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What’s your problem?????????


We are currently looking at the way we work with our training associates.

I've read previous posts on here about some trainers feeling exploited or unhappy with their relationship with the organisations that they contract to. So this is your chance to get it off your chest!
Tell me what is your biggest problem working as a training associate?

It would be great if you could post your reply here. However, if you are concerned about voicing your opinion in a public forum you can email your reply to [email protected]

Tracy Murray

12 Responses

  1. Do you have the problem?

    I have no bones about replying on here. Lets take for example your posting on a previous thread, which demonstrates the employer’s perspective and how it may differ from the associates expected delivery outcomes.

    “Your attitude shows
    Personally I will only have training associates work with me if they really love their subject and are able to share there knowledge and enthusiasm with the delegates.”
    >>>How can you objectively measure that they really love their subject matter or they are just stringing you along? Liveliness and enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily make for learning that sticks. Some delegates don’t want whistles and bells, it doesn’t suit their learning style, age or dignity.>>>>
    “This works well as even the most potentially boring subjects get good delegate feedback. Our highest rated course is on the fascinating subject of drainage investigation.”
    >>>>Ah so its all about excellent feedback happy scores and not about long term learning outcomes. Thus only trainers with ecstatic dispositions are re-employed and no one looks beyond happy sheets in their evaluations, which are skewed because only happy trainers are employed? Did anyone ask the professionally qualified associate for their experience or take on the learning outcome?
    “Interestingly, for the trainers who know the subject but to whom delivering the training has routine and they are merely going through the motions the feed back is always poorer – not surprisingly I no longer work with them.”
    >>>>You prove my point. Its not all about happy sheets it about long term retention of learning, one excellent happy session does not mean the learning has been effective or successful.>>>>
    “If your motivation is flagging you must understand why you feel this way. Is it because you don’t have enough knowledge of the subject? Unhappy in your current role/company? Other work issues? Home Life? Or has it all just become to routine?”
    >>>>Maybe its because the consultancy aren’t listening and are happy to kowtow to the client, without understanding professional integrity and undermining the associates professionalism and expertise?>>>>

    Usually the associate has been employed to ensure learning occurs and can do this, if all you want is excellent happy sheets, employ a clown.

    Well, that should generate a few responses.

  2. Specifics
    Biggest problem, bill payment, usually the person making the booking has no idea that accounts are taking 12 weeks to pay the associate and isn’t interested in doing anything about it.

    The fact that they expect all associates to be car owners and drive – what’s wrong with public transport and green credentials?

    Viewing the trainer as a deliverer and not an advisor/professional in their own right.

    Not realising that associates work for many organisations and may have encountered better practices and more effective ways of handling clients not to mention internal processes elsewhere. Associates have an external viewpoint whereas the employer only has their own company as a reference and tends to believe they are always doing things in the best way, which isn’t always the case.

    Consultancies that aren’t explicit on what their expected outcomes are ie. great learning, ecstatic happy sheets.

    Not being open and honest in how you are judging the performance of the associate ie. its all about the happy sheets and if they aint good then its curtains.

  3. Taking responsibility

    Whilst I do little training now I am party to many gripes from members and others about their associate relationships. Much of these grips however are down to taking responsibility; on both sides.

    Poor payments processes; some associates do not delare/impose their terms early enough if at all and are therefore subject to the purchasers terms. Take responsibility.
    Late cancellations; again associates have to take responsibility for accepting this. However purchasers should acknowledge that filling a cancelled day within 3 days is all but impossible.
    Poor rates; some purchasers see training as a comodity and decide on price. Trainers negotiatig down price don’t help the situation. And this is exacerbated by jobbing and hobby trainers not understanding the basics of being a freelancer.

    And I could go on, suffice to say as an Trade Association; TrainerBase is starting to assist both the purchaser and the supplier of learning and development services.


    Chief Executive
    The Association for Learning Practitioners.

  4. Associates need to get real
    Hi Tracy,

    I had four excellent and very enjoyabloe years as an associate trainer working with several excellent companies whilst researching for my doctorate.

    They all had varying approaches to payment, assignment allocation and the level of input I made.

    I met quite a few fellow associates and some of thm did seem to whinge about all sorts of gripes they had with their employers.

    One of the most common was about payment being too low or too slow.

    I asked them if they knew the basis on which the employer company was being paid themselves and they often did not know and many expected to be paid as soon as they had performed regardless of how the employer was paid?

    My own approach was:

    1. I must understand the pressures, challenges and opportunities of the business I am seeking to be part of.

    2. I agreed everything up front and defined procedures for when things ddi not go according to plan.

    3. I treated the clients as I would have my own and always looked to go that little bit further than other suppliers to get repeat orders without necessarily expecting them to coem to me.

    4. I was scrupulously open about who else I worked for and identified any potential clashes of client interest ASAP.

    5. I always remembered that, as an associate I was being handed a ready made event at which to deliver my skills and that all of the time, expense and frustration of getting this far had been absorbed by the employing company.

    6. It was my responsibility to maintain and improve my own skills.

    I had no problems with my employers and did not experience one bad payment situation.

    I do have a problem with associates who are often being unrealistic.


  5. Where to draw the line
    I’ll take up Nick’s point about checking to see how the employer was being paid.

    In a contract it simply doesn’t figure, contracts don’t stipulate you will only get paid 30 days after the employer has been paid, they state completion/delivery.
    You don’t ask the bank if they have the funds before you take out a mortgage with them. The council doesn’t check you can pay the council tax bill before they issue it.
    The fiducial arrangement between the employer and client are not the associate’s concern unless it states in the contract. As far as I am aware this is a tenet of contract law, services performed, payment made…not subject to a third party paying first.

  6. Customer focus

    Juliet’s point sums up exactly what I am talking about:

    She said:
    “The fiducial arrangement between the employer and client are not the associate’s concern unless it states in the contract”.

    Legally, technically and morally she may well be right.

    My point is that when I worked as an associate I made my contractors business my business.

    As my long term future depended on the long term future of my employing contractor I saw a huge benefit in understanding the financial aspects of their business and working with these. This approach lead to lots of very rewarding work both professionally and financially.

    If I had demanded immediate payment after each delivery, regardless of the ability of the business to pay me I would not have worked for some of the best training companies I know who did not offer an immediate payment but were willing to pay substantially more than the market. (A lot more than the interest I would have got on an immediate payment of a lower amount).

    Some may get all the work they want and get paid the next day and good luck to them.

    I believe you have a better chance if you inhabit the real world, understand the impact of global markets and the credit crunch and show that you understand your customer.

    As an associate the contractor is as much your customer as your employer!


  7. Once bitten…

    “Legally, technically and morally” all exist in the real world.
    Altruism is for novels and philanthropists.

    PS. We aren’t talking about immediate payment, merely contractual payment ie. 30 days that becomes 16 weeks etc.

  8. Food chain
    We are all part of the same payment food chain so delays will happen. Your action should be based on your relationship with the contractor rather than a notion of what’s right?

    So I have an agreed contract for payment in 30 days from delivery.

    If Payment is likely to go over this period I would expect the contractor to let me know why the delay was happening, how long it could be and the steps they were taking to address this in future. Those that I dealt with always did this on the rare occasions that things went wrong.

    If there was a good reason, it was a one off and I liked working for the contractor I would wait for payment.

    If they did not advise me or give a reasonable account or communicate about this with me I would just not work for them again.

    If a supplier does not pay on time what else can you do if you get no communication and your complaints get nowhere, take them to court?

    This will have the same end result in that you are unlikely to get more work from them.

    The process of signing up as an associate is as much about selecting a good contractor who works with you and talks to you as it is about the contractor choosing their associate trainer.


  9. Un-ignorable

    I agree with you. I do the same thing as you, I walk away, its just that I and others talk about it publicly and you refer to it as whinging.

    Its a fact of life, it happens and its reality, I dont understand why you think we aren’t in the same world.

    The questioner asked us for our problems, please dont diss us for problems that are clearly encountered and you are now reluctantly admitting happen to you as well. We were asked to let it out.

  10. Sign of a great communicator
    Thanks Juliet, it feels good to be unignorable – that must be close to memorable which is good for a trainer.

    So you would also walk away – excellent.

    My reference to whingers stands, that is people who just moan about their plight and do nothing. This does not help future associates or contractors.

    Obviously this does not apply to you as you are clearly a player.

    The initial post asked for the biggest problems working as a training associate.

    The biggest problem I feel in the market is sub standard training associates and good trainers with poor commercial skills, both of which are major contributors to the issues being experienced by you and the questioner.

    In addition to being whingers there are also too many unprofessional, half-hearted (there is another post about training when your heart is not really in it), greedy, self absorbed and ego lead.

    I would imagine none of this relates to the many contributors to TZ but we all know they are out there and I have met many.

    They include the under qualified, under developed, part-time-hobby brigade that Peter talks about in this thread. He has also commented on the lack of commercial skills in the past which is a real problem.

    If trainers do not know or care about the value of what they do we cannot blame the contractors for low rates. Equally if there are only low rates on offer the contractors should not be too surprised if they do not see too many quality candidates lining up to join them?


  11. To reverse your Question…
    I don’t feel that I have many problems to be honest, but there are a few things that one consultancy that I do a lot of work for that I particularly like…

    1. They stay in touch with me – newsletters, occaisional emails and phone calls.

    2. They do not take me for granted – they remember to say please and thank-you, and show an interest in my business.

    3. They get me involved – I have the opportunity to get involved at the ‘pitching’ stage to better get to know the client and their needs. This makes me feel part of the team, and although I am not usually paid for this, I see it as an investment as if the work is won, I’m first choice to be used.

    4. They pay me when they say they will – I have never, ever had to chase them up about late payment.

    I have to say that this consultancy does not pay the best rates out there – in fact, almost all others pay me more. However, these factors (above) add value to the relationship, and it is why I keep working for them.

  12. More
    Cheers Nick, we agree again.

    Some more points where consultancies fall down…

    Those that aren’t clear how they intend to measure the success of the associate.

    Those that over promise to the client on expected outcomes.

    Those that send out blanket emails when just one associate has transgressed eg. sloppy dress code

    Those that don’t include associates within IIP initiatives (as they should be).

    Those that don’t pay for preparation or briefings or train-the-trainer, its all the consultant’s time and he/she deserves to be paid for it.

    Those that pay less for train the trainer – the associate’s skills and experience hasn’t declined simply because they are learning.

    Enough already!


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