There are a multitude of leadership training topics and a sea of trained facilitators to deliver on those topics. So, how do you decide what area of leadership to focus on and how do you find the best training organization and facilitator for your team? In this 2-part blog, I’ll share with you both an internal and external vetting process.
In part one, I’ll give you recommendations on the best questions to ask internally to create the clarity you need to describe the individual and team challenges, training needs, desired outcomes, timing and budget and stakeholder communication. In part two, I’ll identify the most helpful questions that you can ask externally to the facilitators at the training organization to determine if their skills, expertise, and teaching style match your training needs.
Part One - Internal Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Team:
What is our biggest leadership pain point?
Be specific. Identify the behaviors that need to change. Where is the biggest opportunity to up-level the team’s performance? You may want to send out a brief survey to your team to compare your perspective with theirs. Sometimes executive leaders think they already know but, they could be too far removed from the day-to-day operations to have an accurate pulse on the current team challenges.
What would be different if we resolved this pain point?
The answer to this question helps to define the desired outcomes you want to achieve from the training. When you can clearly describe the outcomes you want, a good facilitator will aim their training experience at delivering on those outcomes or at least provide the team with the tools to grow into them. Ensure your outcomes are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound).
What do we want the facilitator to know about our culture and the leaders on our team?
Nothing is worse than a facilitator who clashes with your company culture or can’t relate to your team members. Beware, it happens a lot. Consider the company’s vernacular and the most commonly used acronyms. Share this insider knowledge with the chosen training facilitator. Describe how your values are alive in your company and which ones could use some attention. Be able to name the team dynamics, dysfunctions, goals, and individual levels of experience on the team.
How much time are we willing to dedicate to the training process?
Be as generous as you can in answering this question. What’s often called the “one and done” (a facilitator delivers training once and there is no follow-up) is ineffective and usually not something high-quality trainers like to do. Decide if your training can be in-person or if it needs to be remote or a hybrid of both. If you are going to commit to leadership development training, a multi-phase approach, over a period of time, has the best impact because repetition breeds meaningful change.
What’s our budget?
Ask yourself, what’s the value of resolving our biggest pain point? Attempt to quantify the financial impact on the company if that pain point was replaced with the outcomes you want to create. Consider the cost to the company if the pain point doesn’t get resolved. Would improvements on the team allow you to financially recoup the training costs and more? Numerous states have workforce grants for leadership development training. Grants are a great way to increase your spending on training or offset your budget if needed. If your organization is financially constrained, ask yourself if there is a barter opportunity. Don’t let money be the reason you say no to leadership development training. Get creative.
Whose buy-in do we need to be able to move forward with the leadership training and how do we help ensure we get it?
Know who the final decision maker is, who will sign the contract, who will pay the fees, who will attend, and who needs to champion the training to others. All these individuals need to be a part of the communication plan. Know what’s most important to each stakeholder and customize information sharing to address their priorities.
How do we create a list of reputable leadership training facilitators to consider?
Try to get a couple of referrals from colleagues in your industry. Look for training organizations or facilitators who specialize in the type of leadership training you need. Stick to trainers in your area if you don’t have a budget for travel and accommodations. Human resource organizations like SHRM may be able to recommend good trainers to you.
In summary, when you get clear on your team’s challenges and shortfalls and ask the right questions internally, you will be much better prepared to conduct a focused search for the leadership development program and training facilitator best suited for your team and their needs. In part two of this blog, I’ll share 5 important questions to ask externally to your prioritized list of facilitators.