A long time ago when I was working for a training organisation, I was asked to deliver some customer service training to the front line of a large corporate client. I was so excited as it was the first piece of work that I had been offered directly. I rushed off, polished up my regular workshop and dived in. Within a few short hours of delivery, it became apparent the participants were well aware of the importance of customer service. Their difficulty in delivering the service was caused by their managers’ conflicting messages and regulations. It was a waste of money for the client and an important lesson for me to learn.
So how should you choose a training provider who can deliver the training you want to achieve your objectives?
Who to choose
If you have decided, you want to source an external training provider ask around for recommendations. Word of mouth is worth a lot more than a glossy brochure. There are some sites where you can advertise for the right person – check out Trainerbase.co.uk where you can advertise free of charge or search the trainers registered with the organisation. Once you have names, check out their websites. Do they seem to know what they are talking about? Are they up to date, accurate and clear with excellent grammar and punctuation (though I would say that.) What is their expertise level, experience and reputation? Do they have testimonials or are they willing to let you contact past customers.
Questions not answers
Firstly look for a provider who asks the questions and doesn’t simply tell you what they can offer. Questions like: “What is the purpose of the training and what do you want the participants to be able to do as a result of the training?” It is amazing the number of trainers not prepared to do that for fear of rocking the boat.
Make sure the provider is willing to help you to carry out a simple training needs analysis. It could be that the training you think you need is more likely a system failure, therefore, no need for training, or it’s more appropriate for a different group from the ones you first thought would benefit from the intervention.
Who is going to support the learners as they go through the programme? Even a one day workshop needs commitment and attention from a line manager. Your training provider should ask that managers brief and debrief before and after a workshop or on a longer programme provide ongoing supportive coaching.
If you are skills training, look for trainers who use brain friendly or accelerated learning techniques. Learning which takes place in a safe and fun environment sticks longer and involves learners who will assume responsibility for their skills development and relate it back to their workplace.
Check out samples of their learning materials, after all, you are paying for them. How do they present the handouts? In binders, folders or printed booklets. Are they appropriate for the experience level and do they allow for the participants’ learning styles and beliefs.
Cost versus value
Consider the costs and the value to you. Getting the right training at the right time can save money longer term, It may help you improve your bottom line or it maybe because you know you will benefit from a better-skilled workforce. Training should be considered an investment, not a cost and if it feels like a cost without being clear at about what you get from it, it maybe better not to train at all.
Trainers fees vary across the board. I am aware they tend to be lower than they were a few years ago. A training provider whether an organisation who subcontracts to a trainer to deliver to consultants and one person businesses they all have overheads, marketing and capital costs that need to be reflected in the daily rate. Whoever you choose make sure all the costs are included in the quotation. Costs such as fees, travel, subsistence, preparation, research and materials should be declared so there are no nasty shocks when the invoice comes in. Beware too cheap as well as too expensive.
There is a lot to consider when you want to bring someone into your organisation to help you meet a training need. But if you choose wisely you will find you have someone who will get to know you and your company, able to support your business objectives and facilitate skills development for a long time to come.
We feature a number of resources for managers, trainers and students on our sister website Quicklearn.biz. Visit our book Store for trainer notes and materials. Download a free white paper on Carrying out a training needs analysis.
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