When is the best time to get out the happy sheet?

This article, written by Alexis Kingsbury, originally featured on HRZone.com.

‘Happy sheets’ (training feedback forms) are used frequently by training and L&D professionals to collect feedback about development resources.

They are typically handed out at the end of a training session, and attendees asked to fill them in before they leave.

However, when is the best time to use them and does it matter?

The end of the session seems like a sensible time to ask for feedback – the attendees have learned all the content, reflected on how to apply it, and are hopefully starting to plan what they’ll do differently.

However, this is also the time when they’ll be packing their things and trying to get out of the door as soon as possible. Completion rates tend to drop as a result, and quality of feedback with it.

Does it matter? Well, let’s look at why we bother using them…

What do we want from happy sheets?

Happy sheets can be used for collecting:

  1. Feedback to improve the specific course / resource attended
  2. Feedback on how to improve resources provided by L&D more widely
  3. Social proof / testimonials to use when promoting the course to others
  4. Referrals / registrations for other resources

1. Feedback to improve the specific course / resource attended

Getting feedback to evaluate and improve upon your development resources is crucial if you are going to improve the performance of employees, and increase the value that L&D deliver.

Specifically, you can ask attendees:

  • What went well / was most useful (and should be kept in future sessions)
  • What didn’t go well / was least useful (so should be removed or replaced)
  • How the session compared to expectations (and whether it lived up to the promised outcomes)

2. Feedback on how to improve resources provided by L&D more widely

Feedback needn’t be limited to only the session attended – you can find out how to improve the resources L&D provides more widely, and how this session fits in.

Specifically, you can ask:

  • How this session compares to other courses / resources (and whether it should be learned from or improved)
  • What other training or support is required or would be useful (either as a logical next step from this training, or would have been a useful prerequisite)

3. Social proof / testimonials to use when promoting the course to others

Testimonials help employees evaluate whether a course is likely to be useful to them. Use them when promoting courses to other employees, helping you to increase training attendance.

Specifically, you can ask attendees to reflect on:

  • What they expect to think / do differently as a result of what they learned
  • To what extent they would recommend others attend the training

4. Referrals / registrations for other resources

If you want to further increase training attendance (a common problem for L&D, and killer of ROI), you can use this great opportunity to get referrals or registrations.

Specifically, you can encourage attendees to identify:

  • Who else would benefit from the training (broad groups & specific people)
  • What other training / resources they’d be interested in next attending

Phew! That’s a big ask of your attendees at the very end of a training session!

So to ensure there is time and consideration given for these, I suggest you distribute and get attendees to complete the happy sheet earlier.

But when?

You want a significant amount of learning to have taken place first, but still have time to address any major gaps they identify…

As a result, I suggest you get people to complete the ‘happy sheet’ just before the last comfort break (or before the last topic if you don’t have breaks planned).

This works well because you’ve still got their attention, they’re still engaged to learn the next bit, and the break gives you a chance to review the responses.

As a result:

  1. The happy sheet can actually help them reflect and think about what they’ve learned, what questions they should ask in the final part of the session, and how they will use what they’ve learned.
  2. You can review the answers in the break, to identify any big gaps you can cover before the session ends e.g. “I was hoping for more practical examples” or “I can’t see how to apply this to sales presentations”.
  3. They will have time to give well considered answers, including useful feedback, testimonials and referrals that help you improve and support learning more widely.

So, don’t leave happy sheets to the end, bring them out earlier and get a lot more out of them!

Alexis co-hosted a webinar with Jon Kennard (Editor of TrainingZone) on 25th June on how to improve training attendance. Click here to watch the recording.

About The Author

Alexis Kingsbury

Alexis is founder of the Parentpreneur Accelerator and Making Greatness Ltd. He is a serial entrepreneur, with experience creating start-ups in a variety of areas, particularly in SaaS and EdTech. He is also a lucky husband and proud dad, and now helps other 'parentpreneurs' like him to achieve their dreams of having successful businesses, making a difference in the world, and spending time with the people they love.

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