How to make sure you get the most out of your Professional Development dollars
Professional Development is now, more than ever, becoming a necessary and essential piece to the increasingly important employee engagement puzzle. While there are still some organizations who fail to understand the value of training their employees, countless others are ensuring that their staff be given the skills and understanding needed to maximize performance in their roles. Because of this, organizations have made Professional Development a priority and a permanent item in their annual budgets.
Due to the increased interest from organizations and individuals in professional development, more and more training companies and workshops seem to be popping up.
Despite there being plenty of honest, qualified and recognized training firms out there, there are also plenty of supposed top-flight, high-priced firms and workshops that are being actively marketed, asking you to spend lots of money on seemingly professional services. And while there’s nothing wrong with hiring an outside firm to handle a crucial aspect of your business, it is important that you do your research to differentiate between the good and the bad in order to find the right company to address and meet the specific needs of your organization.
Make sure that you get the most out of your Professional Development dollars. Follow these 4 steps and learn what to look for in a reputable, first-rate training firm:
Listen carefully to a training firm’s claims and promises
We all know the saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. When speaking to a training firm or consultancy, really listen to what they have to say. Because they want the business, some companies will often make promises they can’t realistically expect to keep and may make claims to ‘whip your team into shape’ after just one session. Or they’ll tell you that their set workshop is a ‘perfect fit’ for everyone in your organization, meeting the needs of all individuals from the top to the bottom. There’s no one-size-fits all solution to training everyone in an organization and there’s no magic bullet to bring them all up to optimum performance in one day. Ask lots of questions and carefully listen to their answers. They should also ask you questions about your organization, your employees, your immediate and long-term goals and your areas of concern. After hearing all of your responses, they should be able to make good, basic recommendations that meet your needs and you should have a clear understanding about what and how they can deliver.
Ask for a list of clients they’ve worked with and customer referrals
Word of mouth is a very powerful thing and there is no better way to find out about a company’s products or services than by asking past customers. The same is true for a training organization. Ask them for a list of clients and for a few names of individuals who have actually attended their workshops or training sessions. Talk to these past customers; ask them about the engagement, the relevance, the transfer of learning and the improved knowledge that came from the session(s). In no time, you’ll have a clear view of what people think of their workshops and how others have felt working with them.
Learn about their facilitators
The material might be robust and spot-on, but if the delivery fails to engage, stimulate and educate than it will be lost in tedium. Some facilitators can motivate, inspire and rekindle the passion some have for their job, where others can make participants feel like school children watching the clock, waiting for the bell to ring at the end of the day. Maximise the impact of delivery, don’t waste your employees’ time with lacklustre, uninspiring and uninteresting workshops. Ask your training firm about their trainers, about their area of expertise, about their instructor satisfaction scores and for links to videos showing them in action.
Verify that designations are governed by someone else
More and more employers are giving worthy recognition to the professional designation granted to participants after completing a course or workshop. Those extra letters behind a name illustrate that an individual has elevated their skills and abilities by continuing their professional development and their extra education has armed them with a greater understanding in their specific discipline. But who’s the one awarding the designation? Some firms have built their own accredited courses that are not vetted out or regulated by anyone but themselves. It makes one wonder about the merit of the distinction and whether the designation has value. A reputable training firm would have a third-party who governs these accreditations, where certification is granted and a professional designation is awarded when applicants have met the criteria set out by a board of examiners. Ask your training firm about their accredited programs and find out who regulates them.
Before spending time and money on seemingly impressive, well-marketed training firms and workshops, do a little bit of homework. Find out about their practice, talk to past clients, take a peek at their facilitators and check out who regulates their designations. The cost of a few computer clicks and a phone call or two could save you a lot of wasted time and money. Don’t get tricked by your trainer and make sure your professional development dollars are dollars well spent.
Dolly Konzelmann is the President of Cutting Edjj Consulting (CEC) and The Customer Service Professionals Network (CSPN). With over 20 years in the customer service industry, CEC and CSPN are considered among the most comprehensive consulting, coaching and training companies in Canada. Providing services to organizations of all sizes and public workshops to individuals, CEC and CSPN use a results-based partnership approach to develop and deliver customized solutions that meet an organization’s unique business needs and resolve their most significant issues, helping them to create a lasting competitive advantage. CEC and CSPN are recognized by the HRPA and they offer an array of services including training, consulting, assessment, conferences, studies, networking events and accredited designation programs governed by the Canadian Council of Professional Certification.