Maximizing the Impact of Commercial Learning and Development Training by Utilizing the Kirkpatrick Model

Jimmy Christie
March 23, 2023

Commercial Learning and Development (CL&D) teams at Life Science companies can drive better business outcomes by utilizing the Kirkpatrick Model, which is the gold standard for assessing program performance. This model measures training effectiveness on four levels: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results. By capturing and standardizing data and creating a continuous learning environment, organizations can gain valuable insights into the impact of their training initiatives. This blog breaks down the four levels of the Kirkpatrick Model and provides strategies for success to help companies take their training initiatives to the next level.

The Four Levels of the Kirkpatrick Model

Training and development programs are vital to the success of any organization, particularly for commercial teams at pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies. By standardizing data and consolidating learning technology, organizations can better utilize the four levels of the Kirkpatrick Model to evaluate behavior change and track outcomes. Let’s examine the four levels of the Kirkpatrick Model and how they might be used to enhance CL&D programs in the Life Sciences industry.

Level One: Reaction – This level measures learners’ satisfaction with the training. It examines the degree to which learners find the training engaging, beneficial, and applicable to their job. This data can be collected through learning management systems, survey results, and qualitative feedback from the learners.  Level One insight is important in determining whether the training is perceived as useful to the learners.

Level Two: Learning – This level measures whether the learning has stuck, and quiz scores are the main data point. Companies have been able to collect this information through gamified quiz applications and pre- and post-training tests utilizing the same questions and rubrics. Level Two insight is important for assessing whether training participants are retaining what they learned.

Level Three: Behavior – This level measures the impact of training on behavior. It assesses the degree to which learners apply what they learn on the job. This data can be collected through coaching applications, which should be used to reinforce, monitor, and encourage performance. It is important to standardize and repeatedly gather this data. Level Three insight is critical to understanding if learners are putting their new knowledge and skills to use, which should have a positive impact on outcomes.

Level Four: Results – This level measures the impact of training on targeted outcomes. For CL&D teams, this means connecting training to the bottom line. To get to Level Four, organizations must define the results they want to impact and work backward to assess whether they have the systems and processes in place to measure behavior change, learning, and reactions. Level Four insight is powerful because it is the ultimate evidence of the value of training.

Using the Kirkpatrick Model, CL&D teams can provide strategic insights to all departments with recommendations based on measured behavior and results. By defining targeted business outcomes and KPIs and identifying opportunities and gaps in process and technology, companies can move up the Kirkpatrick Model ladder and improve their training effectiveness. We will now examine strategies for success in moving up the ladder.

Moving Up the Ladder: Strategies for Success

You can take your CL&D training initiatives to the next level and maximize the impact of your programs by implementing the following tactics.

  1. Clearly define the key performance indicators (KPIs) required to achieve the desired business outcomes.
  2. Gain a thorough understanding of your organization’s technology stack and where all of your training-related data is stored.
  3. Identify opportunities and gaps in your systems and processes that would impact the ability to measure your KPIs, and take action to bridge those gaps.
  4. Develop a strategy to consolidate and visualize the data required to assess your KPI progress.
  5. Adopt a “Think big, start small, act fast” approach and begin with one initiative, such as a product launch or a new hire onboarding program.
  6. Collect and analyze all Level One (Reaction) data and develop a plan to understand Level Two (Learning) data through quizzes and pull-through initiatives.
  7. Utilize “all things coaching” (including field coaching reports, certifications, and video coaching scenarios) to set your organization up for success. Utilizing these effectively and measuring them over time is crucial to understanding Level Three (Behavior) change within your organization.
  8. Develop a strategy to tie behavioral changes to measurable business outcomes (Level Four). Identify where the business outcome data resides, how it is collected and how often, and how you can link it to individual field reps. Once you have individual field rep performance data, you can map it to the Level Three data for each rep.

Benefits of Utilizing the Kirkpatrick Model

  1. Measurable Results: By using the Kirkpatrick Model, companies can measure the effectiveness of their training programs at all levels, including business outcomes. This allows for a more data-driven approach to training and development, as well as the ability to track progress and make adjustments to training programs as needed.
  2. Strategic Insights: The Model allows training and development departments to proactively provide recommendations and insights to other stakeholder departments such as Sales, Marketing, and Medical Affairs. Companies can maximize their overall performance by making informed decisions based on a thorough understanding of the impact of training on field rep behavior and business outcomes.
  3. Improved ROI: By understanding the effectiveness of their training programs and making data-driven adjustments, companies can ultimately improve their bottom line. The ability to tie training programs to business outcomes and provide strategic insights can lead to increased revenue, decreased costs, and improved overall performance.

In conclusion, CL&D teams can enhance their training programs and drive better business outcomes by using the Kirkpatrick Model. By measuring training at each of the four levels, organizations can obtain valuable insights to ensure training impact. By implementing the above strategies for success, CL&D teams can optimize the results of their programs and initiatives, ultimately enhancing overall company performance. Employing a technology platform that brings all the data together to evaluate training and commercial initiatives using  Kirkpatrick’s Model will equip organizations to continuously improve the effectiveness of their programs and, in turn, drive better business outcomes.
Learn more about how to use data when measuring performance and the ROI of training programs. Watch our Data Driven Approaches Webinar.