When you have found a training consultant with the experience, expertise and willingness to help your organisation, and agreed a detailed training brief, you are more than half way towards ensuring a successful training project. However, it is still very important to make sure that your working relationship runs smoothly, and that no misunderstandings or issues arise between the consultant and the client that sour a project.
Each individual project will have its own requirements and particular dynamic. Different consultants have different ways of working, and each individual client will have their own particular set-up, so there are no hard and fast rules for making the relationship work. However, there are some issues that should be considered in advance to help keep everyone involved happy.
The best relationships occur when all parties know exactly what is expected of them. This includes responsibilities, objectives, costs, timeframes and also less obvious things such as access to information and individuals, use of your company’s facilities and equipment and what is and what is not covered by expenses. Other legal issues such as insurance (especially if your staff are travelling off premises), ownership of plans/programmes and payment terms should also be agreed before work commences. Once you have all these factors down in black and white, then everyone is clear where they stand in advance, and the relationship should be able to progress smoothly.
Clear and open communication is a key part of the relationship between a training consultant and client. It is a good idea to hold regular progress meetings, where the client can monitor how the programme is coming along, and the consultant can bring up any unforeseen problems or hiccoughs which have arisen. Honesty is important and both parties should feel free to bring up any issues that they have encountered. The consultant can benefit from feedback on their working methods, while the constructive opinions of an experienced and skilled outside consultant can be very valuable to an organisation. Neither party feeling neglected is important in any relationship. There are also no clear rules as to how much time a training consultant will spend on-site, or whether they will be freely available to discuss the project with the client and answer any problems or issues quickly as they arise.
Keeping a log or diary as the project progresses can help ensure a good working relationship between consultant and client. This can include how and when the consultant accomplished each objective within the training programme, and can also record any issues, insights or staff responses that they encounter. This document can be very valuable both in keeping misunderstandings to a minimum and in evaluating after completion how successful the project has been, which is useful when planning similar projects in future.
A clearly agreed end point is also important to the relationship between training consultant and client. One objective of many training programmes is that the client become self sufficient, and not rely indefinitely on the consultant. Some clients may assign a member of staff to work with and learn from the consultant during the project, with a view to taking on this responsibility in future.
There will almost inevitably be setbacks or hitches in the running of any relatively large training programme or project. Some of these can be completely unforeseen, while others are more predictable. However, if you have a good working relationship where each party knows their rights and responsibilities, and you have clear channels of communication open, then it should be possible to keep any damage to a minimum.
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