While you weren’t looking, a shift took place in the training world over the past few years: Companies have been doing less formal training and more informal training.

The obvious reason for this is the recession, during which many firms slashed training expenses. Managers, lacking the budget to bring in outside trainers and too busy to develop internal workshops, have instead been sharpening their informal coaching skills.

This isn’t great news for training providers, but at the RLI we see a silver lining because there are two big, often overlooked, problems with bringing in outside consultants to train your people:

Problem 1: When the trainers leave, there’s often little or no follow up. Even when the training is excellent, the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors people learned, simply don’t stick.

Problem 2: Managers, who are ultimately accountable for employee training and developing their own people, aren’t sharpening their own talent-development skills when they “farm out” training. I recently attended a long instructor led training (ILT) session with a great outside consultant; the company’s sales manager sat in the back of the room all day and fiddled with his iPhone. He was barely paying attention (which meant he apparently had no intention of revisiting the content with his people) and he sure as heck wasn’t becoming a better talent developer himself during the session.

We’re not saying all outside training is bad. In fact, ILT can be a powerful addition to any training initiative. However, such events should be viewed as part of a larger program and not as stand-alone events.

One of the great things about coaching is that you’re doing the training yourself. You’re totally engaged in developing people and you’re sharpening your skills every time you do it. The payoff for companies is huge when managers develop their coaching skills.

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