+Scott Watson

Friday, 15 May 2009

Top Ten Ways to Make Your Management Training Really Work For You

When the economic outlook was bright, choosing an external training partner was a pretty tough task. But now, with the economic outlook being rather bleak, my company has noticed a significant increase in the number of enquiries for associate relationships. How can a corporate buyer be certain, or at least, very confident that they are making a good decision when appointing an external partner? Here are my top 10 tips to make your management training programme work really well. Apply these tips and you will not only minimise the possibilities of things going wrong, you will proactively be ensuring that your management training programme delivers excellent quality and (with your involvement) the results you want most too.

  1. Do your homework - Be clear on why you want/need the training now. What organisational pressures or goals are driving this training programme and what contribution are you expecting from your training partner?
  2. What is the rationale for outsourcing your management training programme? Make sure your organisation is clear about WHY you are looking to outsource. Do you need external expertise and skills? Is it a project deadline you can't achieve on your own? Or is there another reason? Either way, clarity really helps.
  3. What is the level of risk involved? The consequence of a poorly chosen PC repair service provider (if you catch the damage early enough) might only cost you a couple of PC's and a few annoyed colleagues. But outsourcing your whole custoemr service support to the wrong provider could cost you a great deal in sales. Be very careful outsourcing your recruitment and development of managers who can't demonstrate a consistent level of competence and client satisfaction. Clarity on how performance will be measured is a real key point here.
  4. Think past the consultants sales pitch. Word of mouth referrals are almost always the safest way to select a management training partner. A recommendation from a trusted colleague, acquaintance or advisor is far safer than simply seeing who is listed on the internet or Yellow Pages. And then you have to ensure that the provider has credentials that meet your requirements. Some points to pay attention to: Establish early on exactly who will be allocated to your training and development programme.Ask about this person's expertise, track record, qualifications and level of authority within their company.Don't take a cv or personal profile as a statement of fact. Dig deep and check client testimonials.
  5. How consistent is the expertise level? Bait and switch is one of the most annoying practices employed in the outsourcing sector. Providers show up to the sales meetings with senior personnel but when the contract has been secured, you rarely if ever see them again - unless there is something they can sell to you. Agree who will be involved in the day to day work before signing a contract.
  6. Are reliable client testimonials available? A client list is one thing, and they can look impressive. But to maximise the possibility of your potential partner actually delivering their commitments, look for client testimonials. Real feedback from real people in a similar situation to you. Having to choose an external training partner. If verifiable testimonials aren't available, perhaps you would be best not making such an appointment.
  7. Are the deliverables actually deliverable and realistic? Beware of providers who promise you the world. Their intention may be genuine and well-intended but even the most impressive sales pitch will end in frustration (and possibly litigation) if agreed deliverables aren't achieved. Remember to be reasonable with your requests, however important your project. Don't be so relaxed that any results, however small, appear like success. And don't be so difficult and expect so much that even very positive improvements/changes are deemed to be failure. This is a two-way relationship and win-win is vital.
  8. How will the provider will assist with in-sourcing. You don't want to be locked into a provider in such a way as to militate against switching providers or bringing the function in-house in the future. Answering this question will help you to identify potential partners whoc should be able to provide what you need. Once you have chosen the provider, include the transfer of knowledge, skills and expertise in your contract document. This will ensure that both parties are properly protected.
  9. Get the contract right. The contract is where all the assumptions about how the provider will work with you are made explicit. It is also the place where the provider's expectations of the client are also made explicit. Enter into negotiations with a genuine win-win relationship in mind. You want to achieve your outsourcing objective with your partner as smoothly and effectively as possible. The contract should allow the provider and yourself to be clear on your expectations of each other, an element of flexibility to change project timing, logistics and allow both parties to feel they are contributing and receiving value for money.
  10. Use honesty as your standard in all of your dealings. Appointing an external training partner can be like a boxing match on some occasions. You don't want to be hit with an incompetent provider so you are a little cagey to start with. The external training partner doesn't want you to 'steal' their intellectual property so they give it to you one small piece at a time. Start your initial discussion with a clear commitment to honest dialogue and transparency in every aspect.

This is an excerpt from Scott Watson's book 'Win Every Time - Essential lessons for existing and emerging leaders'


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