Top 10 Things To Consider When Buying Training

April 14, 2015


So you have decided your team or a team within your organisation need some training. There is a requirement for an external provider and you begin the process of selection.

Here are 10 important considerations to ensure a successful outcome for your team and your business:

1. Training doesn’t happen in a vacuum

If you are deadly serious about achieving the right results the internal environment in the organisation must be supportive and focused. The objective for the training is clearly articulated and understood with all the key stakeholders in agreement and on stand by to drive performance initiatives. Too often training action plans are sabotaged by a lack of interest or understanding by management teams. I recommend all relevant people are briefed thoroughly about the goals, content and process of the training by the provider. It will cost more but will be well worth in terms of internal support and engagement. The training will have much more likelihood of actually working.

2. Make sure the provider is the right cultural fit

There are lots of training providers out there doing things very differently. To achieve results there will need to be synergy between the two organisations in terms of culture and expectations. It is a relationship after all. You need to like each other. Beware of providers who say they can deliver whatever it is you ask for. It is highly unlikely they can. Look for specialisation and experience in the particular type of training you are buying rather than a current supplier who has your course as an occasional offering.

3.Meet the trainer

Ensure the person who delivers the training is familiar with your organisation and is clear about what you are trying to achieve. They don’t need to be an expert necessarily. I have seen hugely successful training delivered by people who have very little inside knowledge of a sector or industry. There is less judgement and assumption. Great training is rarely a straight knowledge dump. Truly skilled facilitators will move a group of people to their own conclusions for change and improvement. The personality, cultural fit and capability level of the trainer is far more important than them “having worked in finance/law/retail” etc.

4. Make sure the training sticks

The chosen provider must have tried and tested methods of measuring the training and ways of helping you make the necessary changes to create business impact. They should feel comfortable in challenging you and not settling for a status quo. Performance improvement is a challenging process and requires change – sometimes on a major scale. Its not always pretty but surely a significant lift in results will make it all worthwhile. Don’t pick a training company who are merely happy to provide a nice day out of the office with meaningless feedback forms and nice sandwiches.

5. Instruct your managers and team leaders

Direct manager involvement is absolutely crucial. All attendees must have a pre training conversation to establish his or her objectives and expectations for the training. This provides a perfect coaching opportunity and means there is focus before the classroom training begins. If there is pre course reading be aware of it and discuss it. Post training conversations play a key part in supporting people as they make changes in the way they do things. Discuss his or her action plan and link it to performance goals and career development. This support will help ensure the motivation and capability lift which you get lasts longer and has more meaning.

6. Don’t cram in too much content

While I understand the desire to get as much from the training as possible, resist the temptation to try and do too much. Being realistic it is far more advisable to focus on one or two key development areas in manageable chunks. There is only so much information and behaviour change that can be achieved in a one or two day programme. Including too much normally means none of it is effective. This also goes for making the classroom sessions too long. Just because the training is still going strong at 6pm does not mean it is going well. Go for quality over quantity every time.

7. Don’t send the wrong people to the training

Don’t send people who really don’t want to go. They won’t get anything from it and will have a negative affect on everyone else and will ultimately make the training less effective. It is far more advisable to spend the budget on the employees who are keen to learn. Training can not be used as a punishment for poor performance. Focus on the right people – the people who see development as valuable and are not suspicious of it.

8. Run the training off site

The right environment is very important to ensure the programme goes well. One of the key components of training success is focus. The danger of running training in house is the inevitable interruptions and distractions which are bound to occur. This creates a sense the training is not high priority and that day to day activities take precedence. The room which is used should be comfortably large enough with lots of light and easy to get to for all of the attendees.

9. Complete and follow up action plans

Action plans are an essential ingredient in obtaining tangible results from training. A good trainer will allow enough time for completion of action plans at the end of the workshop and emphasise the importance of it. It is very important action plans are discussed post training and used to drive the performance improvement of an individual.

10. Allow people to practice

Don’t expect a complete performance change over night. Be realistic in the time frames where you expect to see some changes. Encourage the attendees to practice their new skills in the work place with out the fear of making a mistake. A great training provider will encourage post training support and be available to answer questions after the event.

(this article originally appeared here)

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