Tip #504: When Good Intentions Make Life So Much Harder

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.”  Joseph Priestley

I work with different managers and subject matter experts to design the content and activities for their sections in a two-day new employee orientation training program. I then emcee the program.

This time, since there were a number of new presenters and/or new content, it occurred to me that the session evaluations should be designed to give each presenter feedback.

So, I designed an evaluation form for each day in a table format that gave the section title and presenter’s name on the left and asked for ratings for facilitator, content and activity on the right. The rating scale was 1-5, with 5 the highest rating.

There was a space for written comment in the box immediately below.

At the end of the evaluation form, there was a place for the participants to rate the entire day and write in: the personal significance of workshop, their recommendations for improving the training, and any additional comments.

I realized when I designed the forms that manually collating the ratings and comments on the evaluations would be time-consuming. However, I thought that the individual feedback would be very valuable.

I had to give myself a note to continually remind the participants to evaluate each presenter immediately after the presenter’s section. This ensured that: (1) all presenters were evaluated and (2) the ratings were based on current experience rather than later recall. This also minimized the time needed at the end of the session for the participants to complete the evaluations.

As a result, there were 37 participants who rated 12 presenters on Day One and 12 other presenters on Day Two.

It took me over two  hours to complete a summary of the Day One evaluations, and the same amount of time to complete a summary of the Day Two evaluations.

If this had been an online survey, the program would have collated all of that automatically. All I would have had to do was print out the summaries. However, there were many reasons that made it a poor idea to rely on an online survey.

Most of the participants had traveled (in some cases, long distances) to the training site in the morning and needed to locate their hotels after the session. Once they found their hotels, got unpacked and had some dinner, there was no guarantee that they would have sufficient energy or access to a computer to complete the survey. Also, by that time, their ability to remember each presentation would be severely limited.

At the close of the second day, the participants had to travel back home (again, many traveling long distances). By the time they got home, etc., there would have been the same problems with completing the survey online.

I really don’t want to spend the time manually collating the evaluations. I suppose I might find someone else to do that. But, barring that option, do you have any suggestions?

May your learning be sweet.


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