaluation questions have got you inspired, sign up for a free Customer Thermometer account to design and send your own training survey in minutes.