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Ten questions for a training manager – Richard Pate, Chesterton

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Continuing our series of '10 questions', Richard Pate, Training & Development Manager, Commercial Division of Chesterton plc, gives us his views.


1. How did you come to work in training?

My role as an Australian Army officer included a training responsibility, something that I performed with relish. When the time came for a career move I looked at what I really enjoyed doing, and it was helping people to develop themselves.


2. Describe your role.

A colleague and I are the two Training & Development Managers for Chesterton plc, a property services company with 1600 people spread across many locations throughout the UK and Ireland. Between us we develop and drive the learning strategy throughout the business, develop, deliver and evaluate training events, and move about the business doing a lot of informal coaching across all levels of staff. We also manage the activities of the IT trainer and the Training Administrator.


3. What activities do you spend most of your time on?

A great deal of time is spent on constantly being out and about within the business and encouraging people to develop themselves and their roles to achieve the best results for their clients and therefore themselves.


4. Is training in your organisation mainly organised according to a strategic plan, or mainly arranged when a need has become evident?

Every activity we undertake is identified and planned as part of a strategic plan – without being able to show that there will be a business result we have no justification to expend resources.


5. Is any of your training accredited by external bodies?

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has approved our courses to count towards CPD, and it has also approved our structured training programme for our surveyor graduates.


6. Do you feel that training has a high enough profile in your organisation?

There is always a tug-of-war between operational requirements and the need to look, listen and learn in order to develop. We are no different, but it is pleasing that generally our people are prepared to commit time and effort towards developing themselves.


7. How do you demonstrate the value of your department to your organisation?

We have a structured evaluation programme based along classical lines in place which goes some way towards demonstrating the effectiveness of our training events. To view the wider perspective though, I think it’s important to get out and listen to informal feedback. A big indicator of our success is in the number of people we chat to who have put into action something we covered during a training or coaching event. If people are willing to open up to us, we have a chance of influencing them in their development.


8. What influences do you think have had the greatest impact on the training sector in recent years?

The things that stand out most to me are evaluation of training events and e-learning. In their own ways, both have had a profound impact on the way training is planned and delivered.


9. Do you think that training professionals should have a greater say in planning national training policy?

I think it’s essential in developing any policy that those who have to put it into action should have a say in what that policy is.


10. How do you see your work changing or developing in the next few years?

I expect that there will be an ever-increasing degree of accountability, as organisations strive to do more with fewer resources. The rise and rise of evaluation is evidence of this and will continue. I think that training professionals will have to learn to plan learning events with the outcomes clearly in mind – many already do, but we must always be able to demonstrate how what we are doing will benefit the client. In that regard we are no different from any other professional service providers.


If you would be interested in sharing your views, email us!

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