Saturday, 14 June 2008

Building Supplier Relationships

Working with a variety of training suppliers is key to the success of any organisation. There is always a decision to make about when to use internal vs external resource. For me some of the key criteria for this choice are:

  • Do you have the processes in place that enable internal staff to deliver training? Can they charge their time as per client work, can you allocate enough time to them to really own and continuously develop a course? If not then you need to use external resource.

  • Do you have the right people internally to deliver the content? There is a huge difference between presenting to a group of people and facilitating their learning. People used to the former aren't necessarily good at the latter. Whilst skills and experience are important, attitude and behaviour are also key - the trainers and faciltators will be role models for the rest of the organisation.

  • Are you training in a way of working specific to your organisation or your culture? If so then you should use internal resource.
Of course, using a blend of internal and external can work well. For example you can have an external partner as your 'back bone' for a course supplemented by internal resource as required.

I am interested to know other people's views on the internal vs external approach....?


Tom Haskins said...

Great distinctions to apply when deciding on the use of suppliers or internal resources! Here's a few more to consider:

-- Some material comes across more convincing with the internal shop talk and anecdotes that internal people can deliver while other material gets cred from examples in other companies, industries and geographical locations that outsiders convey more believably.

-- Some skills are only going to get put into practice if it's known to get the nod from higher ups, to be discussed in the next cycle of annual reviews or to get into certain trouble with a supervisor if it's not done. In those instances the presence of some representative of the internal hierarchy is essential. Other skills get deployed because they save the individual time, energy, paperwork, aggravation, etc - all of which is an easy sell for an outsider to deliver.

-- Some changes implied by the new information set-up turf battles and internal politics that need to be explored and strategized by insiders. Other changes can be approached more methodically with pilot programs, user surveys and diagrammatic change models which experienced outsiders can facilitate better than insiders with experience in the status quo.

Robyn McMaster said...

Chris, you share some excellent thoughts about building employees' skills. Somehow I dislike the word "training" in relation to people. We can develop them and it is an ongoing process since they interact with us and give us feedback throughtout. But a dog or a lion are "trained." We put them through the hoops and their minds are not invovolved.

What are your thoughts?

Chris Morgan said...

Tom - many thanks for your additional distinctions. Valuable as always. I particularly agree with your point about senior level sponsorship. For all of our leadership development programmes we have our CEO 'top and tail' the programme formally whilst also being involved 'along the way'. Not only does this raise the bar but it demonstrates how important their development is.

Robyn - yes, I take on board your point and actually felt a little uncomfortable using the word 'training' too! Engaging people's hearts and minds is key along with it being an iterative process. People who develop the most are those that choose to - continuously and in lots of different ways. For the rest it will be just 'training'.....