Choosing an external training provider – 5 mistakes to avoid

Training your staff in management techniques, new technologies or a specific professional skill is an ongoing requirement for most companies. Small businesses in particular, struggle to have the in-houses resources available to provide training and are most likely to outsource to a specialist provider.

But with such a wealth of professional training companies and consultants out there offering a wide variety of services across a vast number of subject areas, how do you know what to look for in a training provider?

Whoever you choose won’t be cheap (and if they are, you’ll want to ask why) and you only get one chance to spend the budget. Wrong decisions can be costly, so here are 5 mistakes you will definitely want to avoid.

  1. No clear definition of the training solution you’re looking for

Before you can find the most suitable training provider, you need to be clear about what your training requirements are. Make sure you define your training objectives and goals in as much detail as possible, including who it is for and what should be achieved through the training programme. Speak to the relevant members of staff and review their existing training plans and commitments including individual PDPs.

But don’t just stop at the course content. Also consider the way you would like the training programme to be delivered. Take into account the personal characteristics and circumstances of each training delegate including things like their age, physical fitness and hours worked. Everyone learns in a different way and it is your job to find a quality training solution that’s a good fit for your team.

  1. Choosing a trainer who doesn’t ‘get’ the daily realities of your business

For your team members to be able to connect with the training provider, it’s important for there to be some common ground. Many trainers come from a particular industry or are experts in a specific area, meaning they can draw on those experiences to better engage with delegates.

Problems arise when there’s an obvious lack of understanding – the trainer knows nothing about your business or your industry – which will make people disengage from the content, possibly discrediting the training provider and his authority altogether.

Find a training consultant who really clicks with your company culture and understands the ins and outs of your business sector and can address the challenges faced by the training participants.

  1. Purchasing generic, one-size-fits-all training content

You may think that, say, Excel spreadsheet training or presentation techniques are the same wherever they are taught, but in order to get the best value out of your sessions, the content should be customised to your particular requirements and your team’s precise needs.

Unfortunately, too many training providers simply don’t offer this option, preferring to deliver generalised course content, with role plays, examples and case studies as well as vocabulary that may not reflect your business reality at all.

For maximum engagement and effective training outcomes, your chosen training provider must be able to deliver a tailored programme that equips your delegates with the specific knowledge they need to perform better in their daily jobs.

  1. Viewing training as an event, not a journey

Many companies make the mistake of seeing a staff training day as a one-off event to be booked and delivered. But learning is not an event, it’s a process. Most of what has been ‘learnt’ in the classroom on the day will be forgotten within days or weeks. Did you realise that 97% of all sales training has no impact at all beyond 120 days?

For long-term success, effective training must include a robust preparatory session and a reinforcing post-session component, so that the whole experience forms a coherent journey with permanent learning outcomes.

  1. Ignoring the potential of blended learning options

Finally, don’t get stuck on the idea that training must take place in a classroom style session. As mentioned earlier, everyone has a different learning style and it is recommended that you consider a multi-channel, multi-modal approach to staff training delivery.

In addition to a classroom component, what about live webinars, online learning modules, Q&A sessions, podcasts and emails along with post training reinforcement coaching to really help embed and lock down the freshly learnt content? Blended learning brings together the best bits from all teaching/learning options to give you the best possible outcomes.