We pilot test training, don’t we? Isn’t an evaluation study or a needs analysis just as important to our success? Get your research team, your department’s two biggest nitpickers and the coordinator from your client department together and do a dress rehearsal.
Only during a dry run will you find out that your findings aren’t as crystal clear as you thought or that “MBO” or “TA” or “Behavior Mod” are taboo words in the client organization while “goal setting,” “interpersonal communication” and “performance management” are not. You’ll also get a test of the sell-power of your presentation from the client rep.
When you have bad news—deliver it first. Research by Linda Marshall and Robert Kidd of Boston University suggests that people prefer to hear bad news first, followed by good news. Though they aren’t sure, they suspect the contrast between the bad and the good makes the good seem better, while the bad placed a bit further back in “history” seems not quite so bad.
Whatever the case, bad news is still bad news and must be delivered with care. Don’t begin with, “Good morning. Your course really stinks. Now for the good news…” Steve Mayer of Rainbow Research, another Minneapolis research firm, cautions that bad news should be delivered directly and not unnecessarily minimized or sugar coated. “If you minimize bad news,” he says, “you rob your sponsor of an important learning opportunity.”
Anderson cautions not to overblow the good news either. “You might get away with one of those ‘This is the finest program of its kind we’ve ever had the inestimable pleasure to evaluate’ evaluations once— or twice— but people get awfully suspicious of that sort of syrupy thing,” he says.
A good model for delivering bad news is the fine arts review. People who review books, movies, plays, art shows and the like know that a bad review is a more difficult review to write, but often a more interesting review to read. The reviewer must compare and contrast, use examples and analogies, and generally construct a more persuasive argument than is necessary for complimentary reviews.
Edward F. Kelly, Syracuse University center for instructional development, believes that the literary criticism approach to evaluation is useful because it demands a public demonstration of justification on two fronts: “These claims are, in the first place, that the object either met or failed to meet a particular norm or set of norms and, in the second place, that these norms were themselves appropriate to the judgment.” Where data-testing techniques give a false sense of authority to a finding, the literary criticism approach requires argued defense of value judgments.
Source : Training Magazine