The 11 Immutable Laws of Selecting Your Training Partner
If you’re someone who is a key person involved in outsourcing training function for your company; selecting the right ‘training partner’ can be one of the most important business decisions you’ll ever make or influence because such decisions can have long-term implications on the overall effectiveness of your company, its goodwill & bottom line.
Finding the right training provider can make significant & positive contributions to the effectiveness of your staff by unlocking their potential in conducting the company’s business efficiently. Conversely making wrong choices could result in the loss of training investments, wasting costly man-hours spent in training & having staff with wrong attitude, poor job skills & inadequate knowledge!
Selection of the right training partner can be a very perplexing experience especially if not done through a well-structured process that weighs in all the relevant criteria in correct order and mix. To fully grasp the issue of ‘selecting the right training partner,’ we first need to look at the prevalent selection practice in the region (caveat - although there are corporates who have stringent procedures in place for this; this applies to a vast majority of corporates where ‘who knows who’ or the lowest bidder wins the order).
The prevalent selection process:
In most organization there is no process that is defined in black & white. And even if there was one it is hardly ever applied. Selection of a training vendor is usually carried out with a request to the training vendors to submit quotations & thereafter a bargaining skirmish ensues to get the quotations lowered as far as possible. Little or no attention is given to the purpose & value in the training required – getting training at the lowest possible quote seems to be the underlying driving force that dictates the training vendor selection process!
Furthermore other factors than training objectives & value are often given more weightage. For example for a classroom training the decision to appoint a training vendor is often swayed by the size of the training organization, how long they have been in the market & their jazzy and colorful brochure etc. Little attention is given to whether the training vendor has the relevant experience & expertise in the type of training required by the company asking for the quotations.
As stated above from the moment the request for quotations are sent out to various training vendors the prime focus seems to be on costs and not the value the training should provide – basically the training vendor who quotes the lowest price is likely to get serious attention or even win the order.
The company representatives who negotiate with the training vendors often use manipulative techniques like asking for quotations for a beefed up training requirement than what is actually needed; only to reveal the real need once the training quote has been significantly lowered.
Playing one vendor against the other is a common practice that such company representatives take great pride in and at times twist the vendor’s arms by asking for a ridiculously low price that is totally impractical on the part of the vendor if they want to provide a ‘value’ based training – a penny-wise pound-foolish convention that has become a scourge in the world of corporate training.
Free Lance Trainers:
You would be surprised to know that many of these well known training vendors in the region retain the services of a contingent of free lancers who basically deliver ‘Off the shelf’ training programs on the vendor’s behalf, sometimes acting as if being in the employee of the training vendor.
Such free lancers know almost nothing about the training needs of your company and as such their trainings are generic in nature, boring and theoretical.
Why corporates pay their hard earned money to such training vendors (who conduct training through free lancers) is inexplicable!
Keeping aside logistical issues why not cut out such middlemen & contact the free lancers directly to get the same training at a significantly lower cost & the free lancers can be asked to customize training as per your company’s needs.
Having made my point, it is obviously that a training partner should have both the logistical capability and more importantly expertize (trainers) that can effectively develop & deliver customized training interventions.
Off the shelf training:
Once the contract is signed, the training vendor with the order pulls out a related training from the shelf and sends same to one of its free lancer to revamp & deliver; mostly a few days before the actual training.
The free lancer than studies the course material provided and makes the best of whatever he/she can! With no training needs analysis, scanty information on the business of the sponsor, no reference to the difficulties faced by the delegates to the training or their learning styles; the free lancer/trainer in this case is practically blind to the training needs, context and learning styles of the delegates to the training.
No TNA (training needs analysis):
Scanty or practically non-existent as explained above
The stakeholders are never consulted:
Very rarely the delegates to the training or concerned departments ever brought face to face with the trainer or training vendor – bringing both the parties face to face not only helps is defining the training needs better but also results in winning the delegates buy-in in the course development process making the training more effective.
Off the shelf training that are not customized:
It is obvious from all above that most of the training provided through the free lancers is not customized to the needs of the company – as a free lancer I was once asked to deliver a program on ‘Planning & Organizing’ that came with 83 PowerPoint slides to be shown & discussed over two days – a typical case of death by PowerPoint!
The slides were copied from an outdated book on the subject with each slide having almost a page of content jammed into it; probably the person who developed the slides expected the trainer to read each slide word for word. And I know from my sources that the sponsoring company being a government body paid good money to the training vendor for the training & surprisingly accepted such sham training for their staff for years & continue to do so even today!!!
Language & cultural barriers:
The delegates to training are often ignored from the training effectiveness equation.
For example even if the delegates are from the front line who have little understanding of English, an English speaking trainer is often given preference over a trainer from the Far East who can converse in the languages spoken & understood by the delegates. The result could be a brilliantly delivered course that was not fully understood by the delegates to the training!
Kickbacks by the training vendors:
Although I don’t have first hand proof of this, there are ample indications suggesting this to be true for many companies.
Accreditation of training vendors do not guarantee a high level of training effectiveness or right fit for your training requirements; they are only standards approved or recognized by an external accreditation body.
So the next time when you select a training partner for your company, be very objective & look for the eleven selection criteria provided in the following checklist:
Checklist for selecting the right training partner for your company:
Does your training partner provide?
- Customized training that fits your company’s training needs?
- A training progression for the development of your staff
- Personalized training that caters to the needs of individual staff as far as possible
- Ongoing support such as:
- ‘On the job’ training support
- Briefing for the supervisory staff, so they know what their staff are being trained on & how to monitor, encourage & facilitate application of what their staff have learnt from training
8. A training vendor that has a legacy of successful & effective training in the market/industry for similar trainings that is needed by your company and also has related publications to back up their specialty.
9. Prior to submitting a quotation does the training vendor ask you questions like:
- What makes you think that it is a training issue?
- What behavioral change do you expect from the delegates?
- How committed are you to take other necessary steps than training that will ensure that the training intervention translates into producing the desired results & behavioral change
- Asks to meet the stakeholders (delegates/representatives from the relevant department) to comprehend their difficulties, level of understanding, motivation & learning styles
- Insist on a formal training needs analysis, evaluation of training effectiveness prior & post training
10. Trainers who preferably have hands on experience in the subject matter being trained
11. In case of repetitive training that extends over a year or more, or for a large number of staff being trained; proposes:
- Plans to develop pilot session/s to weed out ineffective training content & test for effective delivery method/s before rolling out the final course
- Schedule training evaluations for monitoring training effectiveness of courses delivered
- Continually enhance the program for better fit & greater effectiveness.
Amongst other things a selection process based on the above mentioned 11 criteria is less likely to go wrong and help you to identify a training partner that best matches your company’s training requirements.