Why Training Programs and New Year’s Resolutions Usually Fail

Most training programs yield about 15% effectiveness. New year’s resolutions work about 20% of the time. Why these dismally low success rates? Because most people fail to create and implement an action plan, otherwise known as Kirkpatrick Level 3 Behavior.

Why bother to create an action plan? Because if you do, you can expect a success rate of over 80%. 

Kirkpatrick Model

Level 4: Results

The degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training and the support and accountability package

Level 3: Behavior

The degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job

Level 2: Learning

The degree to which participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence and commitment based on their participation in the training

Level 1: Reaction

The degree to which participants find the training favorable, engaging and relevant to their jobs

Level 3 consists of two important parts:

  1. Critical behaviors

Critical behaviors are the few, key behaviors that will have to be consistently performed in order to bring about targeted outcomes

  1. Required drivers

Processes and systems that reinforce, monitor, encourage or reward performance of critical behaviors

Whether we are talking about training, or your resolution to get in shape, lose weight, quit smoking or spend more time with your family, the plan for success is the same.

First, get really clear on what you actually must do on a daily basis to be successful. Second, set up a system to hold yourself accountable and appropriately reward yourself when you do what you are supposed to do.

The key to success is deceptively simple in concept, so people think the answer is complicated. It isn’t. Like the old Nike slogan, just do it.

For example, if you have taught a remote leadership program, what did you actually ask participants to do on a daily basis as a result of the training? For example, you might say they need to talk via telephone or video conference with each direct report at least once per day.

How are you checking to see if they are actually doing these things? Perhaps you have back-end analytics in a video conference tool that can be used for reporting. Or, you could poll direct reports and ask them how often they meet with their supervisor.

If your remote leadership program participants are not talking with their direct reports daily, how will you get them back on track? If they are, how will you reward them for a job well done? For example, you could report the findings to the next tier of management and ask them to follow up with the supervisors that report to them. Those that are performing the critical behavior get praise, and those that are not are asked to start performing the critical behavior the next day.

If you want help creating a strong Level 3 plan, it’s exactly what we do in our bronze level certification program. You can also read about it in our latest book, Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation.

The same principles apply to your new year’s resolution. Have you set up a daily plan for the specific things you will do or actions you will take to be successful? Do you have a tracking system, or a way to hold yourself accountable? Have you given yourself an incentive if you are successful?

We wish you luck as you embark on your resolutions and your upcoming training programs this year. Set up and use a Level 3 action plan, and you will accomplish your goals!