What should you ask your training provider partners, BEFORE you engage them?

Evaluating possible training provider partners can be a tricky thing to do. They may tell you great things when you speak to them, but then be less flexible or helpful once you get into the project. We believe it is ideal for both parties if the match is a strong one. The organisation gets the learning intervention that will best help their people develop and support organisational objectives. The training provider (for want of a better term) gets to know they have added value, made a difference to the lives of many and helped an organisation make more progress quicker. 

There are the standard questions you could ask a training provider to check the basics, questions like: 

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Who else have you worked with? 

The trouble with these training provider questions is that they may have worked with some great companies, but only once! And they may have been in business for a long time, but that’s because their marketing is great rather than the actual value they offer you being great. 

Instead, you can check what their journey with a company tends to look like. Do they start with one project, then move onto another? Are they introduced to other parts of the organisation to support there too? That is a healthier metric. 

Deeper questions to ensure they understand not only great learning design, but also how your people will make sustainable behavioural changes include: 

  • What are some features of your interventions that show you understand how people learn best? 
  • What do you understand of self-efficacy’s importance in learning and how do you work with this? 
  • How do you measure the impact of your work? 
  • How will you signpost to our other provisions?
  • How will you build in our organisational values? 

If they start talking about learning styles or suitability for different personality profiles then you know you’re in trouble! If there are ‘happy sheet’ style feedback forms then there are also eyebrows to be raised. Equally, including a signposting slide for other provisions or values really shouldn’t cut it these days. 

There are a whole host of other questions that you can ask, and many you should be expecting them to ask you (more on that in a later ‘Questions We Should be Asking’). However, some of the critical ones won’t appear in the normal guidelines. They are the ones everyone misses but really make the difference. 

  • Do I want to spend time with this person? 
  • Are they at least semi-fun? 
  • Will they help this be an enjoyable process? 
  • Will I learn something during our time collaborating? 

If your gut-instinct is a no…then it probably isn’t going to be the best fit. If someone comes across as arrogant and as though they have all the answers, then it’s possible the respect won’t be there and the working relationship won’t be off to the best start. 

Final point…and full disclosure with this one…we are biassed! 

  • What do you know about how the brain actually works? 

The rationale here is that learning and behaviour change do take place in the brain…so if your partner only has surface level knowledge (think popular science blog or foundational course for beginners) then are they going to have the agility and depth of knowledge to help in complex situations. 

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