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Training Officer Tip Archive

December 5, 2006 - How to Ensure You Get the Training You Want

Unless you've used a training vendor in the past, taking a flyer on a new course, new vendor, or new instructor can be a worrisome proposition. It can be fraught with risk, even if you've checked references.

Is there a better way than merely acquiring multiple proposals, calling references, and then praying that all goes well? Sure there is! And many training officers do it already, but I know for a fact that many do not.

The magic tool that you can use to ensure you get the training you want is simple - meet face-to-face with the vendor and the instructor to feel them out in advance of making a decision.

Scheduling a face-to-face meeting in order to get to know the instructor and his or her training philosophy is critical to your success. You've been burned in the past by chancing that all would go well without first meeting the person delivering the training, right? Well, there's no need to do that again.

Asking pointed questions and putting all your wants and needs on the table during the interview will tell you just about all you need to know about the competence and confidence of the instructor. Aside from seeing the instructor at a live event, your face-to-face interview is the next best way to evaluate the quality of the training before you make a buying decision. And, you only need 30-60 minutes to get everything you need. It's not painful; it's a no-brainer!

When you have your meeting, prepare questions that get to these issues:

1) Past experience.

2) Knowledge of the topic.

3) How the instructor handles problems in the class such as students who misbehave or act like they don't want to be there.

4) How the instructor intends to use exercises, simulations, case studies, etc. to further the learning process.

5) How the instructor intends to demonstrate the applicability of what's being presented in the class.

6) If the instructor is open to customizing his or her curriculum to meet the special needs of your audience.

In addition, when explaining WHAT YOU WANT from the class, make clear:

1) What a successful program would look like to you.

2) The desired outcomes and expectations.

3) Reasonable expectations for the quantity of skills/ideas to be presented during the time allotted.

4) Who the audience is and why they need the training.

5) How the class fits into a larger employee development plan or if it is a stand-alone initiative.

Use this tool whenever you embark on a new training initiative or if you are trying to freshen up your vendor list. If it's absolutely impossible to schedule the face-to-face interview, at least set up a conference call. Your purposeful questions will retain their impact over the phone as well.

If you have other strategies or stories about ensuring you get the training you want, please share them with us by emailing me at jgorman@benchmark-training.com.

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