American firms spent about $156 billion on employee training in 2011, according to the American Society for Training and Development. This learning and development can come from a multitude of resources: internal training programs or choosing an external training provider. When choosing an external provider, it is important to find one that will offer learning solutions specific to your organization’s learning needs. Universities and colleges are an excellent resource for your learning and development needs.
Before selecting an institution as your training provider, take into consideration the following parameters.
A Partner Who Understands
The university must know your organization’s culture, that is, its mission, vision and values. The learning that is provided should reflect and reinforce them by incorporating them into the curriculum.
Are Our Philosophies a Good Match?
The university and the organization must have the same learning philosophy. The first step in developing learning and development is to do a learning-needs analysis, figuring out who needs professional development and what kind. Once those learning needs are identified, application-driven learning activities are needed to drive home key learning concepts.
Be In It for the Long Haul
A long-term relationship needs to be established and maintained. Universities shouldn’t be looked at as a “one-time” or “fix all” learning provider. They should be a one-stop resource to provide multiple avenues of learning based on the needs of the organization. A successful learning program is always a work in progress, and the learning cycle isn’t complete without an evaluation of the program’s effectiveness, which leads to decision-making and planning for future learning. Therefore, a useful and informative evaluation program needs to be a part of your overall learning operation. See what worked and what didn’t. Keep the lines of communication open between the organization and the university.
Continued reinforcement from your organization is a necessity for learning to be effective. Once a learning program has been delivered, the organization has a responsibility to reinforce the learning concepts that were covered. The university can provide the best learning program in the world, but the organization also needs to be ready to receive the learning and set the right conditions so that, when the participants go back to their jobs, they have the right supervisory support and opportunity to practice what they’ve learned. Employees need the conditions that allow them to apply the skills they just learned and to motivate them to sustain this.
Have Open Channels of Communication
Information should be shared between the university and the organization. If an overall theme comes up in the comments or discussion during a learning program, the university should share this insight with you, even if they may not be aware of the underlying feelings, thoughts or situation the participants are describing. This feedback can be extremely valuable to your organization. In addition, you should share information with the university, such as increased ROI, reduced turnover, etc. due to the training received.
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