If you’re looking for ways to enhance your employee engagement, productivity, and overall skills, investing in employee training and development is key. While your organisation probably provides ample internal training resources, don’t overlook the value of external training too. Why? External trainers often bring deeper knowledge and skills to the table, allowing your team to reach new levels of professional growth.
But, making sure your team is getting the best of the best with external training options can be challenging. In this blog post, with the help of SME Coach Julian Roberts, Leadership & Executive Coach Natalia Mank, and Paul Rolfe of Further Education Provider Chichester College, we’ll talk you through how you can integrate external training into your organisation’s learning seamlessly,
Let’s start with why it should be on your list of priorities.
Why integrate external training into your place of work
Investing in training for your staff can offer a plethora of benefits including better employee engagement, higher levels of job satisfaction and improved retention, as well as a higher skilled, more effective workforce but why should you outsource training?
External training providers “allow employees to see different perspectives which opens up their minds to other possibilities”, says Executive Leadership coach, Julian Roberts.
They can also “spot inefficiencies and potentially dysfunctional dynamics, which might easily be missed by an in-house coach embedded within the organisational fabric”, adds coach Natalia Mank. “An external coach is fully impartial and free from power dynamics, making them best-positioned to compassionately question the status-quo and empower individual and organisational change.”
There are also benefits for larger scale training, such as for entire departments or workforces. With external training, providers can hone in on specific areas and are better equipped to stay updated with the latest industry trends and advancements, thereby ensuring your staff receive the best insight at any given time.
Not only that, but external training can also provide significant networking opportunities. At Chichester College Group (CCG), its training programmes often bring together professionals from various organisations and industries, enabling people to connect with peers, share knowledge, and build professional relationships that can be beneficial for collaboration and future career prospects.
Employee retention is currently a major challenge for many businesses, and this trend will continue for some time as people seek greater flexibility and more generous remuneration. One key way to retain staff, as mentioned above, is to offer high quality training but, according to Natalia Mank: “some companies offer training as a last resort – to retain their best talent when they already have one foot out the door. This is too late for all parties involved and becomes a pro forma exercise.”
She continues, “Coaching is at its most effective when introduced proactively to support staff in maximising their potential, to motivate your best talent and address any culture, performance and value-based challenges early on. When taken seriously and incorporated consistently into your People Strategy, coaching is a hugely effective tool for navigating change effectively. It can completely transform how [people] lead themselves, their teams and the organisation.”
Julian Roberts agrees. “Employers are always looking for quick fixes, and wanting an immediate obvious return on investment, but investing in people is for the long term. Not only are the immediate training/coaching needs met but the employees feel valued since they are being invested in by the employer.”
Some coaching packages start at £3,000 per person and for some businesses, this type of investment may feel far more than their budget will allow. However, according to Paul Rolfe of CCG, there are more affordable options. “CCG works with 5,000+ employers to provide a range of training solutions, for example investing in apprenticeships, short courses, and regulatory training. We also employ specialist training consultants who can undertake a free training needs analysis which recommends the right training products to meet most budgets. They will also be able to impart tools to help measure the impact of the training investment on the business,” he says.
If you’re still reading, then we’ve convinced you of the value of external training, but how do you go about implementing it easily?
How to select an external training provider
The key thing to remember with this type of training is that you are the customer and the provider needs to convince you that they deserve your budget. Therefore, most should invest their time and energy in helping you see they are a good fit for your business.
Paul Rolfe offers this advice: “Before seeking external training providers, conduct a thorough assessment of your organisation’s training needs. Identify the skills gaps, knowledge requirements, and developmental areas within your workforce. This will help you understand the specific training programmes or expertise you need from external providers. Some providers such as CCG will undertake this for free as a value service.”
He continues, “Determine what you want to achieve through the training, whether it’s improving specific skills, enhancing employee performance, or addressing industry-specific challenges. Having well-defined objectives will guide your selection process and enable you to evaluate providers effectively.”
On a micro level, Julian Roberts adds: “Have a dialogue with the employee, try to understand their development needs, utilise their recent annual review and also gain their line manager’s input to their needs but also their potential.”
Armed with this “brief”, the next step is to conduct extensive research to identify reputable and reliable training providers. Explore their websites, review their course offerings, and examine their track record and reputation. Seek recommendations from industry peers, professional networks, and HR associations to gain insights into providers’ quality and effectiveness.
For some industries, it’s important that the provider has a strong understanding of the sector and of any specific training requirements. To determine this, request information on their training approach, materials, and resources to ensure they align with your organisation’s goals and values. Paul Rolfe adds: “Customised content and delivery methods can enhance relevance and engagement among your employees. Inquire about the provider’s flexibility and willingness to adapt the training to your specific requirements.”
Natalia Mank says “The most important thing is that the coach does not impose their own agenda but really listens to you and those they will be training. Then, the coach can create a structured plan in response to these needs.” Some may also offer chemistry sessions to ensure they will be able to get the most out of your employees.
Finally before you choose a training provider, ask for references from previous clients or case studies that show the provider’s success in delivering effective training programmes. Then, reach out to these references and gather feedback on things like quality, responsiveness, and impact on their workforce.
Another thing to think about is piloting or trialling the training programmes with a smaller group of employees first. This way, you can evaluate the effectiveness and suitability of the provider before committing to a larger-scale implementation.
Is it right for your business?
To truly meet the full potential of your employees, training is the key and using external providers will ensure you have every base covered. Whether you have new hires, mid-level employees, technicians, healthcare practitioners, managers, existing or potential leaders, tailored training programmes can help you enhance their skills, knowledge, and overall performance. And it’s not just for big corporations; small companies, start-ups, non-profit organisations, and SMEs can benefit from training programmes too.
Paul Rolfe argues: “Encouraging ongoing development and providing access to a variety of training opportunities empowers employees to stay relevant, adapt to changing work environments, and contribute to their fullest potential.”
So, don’t let your employees fall behind in their field of expertise. By promoting a culture of continuous learning, you empower them to stay relevant, adapt to changing work environments, and contribute their best to your organisation.
Thanks again to Julian, Paul and Natalia for their insight and support with this guide. You can learn more about their services via the links below:
Julian Roberts of Julian Roberts Consulting:
Julian Roberts, an Executive Leadership Coach with a background in commercial and sales, is passionate about people, resiliency, and business. He has held a number of senior strategic commercial positions for multinational corporations such as Heinz, Yoplait, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as for family-owned businesses. In 2017, he launched his coaching practice, working with individuals and teams from various industries, including food, FMCG, retail, media, engineering, financial services, legal, construction, and medical.
As Julian and his practice have evolved over time, his focus has been on helping leaders and teams become resilient, not only to withstand challenges or adversity but to grow stronger in the face of them.
Natalia Mank – executive leadership coaching:
An accredited executive coach specialising in leadership, Natalia offers one-to-one executive coaching for leaders in organisations. These engagements usually last 3 to 6 months. She also offers leadership development training via group workshops, intensives and keynote speeches. These are bespoke but often cover subjects such as Authentic & Effective Leadership, Building Resilience in Teams, Equity On Boards, Mindfulness and Work-Life Integration.
Paul Rolfe of Chichester College – Further Education provider
Chichester College Group (CCG) offers a wide range of training programs and courses that can help employees enhance their skills and knowledge in specific areas.
It is also a Centre of Digital Excellence and is the largest provider of further education in West Sussex and Brighton & Hove, educating and training around 25,000 full and part time students every year and providing teaching excellence to meet the future needs of the regions’ employers.