+Scott Watson

Monday, 8 March 2010

Business Leaders Are Wasting Money on Training That Just Doesn't Work

Many business executives are unwittingly wasting their money when it comes to procuring employee training and development initiatives. That’s the result of research undertaken by Scott Watson, Managing Director of UK and Bahrain based Summit Consulting and Training.

Watson, whose supporters include some of the world’s leading companies and eminent academics recently polled one-hundred human resources executives to identify how they measured their return on investment from their training and development initiatives.

And after analysing the responses Watson said, “There is significant room for improvement in procurement procedures, establishing precise success criteria before commencing training projects and developing greater responsibility for the delivery of enhanced results from the training provider.”

But with corporate training budgets being cut or even slashed entirely during the current economic climate, many under pressure human resources directors are finding that the goals they have been set by company executives before the downturn, are still expected to be delivered, even though funding is scarce.

So what can business leaders do to achieve a better return on their investment in time and of course, budget? Watson recommends that time invested at the outset to identify and select potential training partners can pay big dividends. “There is a big difference between hiring a training provider who will deliver a few days training, and appointing a trusted training partner who will collaborate fully and share ownership for the results you achieve,” he said. “The focus must be as much on what benefits will be realised in terms of measurable improvements in effectiveness as it is on the cost of the training programme.’

The research also identified that 74% of those polled who opted for an off-the-shelf soft-skills training package were less than satisfied with the level of value added to their organisation. “These two factors speak volumes when linked to quality and value for money,” continues Watson.

“An off-the-shelf package is focused largely on what the provider wants to teach your organisation rather than on what matters most, which is what your organisation needs to learn so it can improve its effectiveness” And in regards to the perceived low value in terms of value added to the organisation, Watson takes a very clear stance. “If a training programme is to add genuine value to an organisation, it is vital that the buyer and provider collaborate openly and honestly to establish how the learning will benefit the client, not just in terms of short-term boosts in performance, but longer-term, sustainable improvements. He continues, “Without a clear goal in mind from the start, and responsibilities allocated for embedding the learning back in the real world of work, virtually any well-intended training programme will fail to deliver any value or return on investment.”

But what steps can busy business leaders take to reduce the risk of wasting their hard-earned budget and maximise their potential for achieving something worthwhile from their investment? Watson’s advice is straightforward, “Stop looking at colourful brochures and start looking for proof of competence, a strong track record of high client satisfaction and willingness to be held accountable for delivering business benefits rather than just training.”

- Ends -

Editor’s Notes: -

Summit Consulting & Training is one of the UK’s preferred choices for human resources consulting, specialising in leadership, management and team development training and coaching on all levels.

Clients include DHL Express, DHL Aviation, GE Capital, Radisson SAS hotels, Denplan, Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force amongst many others.

Scott Watson is author of ‘Win Every Time – Essential lessons for existing and emerging leaders’ which is endorsed by Professor John Thompson, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Huddersfield.

More information is available on the Summit Consulting and Training web site at http://www.SummitTraining.co.uk/

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Beware of Time Bound Offers - You'll Be Disappointed

Driving home today I was listening to a commercial radio station. You know the one's. In between a bundle of adverts you'll occasionally get some music.

The recession has brought significant challenges for commercial radio stations. The main challenge being revenue falling through the floor. Yes, in the good times, they were rolling in cash. The high pressure, target and financial bonus focused advertising sales reps didn't really have to sell - they just took orders!

But the current economic climate brings with it tighter budgets from potential advertisers whose businesses, business to business, business to consumers are struggling and financial targets from radio station bosses who need the advertising revenue to survive. So what happens? The tone and urgency of the adverts change massively.

Whereas during the good times, the carpet store may politely, even seductively invite you to 'visit our showroom where you're guaranteed to find just what you're looking for.' Right now, the same company has forgotten seduction and replaced it with a shreeking, fast-talking loud-mouth lout shouting'GET DOWN TO OUR STORE TODAY...THESE AMAZING DISCOUNTS CAN'T LAST FOREVER...THIS CLEARANCE SALE MUST END SOON.'

Now, do you notice the use of time bound language here? 'Today', 'Can't last forever', 'Must end soon'. They all imply that if YOU don't get your skates on and give them your money, you'll lose out. How cool, if not misleading, is that?

Whether you're shopping or working with colleagues, be very aware of how time bound language can be used against you. Even unwittingly, time bound language can cause problems. For example, when someone says 'I'll get the report to you by the close of play today', when do you expect it? You may finish work at 5pm but they don't finish til 8pm - their personal 'end of the day'.

When someone says 'I'll be with you in five minutes', and it's now 8 minutes (and you're scowling under your breath about their bad manners), notice how some people, perhaps even you, use time bound language without considering the consequences.

Have a think about some other language patterns or words that can ultimately cause frustration and disappointment.

See you soon.....whenever that might be!?

You can find out more about influencing training courses and negotiations skills training courses at http://www.SummitTraining.co.uk/

Please Just Answer the Question

For those of you based in the UK, you will be familiar with the BBC's popular mid-week politics programme 'Question Time' presented by an highly respected journalist.

For those of you not familiar with the show, in brief, it's a live studio audience (always a good thing - checking that the audience is 'a live') who put questions and allegations to an 'expert' panel. The panel may consist of politicians from the 3 major parties, an independent, such as an economist or leading charity figure and many others.

Now on this occasion, the show was to be broadcast from the city of Blackburn, and the audience wasn't the usual mix of frustrated adults, it consisted entirely of teenage school children from Blackburn. And one member of the audience was a 15 year old girl whose family I have known for many years. And she had a question. A pretty good one too.

What happens next is something that, if you experience, I expect you don't enjoy or appreciate. Personally I find it rude and disrespectful. Here's what happened.

Her point related to what she perceived as an imbalance in caring for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan who, were fighting a war which, perhaps they don't support, but are legally obligated to fight. Here's the point she made to the panel after being advised of the funds a friend of hers received for her private education.

'Why is it that a child receives over £6,000 for private education when soldiers are dying because they haven't got the correct protective clothing and equipment?'

A straightforward, pointed question deserving of an answer from at least one panel member. A question that, having been answered honestly and fully, could have provided some context regarding the benefits certain soldiers have due to their rank or length of service. Yes, somehow linking private education with the loss of a human life would be difficult, but perhaps a link worth exploring - especially to an audience who in future years will decide who they trust the most (or mis-trust the least) to lead Britain.

The response from the presenter/facilitator was brief. An acknowledgement of the question....and then on to the next subject.

What is it like for you when you ask a question and the person decides to evade, talk fluff or refuse to answer the question altogether? Does this happen at work? Why do some people say that they welcome your views/opinion and thoughts and then simply by-pass the very point they made?

When this happens in the workplace, people become dis-engaged, mis-trusting and to some extent, not caring anymore. It's time to lead by example and answer honestly the tough questions that sometime pop up.

If you type Jeremny Paxman and Michael Howard into YouTube you'll see this standard at its very best. Just look what happens when the politician evades the question....and the pit bull terrier of a journalist won't let him escape.