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  1. So, following yesterday's budget, it seems that individuals and companies are going to have to watch their pennies and manage ever dwindling resources for a while yet. This means that big budgets for training are likely to remain things of the past, for a while at least. But, those lucky enough to be in employment still need to be trained and most training departments will be looking for ways to stretch their training budgets. Here are some practical tips to help learning continue during times of austerity.

    1. Do a proper TNA. Take time to find what the actual ‘gaps’ are and why they exist. Throwing money at training is going to a waste if training isn’t the answer. Maybe your procedures need clarifying or performance management needs to be tightened up. Training only works if people don’t know what to do: If they don’t want to do it, or something is stopping them, then look for an alternative solution.

    2. Use bite-sized learning sessions. ‘Power Hour’ sessions allow individuals to get the training they need, whilst limiting the impact on every day operations (no-one minds if you attend a 60-minute meeting, right?). They don’t need specialist trainers to run them, so it can also act as development for your managers.

    3. Use projects and secondments. People learn by doing, and if a development need can be addressed alongside a business requirement, then everyone wins. Using coaches or mentors to guide the process maximises benefits to individuals and minimises risk to the business.

    4. Use self-directed learning. Whether it is e-learning, traditional 'paper-based' distance learning or task-based activities, giving individuals the resources, permission and time to take control of their own learning can produce excellent results with moderate up-front investment and almost zero on-going costs.

    5. Invest in quality design. If you pay someone to write bespoke training for you, you own it, and you can use it as many times as you want, using any trainer that you want. The initial investment is worth it as the more times you run it, the cheaper (per event/per head) it becomes.

    6. Evaluate past training. Find out what kind of training is transferred back to the workplace and makes a difference to what people do by conducting a proper evaluation that goes beyond the 'tick sheet'. Prioritise this type of learning as you will get a better ROI.

    7. Use freelance consultants instead of large consultancies. An obvious one, but if you must buy-in expertise, take the time to find a freelancer that meets your needs. Ask for recommendations and check out their credentials. You could save yourself up to 50% of the costs associated with a larger consultancy.

    8. Make better use of coaching. Use qualified coaches for senior staff, and train managers in basic coaching skills to encourage a coaching culture. Coaching can improve performance a tiny bit every day, but unlike workshops, the impact is day after day, not just one big hit. Again, a moderate investment can have a big improvement.

    9. Encourage social learning. New platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and industry specific websites offer excellent learning opportunities through tips, discussion groups and links. Be clear about what people can and cannot use these platforms for, but don't simply switch off the raft of learning that is available for fear of misuse.

    10. Prioritise learning that has most direct impact on the business goals. Again, an obvious one, but if funds are scarce, the more you can demonstrate a link between proposed training and business results the more likely you are to get the budget you require.

    So, let's think more broadly about learning and development, keep training our people, and let's NOT let a limited budget stop of from achieving great things in the future.

  2. I noticed recently on social media that I had a chance to win training worth £5000. Really? Seems a very definite figure, and I couldn't help think that it was a pretty big statement to make.

    Afterall, how do you value training? It's not like a car, or gold, or even a cake. There's so many intangible things to take into account. So how do you value it? Do you take into account the knowledge and experience of the trainers built up over years? What about the time taken to research and design the training? What about materials production? Travelling? Delivery time? Pre and post-course meetings? Following training up?

    As a training provider, I KNOW how long it takes to develop really good training, and if I paid myself just the minimum wage for each hour spent designing a Power Hour session, they would be priced a lot higher than they are. But ulimately, the value is decided by the learner, and market forces, not the trainer.

    For example, when I was doing my NLP training, I found it useful. I would defintely say it had value, and certainly didn't regret the cost of completing the course. However, some people find that NLP quite literally changes their life. They would say the training was worth 10 times what they paid for it. Other people start the course, and quickly decide that it's just one up from witchcraft, drop out, and bitterly regret spending one penny on the training!

    So, going back to the original claim that 'training is worth £5,000' still seems a little overconfident. The value of training depends on how much people learn, and how much they apply in order to improve their performance, which in turn will add value to the business. Afterall, if nothing is done as a result, this training is simply a cost. That is one of the reasons why we include practical activities to apply the learning at the end of every Power Hour. Training value is determined by a number of factors: The materials, the delivery, the learner's commitment, the follow up and most importantly, impact on the buisness. I don't think all of these factors are in the control of the provider offering this incredible gift.

    So, are Power Hour Bite size training materials worth only £30? Well - we had to put a price on them and we hope that at this price it's a no-brainer, and the value attached to them far exceeds £30...but the TRUE value depends on how they are used.

    If you want to browse our shop and see for here.