Adding to the traditional Kirkpatrick/Phillips model, level 6 is an evaluation that measures your learning climate and tells you which environmental factors are most affecting the impact of your training on the job. That is, things are happening in the employee’s immediate work environment that are either supporting or sabotaging the impact of your training?

Once you know which climate factors are causing your training to succeed or fail, you can design a stronger, more effective bridge from training to business impact. This fortified bridge will keep employees safe as they traverse the treacherous path from the training experience to bottom-line results and help them avoid the many pitfalls that all too often cause training to fail.

I call level 6 a transfer climate analysis because it tells us exactly which climate factors are most important when employees attempt to transfer what they learned in training. In fact, the amount of behavior change, productivity improvement and return on investment that all participants are able to achieve will solely depend on the success of this transfer. After many years of research, I can say with absolute confidence that these climate elements are so powerful at predicting the overall impact of your training that they can make or break your entire initiative. I see it is as the most critical because the results of this additional level of analysis can tell you how to improve the impact and ROI of any training program within your organization.

Levels 1-6

After many years of presenting impact studies, I have yet to encounter a business group that does not find level 6 evaluation the most interesting and informative piece of an overall results presentation. Measuring levels 1 through 5 is critical, but if you stop there, you’ve only told your stakeholders how their training is working and not why it is working. Level 6 allows you to answer the most critical questions of all: Why does training work for Mary and not for Joe? What can we do to change their climates and improve their training’s impact in the future?

As training professionals, we put so many resources into trying to find the most effective training solution out there, when the first thing we need to fix is what’s in here – our internal training climate. We spend so much time and money looking for the next best thing and dreaming up the most creative ways to deliver it that the true predictors of success and impact slip right through our fingers.

Instead of being so quick to look for new or different training, our first and hardest look should be at our current training and the simple climate factors we can fix right now. Since leaders at all levels are able to implement and affect these positive climate changes, creating a great climate should swiftly move to the forefront of any training strategy. Especially at times when you need to stretch the training budget, measuring and capitalizing on these factors can help you deliver your initiatives in a way that squeezes every last penny out of those precious training dollars.