Performance-based training evaluation in a high-tech company
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Training expenditures by Americas business reached $55.3 billion by 1996 estimates. Despite this investment there may be little demonstrated return from business training efforts. Literature reviewed contains ample information on evaluation techniques, yet it is seldom applied by business training groups. A national survey indicated less than 25% of training was evaluated against business results in the companies surveyed. Past research presents reasons for the lack of effective training evaluation ranging from trainer ignorance to lack of business support. This study reviewed the five-year history of a technical training program in high-tech industry to examine the relationship between training and job performance. Utilizing a case study approach, the author examined the impact of organizational factors on training capability and the resulting implementation of evaluation and instructional methodologies. Correlation analyses identified significance and strength, by year, of demonstrated relationships between training and job performance. Case study data provided information on the factors impacting these relationships. The case study yielded a clear pattern of effective program practices that evolved over the five years. The correlation analyses revealed significant relationships between training and job performance beginning in the third year. While initial strength of these relationships was weak, it increased somewhat by year five. Several factors emerged that had significant impact on the relationship between training and job performance. Business leader support and involvement was crucial to early program development and continuance. The utilization of effective training and evaluation methodologies produced significant relationships between training and job performance. However, these tended to be weak and declined with business environment changes. A pattern of high complexity, constant change, and inconsistent job parameters reduced the ability to predict and train to clear job performance indicators. This was exacerbated by continual changes in business management personnel and style that reduced valid business inputs into training design and evaluation. This research found a significant relationship between training and job performance when effective evaluation and training practices were in place. Variability in significance and strength of this relationship appear related to job context, the rate of change and complexity, business inputs, and business management style and alignment.