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Two minute interview: Nigel Harrison


With only a few weeks to go until our inaugural L&D industry event TrainingZone Live, we thought we’d better start asking the speakers to give us a sneaky peak into some of the key issues and insights they’ll be covering. A limited number of spaces are still available at TrainingZone Live. To book your place, click here.

We caught up with Nigel Harrison, chartered business psychologist and managing director, Performance Consulting – UK, who explained that he’s aiming for delegates go away from his workshop with practical processes and skills they’ll put into action next time they’re in a consulting situation.

“I’ll be sharing a simple but effective process for them to engage and properly understand the underlying business problems,” he says. “And also passing on hints and tips from real internal consultants.”

L&D professionals can often feel like they’re simply ‘order takers’, he says. Executives have often already decided on the solution that they want, and can be unaware of the massive potential benefits of a thorough performance gap consultation. 

“Using more of a consultative style, you can start to turn this around and gain more credibility and influence, working with the client and helping them to face up to their business problems,” he says.

Although Harrison warns that this bolder consultative style needs to be used with skill and subtlety. L&D professionals have to recognise the need to build enough trust and rapport with the client or executive to be able to supportively challenge them in their request for any training.

“Then you can help them think through the performance gap behind the need for training,” he says. “If you challenge too early you’ll get resistance, so you need to work skilfully with them and show the hints and techniques in order that they perceive you as being helpful.”

At the end of the day, it comes down to the bottom line. L&D professionals have to engage with clients as business partners rather than as pure training suppliers. Budgets are under pressure, there’s less room for large training budgets, and more need to focus on interventions with proven value.

It’s a crucial point in today’s climate, and one of the key learning outcomes from Harrison’s workshop. “The key thing people want to know is how do you quantify the value that these solutions will add to the business,” he explains. “How do you work consultatively to make sure that any L&D intervention will add to, and is linked to, the business value?”

Why does he work in this industry? “I like to feel that I’m working on real solutions that add value and cut through all the fantasies and power and politics in organisations, delivering things that really help people perform,” he says. “If you ask honest, open questions, you can be very powerful and influential.”

Nigel Harrison will be presenting his workshop: 'The Training Conspiracy' at TrainingZone Live on Wednesday 25 May.

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