BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 24 JUL 2019


Five Essentials That Make Training Pay

I had a conference call with three charming people this week, one in Learning & Development and two time poor partners in a professional services firm. It was standard stuff: a bit of small talk, a bit of listening, a bit of pitching and an outline by the end of next week.

Bish, bash, bosh.

As ever, the two experts in the room knew early doors that the two partners wanted to put a quart in a pint pot, ideally by the end of the month.

It’s not really the way to effectively develop senior professionals, although it can be a vehicle to inspire them into further action. Here, in plain language, are five things to consider after the half day to 100 has been done on that Friday afternoon.  


Have A Plan.
You will never run that marathon if, on the odd Saturday, you get off the sofa and go for a jog. You need to start with what and why and who and how?

  • What do they need to be able to do and why do they need to be able to do it?
  • Who are they and what are their current skills levels?
  • How does them being able to do this motivate them and how does it help the business?

Think Value, Not Cost.
There is nothing someone will not do a little bit worse for a little bit less. People development should be reassuringly expensive. When I was an architect, every time a client took the daft low-ball price against my advice it cost everyone dearly in time, money and grey hairs.

  • Apprise effectively all costs associated with the development, including opportunity cost of participants being away from their desk (which is by far the biggest number).
  • If your inner analyst must consider the cost of the development, look at price per participant rather than day rate or overall programme cost. And at what you are getting.
  • If the provider does not fully demonstrate value to *Kirkpatrick scale level three or four, find someone who does. That means what comes out, not what goes in.

Ask For Data.
One of the biggest changes in the past few years is the ability to collect and analyse data. Even smaller providers can now demonstrate their value proposition through qualitative and quantitative data. This weeds out those “doing a bit of training” in their dotage.

  • Case studies and testimonials are common qualitative methods; interrogate them and take up references.
  • Ask for programme participant's comments. They are a rich seam on both how enjoyable the programme was and its effectiveness in both embedding skills and changing behaviours.
  • Get numbers as you should be able to see data-percentage improvements in skills, sales achieved or efficiencies made that demonstrate you will get a return on your investment.

Get Buy In.
In sporting parlance, participants need to be “in the room”. No mobiles, no laptops, no jogging off for meetings or calls. This is worth every minute you spend ensuring you achieve it.

  • Ensure you have the right group anticipating the right programme, have relevant high quality pre-work then set a high bar for entry. Ideally have them make a case for inclusion.
  • Create demand by having more potential delegates than spaces, market it effectively and often and share successes as it rolls out.
  • If it is for senior staff, have the most senior people take the programme, at least get them to sponsor it or kick it all off.

Maintain Momentum.
To be effective your development needs to achieve at least *Kirkpatrick scale level three: delegates learn skills and change behaviours. And ideally level four. Behaviour change, like eventually running that marathon, is not a sprint. It takes time.

  • Monitor and measure for three to six months after completion of the classroom element. Find qualitative and quantitative improvements; if they are not in evidence, find out why.
  • Encourage the group to share best practise through virtual face-to-face groups and use technology to keep skills sharp.
  • Have monthly facilitated sessions for at least three months to share successes, find gaps and keep skill levels high.


*Kirkpatrick scale

Level 1: The development was relevant and engaging; a useful way to spend my time.

Level 2: The development imparted the intended knowledge, skills and attitude and I gained some confidence from it.

Level 3: The development gave me skills and resulted in behaviour change when I went back to my job.

Level 4: Targeted outcomes specific to my personal and business growth were achieved as a result of the development.    



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