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Weighing up the value of training


In this feature article, Nigel Wood, Business Psychologist at PMSL discusses what you should look out for when weighing up the pros & cons of booking a training course.

Why do we send people on training courses? The average price of a two-day course is about £750 per person. As well as that you have someone out of the office for two days and not producing anything (not to mention at least a day working through all those e-mails when they do return…!). Then there’s all the time spent finding the right course in the first place, booking the place, ensuring they have their joining instructions and any evaluation that might take place afterwards. All of this costs the business time and money.

With cost an ever-important issue (and arguably more so in the current environment of an economic slow-down) exactly what do you get for your money? Most of us accept that training will probably add something. “There is a direct correlation between training expenditure and profitability. It is not just hearsay but a proven fact.” says Roy Davis, Head of Communications, Saville & Holdsworth (Training Pages, 7th April 2003).

However, training providers rightly have a duty to work ever harder to offer you greater value and then demonstrate this to you.

At the very least you expect to get a few ‘musts’. An experienced trainer is essential – you want someone who is believable and who knows what they are talking about; someone who can answer questions about things that aren’t in the workbook. “Its not good enough to be just a good trainer - you have to offer something extra. That’s why all our trainers are Occupational Psychologists… It means we can address issues that aren’t on the agenda.” says Maggie Mosley, Director of Business Psychology at PMSL.

The workbook itself should actually compliment the learning, be interesting and easy to read, as well as useful upon returning to the workplace.
Lunch & refreshments are often regarded as one of the ‘perks’ of going on a training course but they really are essential to get right. Any good trainer knows that if you don’t get the basics right, then it’s only going to detract from the learning - soggy sandwiches and rationed beverages will keep no-one happy.

Most training providers offer these as basics. But you should expect even more than this. If you send someone on a course, you are doing it for business reasons i.e. to see an improvement in the value that that person adds to the business – you want pay-back. It’s important then that the training has value, such that the skills are transferable back to the workplace – if the individual doesn’t improve, your organisation won’t see the benefit. How is this benefit achieved?

Well, one key factor that will affect the learning of a delegate is the degree of interactivity that they receive. If a trainer has an agenda that they stick to rigidly, chances are that there won’t be the opportunity for the group to address areas of particular interest as they come up. If a group is too large, it makes it much more difficult for any one individual to ask how they can relate the learning to their personal circumstances. If the trainer isn’t constantly aware of the energy levels of the group, the majority are bound to become bored and disinterested at some point, resulting in the course not doing what it’s supposed to – changing someone’s behaviour.

Having an understanding of how people learn, what’s important to individuals on a course, why particular people skills and techniques work – these all play an important part in ensuring that it’s not just a training course that you get for your money but someone who has learned something. If someone learns – rather than just being trained – then your business is much more likely to see the benefit.

Don’t be frightened to ask providers, old & new, where and how they will add value to your business. Most of them will be more than happy to explain. Ask about the course content, the trainer, the way the course is run – ask them why they are different.


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