Despite years of strong evaluation efforts in the United States,
evaluating training only recently became a major topic for human
resource professionals in Japan. Several Japanese companies have
begun to think beyond the traditional one-to-three-day training
courses and strive to create a comprehensive system for improving
human performance. They question the value of subjectively designed
courses, look at processes that facilitate behavioral change and
knowledge transfer, and are concerned with connecting training
programs to corporate strategy. Interest in more scientific
evaluation approaches and analysis has increased significantly.
In response to this growing interest in ROI and evaluation, Japan's
Human Resources Development Association surveyed 1,000 Japanese
organizations to study the methods, technologies, and skills that
can improve training assessments.
While at first glance the survey results indicated that training is
connected to business challenges, further analysis shows that this
connection is not being made sufficiently. Because company
challenges are changing rapidly, human resource policies need to be
well coordinated with corporate strategy, and companies need to
review and adjust these policies more regularly.
The good news is that 90 percent of the companies surveyed evaluate
their training programs. The not-so-good news is that 63 percent of
the respondents feel that their evaluation assessments are
inadequate. Specifically, most of the companies do not use
evaluations to compare training effectiveness to other investments,
nor do they relate training to their company's performance.
This led to three major topics of concern:
- human resource skills, particularly in assessments and needs analysis
- training methods, from e-learning to on-the-job training
- training themes, from working with new hires to career counseling and coaching.
Few human resource departments in Japan can confidently say that
their training programs are contributing to their company's
performance. Management will not be impressed by the hard work of
human resource professionals who design training programs that
don't connect to their company's specific business challenges.
While well along the right path, many Japanese organizations need
to clarify management challenges and show how human resource
programs can help meet those challenges.
Uichi Tsutsumi is an evaluation professional at the Human
Resources Development Association in Japan. You can reach him
This article was translated by Kyoko Watanabe firstname.lastname@example.org and Pat Patterson