Tips for Purchasing Corporate Training
Many individuals who are tasked with the responsibility of collecting training bids, or even making the training purchase for an organization, are new to the task. Realizing this fact led me to put together the following ideas to take into consideration when purchasing training for your organization.
1. Training is Not Consulting or Coaching
Consulting is often used to improve a challenging situation. Therefore it requires an ongoing relationship, necessitating observation of how actions affect circumstances over time. Coaching often works this way, too. In contrast, training is a vehicle to provide a new skill set. While creating habits of the new skills is an ongoing process that does sometimes benefit from additional support, the knowledge-transfer that occurs during training can usually be accomplished in a discrete time-frame; often one-day or less. Don’t pay for more than you need, but do find out what ongoing support options are available, and whether or not there is an additional charge for those.
2. Purchasing Training is Not the Same As Purchasing “Widgets:” It’s a Complex Process
In order to provide worthwhile return on investment, an on-site training program must address the specific needs of the participants, and the expectations of the decision-maker. “Standard” pricing often means “off-the-shelf” training, which is “one-size-fits-all” and may not effectively impact the needs it was expected to address. A seasoned trainer will want to speak with the decision-maker (and perhaps survey the participants) to help understand the specific challenges faced at the organization, help uncover these challenges when necessary, understand the desired outcomes, and get a sense of a budget range the organization has to devote to addressing these challenges. This will uncover the facts necessary to suggest a training program of appropriate length, format, and content, that also fits within the budgetary constraints of the company. This process saves time in the long run, and is more effective than simply collecting a pile of standard descriptions with pricing.
3. There is a Difference Between a “Trainer Delivering a Curriculum” and a “Subject Matter Expert.”
Large “training” companies that sell multiple different types of training typically have packaged curriculum that was purchased at some point, perhaps too long ago to be useful. This training is often delivered by someone who has experience learning and delivering all different types of training but is unlikely to be a subject-matter expert on any of it.
A specialty training firm typically offers products around a single topic, and is usually run by a subject matter expert who is continually studying that topic, using the techniques in her own life, and refining the content to keep pace with changing environments and technology. A “jack-of-all-trades” training provider can be a convenient single source when basic needs in multiple areas are to be addressed, although compare prices with specialists. When long-term adoption of new behaviors is sought, a subject-matter expert can usually provide solutions with greater impact.
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4. Consider Your Attendees When Planning Training
There are two factors, outside the training itself, which have a significant impact on the success of your training initiatives. The first is the attitude of the participants. Most training requires the adoption of new habits to have lasting effects, but participants who don’t want to attend, for whatever reason, can often undermine the effectiveness of the program for other participants, too. Look for a trainer who wants to discuss the attitudes of the participants, perhaps even offering a pre-training survey. Also, consider making the training optional for participants.
The second factor is the opportunity to get started on implementing the new behaviors. If participants are left to “find the time” to make the changes recommended in the session, the likelihood that they will, in fact, “get started,” decreases dramatically. If the training will not include group and/or individual work time that gives them a jump-start on the new behaviors, consider setting aside time after the training, where participants are told not to “go back to work,” but to consider that the training is continuing. Look for a trainer who will provide “homework:” specific instructions for the participants to follow that will help them make the recommended behavioral changes. This “getting started” time should allow the participants to be excused from responsibilities like answering the phone, attending meetings, and answering emails, just as if they were still in the training. A good trainer should provide information and guidance for you on this.
It’s common to view a discussion of training as the beginning of a negotiation, where the rules preclude you from “giving too much information away.” But a reputable trainer can be viewed as your partner in the process (even if you don’t ultimately hire that person), who can help you uncover your needs, cover all your bases, give you options to choose from, and work with you to ultimately provide the best and most cost-effective solution, all within your parameters.
I look forward to discussing your productivity training needs with you, and I pledge to be your ethical and honest partner in the process. Check out the Training Reviews to see what others had to say about their decision to work with Maura Thomas.