Testing Your Knowledge & Skill

Rental business owners and operators tend to assume too much when it comes to what employees know and what they can do. When I taught college students enrolled in the two-year "Equipment Rental Management" program, I had to continually remind myself and my staff of the importance of "testing."

Tests in the form of oral and written quizzes take time to develop, time to administer, time to grade, and time to go over with the student. But finding out how much of the material presented is understood and retained is vital when teaching. Without the "evaluation" portion of the teaching process, one can't expect to achieve the sizable results that the training is designed to give.

What do you do when one or more of your employees return from a rental training seminar or workshop? Quiz them - both verbally and in writing. Doing this will demonstrate that you place importance in the subject of the training. It also assists you in making the point that learning, not just showing up for the training, is required for them to be sent to future training opportunities.

Attendance by itself does not mean the employee has learned anything. This is why it's so important to let employees know before the seminar that you will be giving them a written quiz when they return from the training to be certain they were actively in the learning mode and not just passing time.

In order to put together a written (or oral) quiz about a seminar, one would need to attend the presentation before or at the same time as the employees being tested. (Keep questions simple so the process of taking the quiz will help the employee remember the information longer.)

Testing is not only used to see how much the student has learned, but also how well the teacher has presented the material. It will also help you to pinpoint areas in need of additional follow-up training.

Training is an investment. Employees should know that training through seminars, copies of my books, or whatever form it takes is an investment - and like all investments, you expect a return on your investment. It is up to them to make this happen.

Without evaluating what their employees have learned, it would be difficult to judge whether they received a return on your investment.

Testing has value on many levels. It lets employees know that they are learning. For most employees, learning is a valuable motivator. Some employees will actually say they are bored no matter how interesting the subject matter. But most yearn for fresh information and skills once you give them a taste of the good stuff.

It's a good idea to give the employee a "pre-test" to get a baseline or starting point before starting the training experience. It can help you to determine training priorities - plus you will have proof concerning what training formats give you the bigger bang for the buck.

Remember, a very important part of the training process is finding out how much the employee has learned. In order to have a highly effective training program, you need to measure each employee's progress. Don't assume too much.