Selecting the Right Trainer

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    One would think that of all the training needs facing an organization, selecting a trainer would be the simplest, a matter of hiring the right person for the job. While selecting the right trainer is not as simple as it seems, the task can be made easier if you think about what your company or organization needs in the way of training and explore the best delivery methods for your employees.

    Jeff Turner begins his article, Choosing the Right Corporate Training, this way:

    “According to a Gallup Poll, 80 percent of employees said the availability of company-sponsored training programs was a factor in deciding whether to accept a new job or stick with a current one. And yet the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average number of hours of formal training per employee per year is only 10.7.

    More companies are starting to realize that it’s smart to invest in training, but faced with so many choices, how can an organization make sure it’s getting the most out of its educational investment?”

    There are experts at evaluating what a company or organization needs in the way of training, and can recommend a training plan.

    And, he’s right. Organizations have a lot of research to do in deciding how to spend their training dollars and getting the most for their investments. However, while his article focuses on the many options a company has regarding training, I’m going to focus more specifically on selecting the right trainer.

    The right trainer can lead your entire effort if that is what your organizational training assessment tells you need, or that trainer can be a short-term solution for your training needs. Still you have to decide what your company needs. Help for hire is available from many companies specializing in working with companies on training solutions.

    There are experts at evaluating what a company or organization needs in the way of training, and can recommend a training plan. They have specialized in those assessment aspects of training, but you should look at them for experience with similar companies before hiring, and check out their track record of success.

    Does your company already have a training director or coordinator–someone tasked with monitoring the training needs of the organization? Or, do you want someone who can come in, and after a proper grounding on what your company or corporation does, analyze your situation and tell you what you need? Or, are you subject-matter specific? How to do a specific job better?

    Trainers, like companies, come in all sizes and manner of expertise. From one-time training on specific or general skills to providing all the training in various formats your company needs.

    Does the training have to be in-house or could you provide options for employees to take training at a local college and reimburse them for the cost?

    Would your company benefit from hiring someone full-time rather than contract the work or position–the advantage being the full-time employee is vested in the company’s success? That is not to say, a training company or trainer for hire is not going to do a good job, but both hires will be specific to what is in the contract. A full-time employee may lack certain expertise (no one knows everything) and have to contract some training or analysis out, but can also be depended on to do whatever else is required without necessarily a change of contract.

    Does the training have to be in-house or could you provide options for employees to take training at a local college and reimburse them for the cost? Is it a one-time training for every employee? Is it ongoing training that will change periodically? Does the training require subject-matter expertise specific to the company or a particular field, say engineering? These factors influence who you choose.

    One option useful for companies that deal in specific or technical knowledge but do not have the in-house ability to pass on that knowledge effectively to new employees is to bring in an expert communicator or facilitator to work with a subject-matter expert in training employees. See my previous article, Training Sessions and Seminars: Who Should Do the Most Talking.

    Other articles I have written in this series focus on the value of the trainer as a communicator in relation to subject-matter experts as well as aspects of communicating effectively and motivating employees, which is not necessarily the job of a subject-matter expert.

    A smaller firm, perhaps a break-away from a larger company may have the expertise but not the established record yet is anxious to do a good job and for less money in order to earn its place.

    My article, What Would a Caveman DO – How We Know What We Do About Training, focuses on the value of bringing in a trainer from outside your organization that has new ideas or a different perspective. Everything a caveman learned came from outside sources and that was the traditional way to learn from others in prehistoric times, but today bringing in someone from outside or going outside for training is considered non-traditional. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages; the outsider has the advantage of a fresh perspective but the disadvantage of not knowing the corporate culture in your organization.

    So, the question becomes is your organization looking for an infusion of new ideas, a strengthening of the company pulse, motivating or providing employees with more working knowledge. Maybe it’s all of the above and more.

    My recommendation is look at your organization first and decide what you want, then widen your net–especially if you don’t have an established training group in your organization–to see what is offered outside in that area; if a single trainer or training group may work for you, look at several. Bring them in for a meeting to see how they would function for your organization and ask how they will measure results. Essentially, you want to know how you will be able to see for yourself if they have accomplished the job as promised. Most importantly look at their track record and ask for references.

    Finally, while money is always a factor, here it must be weighed against potential results. An established firm may have a track record worth admiring; it will also cost more. A smaller firm, perhaps a break-away from a larger company may have the expertise but not the established record yet is anxious to do a good job and for less money in order to earn its place. As for individual trainers, the same goes. A celebrity trainer who has name recognition and will certainly be a proven communicator will cost more than an equally good trainer/communicator without the celebrity status.

    Prestige costs, but efficiency, flexibility and desire to succeed don’t have to. Good hunting.

    For more resources about training, see the Training library.

    For more insight on training, communication topics, including effective presenting and public speaking, check out my website. For a look at the human side of training from my Cave Man perspective, please check out my book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development. Happy training.