Close the credibility gap

first_imgMike Norman makes a plea for training specialists to use common-sensecommercial approachI’m on a training course’ is a declaration which, despite legions ofresearch proving its worth, is guaranteed to raise a cynical eyebrow. So why does training still suffer from this credibility gap in somequarters? The profession has done much to overcome its image as provider ofnothing more than a nice lunch and a day out of the office with an earlyfinish. But in my experience, internal training departments are stillsuffering, and I’m certain there is a lot they could do to make theirorganisations take them more seriously. One recent example of a ‘fully-booked’ internal training course, which onthe day yielded just six delegates for the four facilitators present, summed upthe problem. Many internal training departments are simply not as business-likeas they should be, and accept being treated like poor relations by theircolleagues. It is time for an outbreak of common sense and commercialism. Resources are the first issue. The cost per training day must be kept to anefficient minimum, and there are a number of ways to achieve this. The numberof training days yielded by permanent trainers should be maximised to the pointwhere they are providing at least three or four delivery days a week. If you haven’t got the workload to sustain this, should they really be onpermanent staff? If they are delivering too few a number of days, the goodemployees are likely to become demoralised and leave you anyway. And don’t concede to trainers’ excessive design and preparation timerequests. One good commercial example was when one of my customers wasnegotiating with an overpriced management development company, and asked:”If you have done this course before for many other customers, why are youcharging me for 50 design days?” Another of my customers’ permanent training team has convinced managementthat Mondays and Fridays are bad training days. Yeah right, for whom? Runningprogrammes over weekends, including Sundays and Bank Holidays, promotes a clearmessage that you are serious about learning. Linked with this is the need to boost delegate numbers. The training worldseems to believe that six to eight students is the maximum any trainer cantake. In some cases, it wouldn’t be appropriate for the class size to be anybigger (such as for presentation skills courses), but in others, a good tutorshould be comfortably able to teach 10 to 12 at a time. While it’s true that some airlines have given overbooking a bad name, usedwisely, it is a principle that works to avoid empty seats. Overbooking tacklesthe fact that people will always cancel. Induction courses are normally wellattended, with senior and management training days having the most acutecancellation problems. Tracking your delegate numbers closely will determinehow much you should overbook by. If you’re not comfortable with overbooking,running an active waiting list is another way to avoid wastage. I’m always amazed by the ease with which people cancel internal training –often on the morning of the course itself, citing overwork and othercommitments as their reasons. I wonder if they ever cancel their holidays forthe same reasons? These excuses may well be true, but the message coming over loud and clearis that it doesn’t really matter because it hasn’t cost anything for them ortheir department. Had they cancelled an external training course at such shortnotice, financial penalties would have been imposed – and it’s time internaltraining departments did the same. Just as all training should be chargedinternally, stiff cancellation fees should be an ever-present deterrent againstno-shows. Part of our company complained to our chief executive that it wasridiculous that we, as the internal training department, were chargingcancellation fees of 100 per cent for less than one week’s notice. Our chief executiveagreed that it was ridiculous – he said it should be 200 per cent. The need for training to be relevant and to meet the needs of theorganisation, following extensive consultation, is taken as read. But it shouldalso be recognised that no matter how relevant and well-delivered, trainingwill be undermined if costs and inefficiencies are at an unacceptable level. It may be wishful thinking to suggest internal trainers should become asimportant in the organisation’s collective mind as the department that paystheir salaries, but that level of indispensability is not a bad one to aim for.What is beyond doubt is that departments have to sharpen up their act, or riskdeath by inefficiency. Mike Norman, managing director of Reed Learning Related posts:No related photos. Close the credibility gapOn 1 Nov 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img

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