Feedback Forms

Feedback forms at the end of a training serve a number of purposes:
1.            they are a valuable resource giving information about how well the training was received
2.            They are a source of education for you the trainer, to help you improve, adapt and keep you on track
3.            They are an opportunity for the participants to express themselves
4.            they are a basis for establishing what further training or support may be necessary.

Viewed as part of the training cycle, they help close the training circle of:
Identify the Training need
Establish a training purpose
Create a training programme with clearly defined outcomes
Deliver the training
Gather feedback to see if it worked!

Often trainers can get too close to their feedback:
too strong a sense that the feedback is about them.
In a limited sense it can be - hence purpose number 2 above:
'a source of education for you the trainer, to help you improve, adapt and keep you on track'

However this should be kept in balance with purpose number 3
'an opportunity for the participants to express themselves'

Some of the time participants are in fact feeding back on themselves:
'I did not see the point…'
'Not enough…'
'I did not like….'
Viewed individually such forms can be unpleasant reading for the trainer, which is why feedback should never be viewed in isolation.  A participant who has a negative view on their work - or even their life - is unlikely to offer superlatives for anything!
I am often mystified by a form that rates the training as 'Average' with a comment at the bottom that says they learnt lots of really useful stuff and enjoyed the day.
For some people 'Average' is as good as life gets!
Equally you will get a few:
'Great…'
'The trainer was wonderful…'
'Best day of my life…'

And sometimes it is the same course on the same day!

Therefore for feedback to be useful it needs to be viewed in bulk and dispassionately;
It is not primarily about You; it is about Them and their response to the training.

However if a lot of participants are writing:
'I did not see the point'
that may indeed be a reflection on the relevance of the training.
If more people than last year are writing:
'I did not see the point'
that may be a reflection on you.
If half the participants are writing:
'I did not see the point'
and the other half are writing:
'Brilliant'
that may be a reflection on the wrong mix of people in the room together.

Feedback is about information, not judgement.
Many trainers could take the advice from a mentoring system I was involved in a few years ago where one of the key tenets was almost like an oath:
'I will listen to input from my mentor and I will not be offended!'

There is much to learn from your feedback.
One of the first things to learn:
'Don't take it personally!'
(and that applies as much to glowing as to damning feedback)
 

This article was written by Michael Ronayne, director at the College of Public Speaking and four-time UK National Public Speaking Champion.

To discover more of Michael's top training techniques, check out his professionally accredited Train the Trainer course here