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Marijn De Geus


Founder & CEO

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7 trends in training that impact your organization


I often talk to training agencies in the field of communication skills development as well as HR managers who involve such agencies. Lately, we can distinguish 7 trends, each with its own influence on both sides of the field. And on the trainee, of course. What are these trends in training?

Hot topics: sales, coaching and addressing each other

Within the range of topics that are popular in training, there some that stand out. Firstly there is sales, where the rule seems to be: the more specific, the better. Combinations that are doing particularly well are sales and sector or sales and professional group (acquisition for lawyers, pitching in the ICT, etc.). A second popular theme is coaching. Even though some have claimed that the peak of coaching literature is behind us, several suppliers mention that leadership coaching remains alive and kicking and is still popular. Finally, a lot of clients are notifying training suppliers: “We’re not really used to addressing each other’s behavior or (dis)functioning here, and that should change.” In programs that touch different cultures, there is often a considerable part of the training module that evolves around “practicing with addressing each other.”

Less time, less frequently and less money

The economy caused many organizations to start cutting back on their training budget a few years ago. Even now that things are on the rise, the keywords when searching and buying training programs are often “shorter” (because the employee cannot be absent from the workplace for too long), “fewer” and “cheaper”. Suppliers must deal with procurement more often, and the decision-making process at training organizations is taking more time.

Quality Is not everything

Established training companies often posses contacts that have a warm nature and have contracts with their clients going way back in time, both for open enrollment and in-company projects. These clients, however, are becoming more demanding, and they are more easily persuaded to switch. Especially in the corporate world, positive references, quality seals and memberships to business associations have almost become hygienic standards for the offering of large training projects and a position as preferred supplier. L&D managers will tell suppliers, “I want to keep doing business with you, but if you’re not the cheapest option, give me another specific unique selling proposition to justify my choice.” Or, like the owner of a large and successful supplier told me: “Just a good training is not enough anymore.”

How  to measure and how to yield?

Clients want value for money, and the adage “to measure is to know” still holds ground. Through baseline tests, competence scores and 360-degree feedback, training buyers are on the pursuit of ways to make progress quantifiable. Even though it’s really “soft” sometimes, it is more than the traditional “certificate of attendance.” HR managers really light up when I mention objective communication skill scores. Next to observing and measuring, yield is a theme as well. What can you realistically expect from a day off-site? And what can Ericsson’s theory of 10,000 hours tell us about how we can learn to negotiate, influence or establish contacts?

Online training is gaining momentum

Blended learning is moving more toward online. Suppliers that are choosing this path to explain their choice with a number of the previously mentioned customer and market motives: cost reduction, being able to offer a USP, the possibility of custom tailored work, measuring the yield, more practice and creating online learning communities. More specifically, this trend toward online learning results in an increase in the implementation of video role plays, which provide soft skills training through online video.

Internal academies

Medium-sized and large organizations have internal academies that contain specific programs in topics like talent and management development, career paths, and competence development. These clients want to work closely with suppliers. This relationship requires a thorough investigation into the client, its people and their positions and corresponding roles, its customers and environment. Something seemingly generic like “performance reviewing” or “giving feedback” can then be taught within that specific context, which makes it very unique.

Facilitating learning communities

It is difficult to substantiate a certain level of soft skill (like an effective process intervention or opening question), in the first place because these small things should be of personal nature and authentic. This makes it all the more interesting when you receive feedback from multiple angles – from specialists, but also from colleagues and other participants. It fits the modern tendency to make use of the value of “wisdom of the crowd.” Some training suppliers are moving from being just a specialist to being a facilitator of learning communities, which proves to be a development that is gaining popularity in training buyers’ organizations as well.

These trends are also visible in online video role plays. Read more about this here!

Author Profile Picture
Marijn De Geus

Founder & CEO

Read more from Marijn De Geus

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