I work in an organization where there’s really little rotation in our training suppliers. I’ve inherited most of them, and this means I have some specific issues. Actually I had something yesterday with a supplier.My first recommendation for questions to existing training providers would be a very open one. Just say:
From your point of view what do you think we could do to allow your trainers and your training to have more impact within our organization?
Existing suppliers should be in a good position to share ideas. “Groups should be smaller… we should make it longer … team leaders should follow up after the training” or whatever. Basically you just take it from there and see what makes sense.
Now, obviously beware that they don’t try to just push the answers towards more training days. On the other hand I would be very wary of any training providers who have been working with us for a while and then tell me everything is fine and there’s nothing to be improved. This means that they’re not paying attention. Typically the trainer will have some ideas about constraints which if removed would make the training offered more effective. Or, if not constraints, then extras that could easily be added.
The second question to ask from existing training providers is:
What have you learned from our participants during their training?
This is useful for you as an L&D manager or coordinator because actually training isn’t a one directional interaction. Information should go both ways and very often you’ll find that people tell the trainer things that they wouldn’t tell their manager, or wouldn’t tell their HR manager! I want to be clear here. I’m not saying we’re interested in who said what, we don’t need names. But we’re very interested in what is being said. So for example my interpersonal skills trainer comes back and says that people in the training get the concepts and everything, but there are scared of speaking out because there’s too much pressure from above. Now that’s very useful for you to be aware of, right? So use the existing trainers as a means for taking the temperature. Learn from them.
And then the third question is a bit more of a challenging question, and a very practical one. I don’t really think it makes sense to ask existing trainers provocative questions like “Why are you better than the competition out there?” because you should know that! You or your predecessor selected them. The third thing to consistently ask is
How can we make this more efficient?
Is there any way we can make this cheaper? How can we train more people with the same effort? Or how do we train the same number of people with less effort ? And by effort I’m speaking about budget, administration, time away from work and so on. One example is why does the trainer necessarily have to travel around so much? Aren’t there parts that we can deliver online or in a blended approach? Can we do other things to just upgrade our format of delivering training?
Basically the question is, do we need to continue to deliver this in the same way we would have delivered it 50 years ago – you know – one trainer, one flipchart, 12 people in the room etc. OR is there a more fun, a more modern way of doing this? And what you’ll find very often is that these changes are appreciated by the participants, it’s interesting for the trainer and it’s cost-effective for your company!
Those are the questions I use.
Who is this month’s Secret L&D manager?
The Secret L&D manager is actually many L&D managers. They are real people who would prefer not to mention their name or company – but do want to write anonymously so they can openly and directly share their ideas and experience with peers.
This month’s Secret L&D manager is German, aged 45-55, and works for a global engineering company. He has worked in training and development for over 17 years working as an L&D manager, a training provider and as a trainer. He speaks 4 languages and has an MBA. If money allowed, he’d work for a charity, contributing to their success by organizing and delivering great training. He agreed to write anonymously so he can openly and directly share his ideas and experience.