I will address12 key problems that can occur with a management training company and then explore solutions to them.
Management training companies can offer significant value around leadership skills team work, and overall organizational effectiveness. There are however also potential problems or challenges that can arise.
Here are some common issues to be aware of:
1. Costs management: Management training programs can be costly, especially customised. Managing the budget can be challenging and scope creep and unexpected expenses can occur causing budget issues.
2. Lack of customisation: Some management training companies offer standardised programs that may no address the specific challenges in your business. This can result in ineffective training. Further training materials may become out of date or fail to address emerging trends or challenges, reducing their relevance.
3. Quality of trainers: The effectiveness of the training depends on the experience as well as the seniority of the trainers. If the trainers lack in subject or industry experience it can result in a less positive outcome.
4. Limited Follow-up and Support: This is key. It is very easy for a management training company to come in deliver the training and then disappear. Effective training should be both preceded and followed by ongoing support and reinforcement. Some training companies fail to provide this support or re-enforce its importance, making it challenging to sustain improvements.
5. Time Constraints: Taking employees and managers away from their regular responsibilities which disrupts BAU and delivery against deadlines.
6. Measuring return on investment: It can be difficult to measure the ROI of management training. Without clear metrics, it's hard to determine the training's impact on the team involved. There are always other factors at play which could mis-represent the impact. Some management training companies may make unrealistic promises about the outcomes of their programs. Making behavioural changes stick in an organisation can take time and repeated activity. Training companies who are keen to make a sale may overstate this.
7. Lack of long-term results: If the training doesn't become a key part of the company’s ongoing development, its impact may diminish over time.
8. Lack of Flexibility and accessibility: Training programs may not be flexible enough to plan for differing skill levels, schedules, or learning styles of staff. Also if training is only available to a select group of employees, it can create a sense of inequality or hinder the development of talent throughout the organization.
9. Resistance to Change and lack of engagement from key people or leaders: Employees and managers may not fully participate in training or struggle to take on board new ways of working introduced through training, leading to implementation challenges. Senior leaders or individual managers may resist the training or view it as unnecessary, believing they already are across the material and techniques or simply have other higher priority tasks to deliver.
10. Overemphasis on Theory and models: Some training programs may focus too heavily theory without providing practical tools and tips that can be applied in real-world situations. If there is a lack of break out exercises in which the group gets involved to practise putting the learning into practise the sessions can become arduous or dull.
11. Lack of Accountability: Without clear ways to hold participants to task on implementing learnings, the training's impact may be reduced.
12. Content ownership: If the training company uses proprietary materials or methods, there may be concerns issues around who owns the content and if it can be tailored or reused in the future.
To mitigate these potential problems when working with a management training company, it is essential to conduct due diligence and focus on the following.
1. Costs management: Ask for discounts. Discuss a longer contract with lower unit prices. Do some of the preparation work internally. Request full budget breakdowns in advance. Plan contingencies for expenses. Allow some additional stretch for small adds for additional coaching or training requirements which emerge during the program.
2. Lack of customisation: An off the shelf solution rarely will be fit for purpose. Spend time with the training company sharing specific and team needs in detail and sharing day to day and upcoming challenges. Ask the training company how bespoke the programme is versus when they last delivered a programme on this subject and what they have adapted for your team/business.
3.Quality of trainers: Request bios for the trainers and review their experience across their activities and years in role. Ask about their level of seniority and for information on their industry experience. Check references
4. Limited Follow-up and Support: Ask about the process used. What mechanisms or technology the management training company uses to ensure learnings are implemented.
5. Time Constraints: The long-standing question of whether we should spend time of personal development over current activities has been around for ever. While working on new behaviours has clear benefits around performance and efficiency. It would be wrong to say that it is always the right time for helping employees grow. There is such a thing as too much change and too much on people’s plates. Consider your timing and in particular seasonality when planning programmes. Weigh up the value of working on areas such as leadership, team-work, stress-management, decision-making, engagement and communication and questioning skills versus the immediate priorities. It can be a hard decision, if you decide to go ahead the team needs to be on-board and encouraged to fully participate.
6. Measuring return on investment: Key metrics need to be defined in advance and a baseline agreed with the management training company. Various types of ROI that can be measured may include qualitative measures such surveys through to ways in which the business has been materially impacted. This might include cost savings, targets being met, sales quotas, and internal or external customer satisfaction scores. Employee engagement measures are also going to be closely aligned with L &D investment.
7. Lack of long-term results: This consideration is closely connected to the follow up and focus given to the activity. Stand alone activity is not going to add as much value as a considered and well-planned programme where delegates and key individuals contribute to the programme plan. The leader of the team and the way they position and frame the activity and continue to reference its value is critical.
8. Lack of Flexibility and accessibility: Ensure that time is taken to discuss each team member involved in the training and assess their needs individually by sharing as much information as possible the training company. This takes time but it is well spent. Learning styles and development gaps can be focused in on to ensure that there is something for everyone in the training. It is almost impossible that every delegate is happy and possibly simply an unrealistic expectation. Choose carefully who is involved in the programme and be sure to be very upfront and clear with those not involved as to the basis for that and what alternative development opportunities they can expect in the future.
9. Resistance to Change and lack of engagement: Ask how your training company will handle employees who are not fully engaging and ensure better participation. Ask their advice on launching the programme and guide them on any more difficult personalities who may need additional engagement. Introduce the training company to the leadership or hr team and provide the opportunity for them to convince these stakeholders as they have you that they are a good fit and will add value.
10. Overemphasis on Theory and models: Be clear with your provider that you recognise the value of activity based applied learning and the personalities and preferences of the group in question. Provide sufficient background so that action learning case studies and working problems are relevant and useful.
11. Lack of Accountability: Create a process with your training company and emphasise the importance of the ongoing test and learn approach to bring the learning and development activity into the day to day. Schedule reminder sessions and revisit materials in team meetings.
12. Content ownership: Agree up front prior to awarding the work what you as a client are permitted to use the content for. Push your provider to permit you to at the least have license to reuse materials to share the value of the content internally.
Consider these issues when selecting a management training company. Regularly assess the effectiveness of the training and be prepared to adjust as needed to meet evolving needs. Communication and transparency between your company and the training company are also crucial for a successful partnership.