I appreciate your concern for measuring the training effectiveness. However, we need a little more information.
What is the nature of your industry? What is your finished product? What is your designation? Do you work in the training department and if yes, then do you conduct training or get it done by someone else?
What types of training programmes do you conduct? What is the break up of those programmes? You have expressed your concern because you could not measure training effectiveness of the soft skills training but then were you able to measure the effectiveness of the other trainings? If yes, what are those, how did you measure it and what were the parameters of the measurement?
Outcome of the training programme, whether soft skills or otherwise, should result in:
a) Increase in customer satisfaction (internal or external)
b) Increase or decrease of some ratio
c) Reduction in consumption of the resources or
d) Reduction of process turnaround time of some process
What target did you set for yourself to achieve any of the above goal? For how many training programmes did you achieve this goal and for how many you could not?
By the way, how do you measure the productivity of the organisation or /operations department? Do you measure the following:
e) Cost of Quality (COQ) and Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ)
f) Measurement of product yield and productivity
g) Measurement of product cost
h) Quality – Productivity Ratio
When you start conducting training on the above, you do not have to bother about soft skills training.
About Positive Thinking: - Positive thinking is good but beyond a point it does not work. It is a very basic thing. If the company’s culture is result oriented, then whether employees think positive or negative does not matter as they will be forced to think positive otherwise, results cannot be achieved.
Earlier, I have given comprehensive reply on employee training. You may click the following link to refer it:
Once you identified the target participants, take pre-training 360 degree feedback of the participants from his Line Manager, Peers and Customers (People with whom s/he is continuously interacting with). This is not a simple task though, and many trainers / training role-holders skipped this step! However this exercise will help you prepare your initial data point i.e. where the training participants stand before attending the program. Upon completion of the training program, and after considerable time gap, say after 3-6 months (minimum time requires to exhibit applications of learning) take 360 degree feedback again from the same people you took first feedback. This will give you the second data point i.e. changes in his/her behavior or his/her improved ways of doing things. The delta of this two data points will show effectiveness of your training programs.
Like you said, it is really difficult to measure the training effectiveness. And need not go for effectiveness measurement for all training programs.
You have given your inputs on measurement of the training effectiveness. However, have you implemented whatever that you have written and if yes, then would you mind to give the example? Your example would register better on the minds of the readers of this post.