There’s a lot of it about. Everywhere you look. Training. Leadership development, customer service, management, sales, business writing, team work, giving presentations, strategy, negotiation, conflict resolution, time management, communicating effectively, communicating across cultures, communicating using social media, … the list goes on. And on.
I asked an exhibitor at a recent Learning and Development conference show what they did:
‘Training,’ came the answer.
‘What kind of training?’
‘Lots of training.’
So, in such a crowded marketplace, how do you identify those suppliers who can bring real value to your organisation? Increasingly, training provider USPs are converging – “We’re Measurable! Innovative! Efficient! Customised! Results-driven!” This doesn’t make it any easier.
It’s a bit like shopping. You identify a need for washing powder, go to the supermarket and are immediately confronted by a plethora of brightly coloured boxes all selling you the same set of features and benefits.
So, in a world with exponentially increasing content, learning and development professionals no longer have to create training content. Rather, they need to curate it, so selecting and combining those training programmes that will truly impact upon their organisations.
I believe there are 3 core curating skills:
You’ll need clear criteria to follow in order to weed out those suppliers who don’t match up. And to establish those criteria, you’ll need to get inside what really matters in any training area.
In language and cultural awareness training (my field), for example, there are certain key questions to ask:
a. Are the trainers qualified? (Or is it someone who happens to be a native speaker?)
b. Is there academic support and CPD for trainers? (Or are they left to their own devices?)
c. Are trainers employed or freelance? (Can they abandon ship if something else comes along?)
d. Is there a clear pre-course preparation process? (Or does the trainer just pitch up and muddle along?)
e. Is there a clear assessment vehicle in place? (Or is it just left to chance?)
f. Is there a clear reporting system in place? (Or do you get an occasional email from the account manager?)
Put the right filters in place, and you’re well on your way to putting a strong short list in place.
Don’t believe the hype.
Most companies will boast an impressive blue chip client list – but do make sure that it wasn’t Joe Bloggs from Accounts attending a course 3 years ago. How extensive was the training they delivered? How many people were involved? Can you speak to a client training manager to get a reference?
What about the reporting system? Have a look at it, see how user-friendly it is and what information you can easily access. Is it cloud-based? Platform-agnostic? How deep does it go? Same with any e-learning complement. How is that key issue – user engagement – tracked?
And what about the impact assessment? Measuring language learning is not easy, for example, but any training company worth their salt will have something you can look at. Ask to see the test format, evidence from previous trainees, even take a test yourself.
So, go beyond the marketing messages and see what the reality looks like.
3. Stay up-to-date
Learning is no longer top down with a learned trainer pouring information into our heads. Learners are in a unique position to access information, ideas and opinions wherever they may be. They bring their own questions to the table with the ability to have good go at answering them for themselves.
Learning trends are technologically focused; mobile learning, the flipped classroom, peer-created encyclopaedias, superstar lecturers beamed into training rooms around the world, online learning communities, adaptive tasks and assessments. You can – and should – track them via social media and blogs (where else?).
And then look at how these impact on the training you source and provide? What expectations do your people have of how they best learn? What are your suppliers doing to capitalise on new learning opportunities and methodologies?
Learning and development professionals are increasingly expected to function as curators of training, connecting people with the right resources to powerfully support and improve their performance. If you’re not doing it already, now is the time to develop your core curation skills.