Frequently asked questions

Real questions asked by real clients about their training programmes

I hope these prove useful, and do please remember to contact me if I haven’t answered your question here – please give me a bell or send me an email.

What’s the best sized group?

Having 8-10 participants works best, producing the full range of views, opinions and challenges yet allowing enough time for individuals to be observed and receive feedback. Some modules can work perfectly well with fewer participants, and larger groups can be managed with a co-trainer to help verify that participants have become competent with the knowledge, skills or understanding of the course.

We had training last year that was more of a lecture. What’s your training like?

First and foremost the training session is designed and delivered to maximise the learning opportunity for participants – that’s what matters because that’s our best chance to achieve the training objectives. Very few people learn best by listening to a lecture, or seeing a PowerPoint presentation.

Hence SustrainUK training is about variety (e.g. participative exercises, debate, quizzes, test drives to name a few) and taking full account of the fact that we like to learn in a range of ways; some like to get stuck in and try out some techniques, some rightly question the theoretical rigour underpinning the technique (“Who says so?”), others are primarily interested in what works and are less bothered about the alternatives or the reasons, and then there are those (of us!) whose learning perpetuates throughout and after the training – we need time to mull things over as we go along. All breeds are amply catered for during each part of the training programme.

I’m guided by the presenter’s maxim : the best way to hold a group’s attention is to create a content and delivery combination that means people won’t drift off for fear of missing something very worthwhile.

“I expected to be bored and struggle in a teaching environment / same room all day but it turned out to be fun and very interesting” DMcK, Customer Services

How do you recommend we schedule the training?

Getting the timing just right means taking into account a number of factors e.g. it’s best to schedule the training close to when the skills will be used in earnest; a six or seven week leadtime is needed in most organisations to find a free date(s); one or two days training for an individual in a given week can be accommodated but more than that can interfere with day to day job considerations and hence distract from or dilute the learning.

I will propose a schedule that allows for these factors.

Are you free at short notice?

Could be – particularly if for example you have a Friday in mind. Please give me a call to see how flexible I can be.

Do you work with associates?

At present I devise and deliver all training for clients myself.

The advantage of being small is that the person who at the outset listens to your organisational and individual needs, and who establishes the programme objectives with you, is the same person who devises and delivers your training, works with your colleagues in the follow-up phase, and reviews and evaluates the training with you. No sub-contracting, nothing lost in translation, no disappointment of feeling passed onto more junior staff for the execution phase.

The disadvantage is that a programme to be delivered simultaneously in 6 different European markets is beyond my reach.

Please have a look at my current client list to see the wide range of scale of clients that I work with.

What do you mean when you say ‘test drive’?

A test drive is a bespoke case study exercise that uses your organisation’s scenarios and data (we’ll exchange a confidentiality agreement), to give participants the opportunity to try new tools and techniques in life-like situations. The test drive is written specifically for your training, and is so-called because the invitation is to use the opportunity to try some things participants wouldn’t ordinarily try . . . just as we do when we take a showroom car out for a spin.

I rarely use role plays when training, except in circumstances where it is useful to experience being someone else, or to consider a truly hypothetical scenario.

I notice that everyone gets follow-up coaching as part of their training. What if they don’t want it?

The follow-up one-to-one with the trainer is an invitation rather than a mandatory step – some client organisations choose to make it a gentle expectation (since it has been paid for), and in the training itself I will pitch the follow-up as something that participants are entitled to, giving examples of how others have used this resource and to what benefit.

Please have a look at the Coaching & Mentoring page for more about the role of follow up one-to ones.

I believe that a one-to-one after the training is one of the most useful ways to sustain the training, and research bears this out, and so I do all I can to make it easy for someone to take up their entitlement with confidence.

Finally, if a participant doesn’t want their follow-up then I’m flexible about someone else from the training course using the time.

Can we use our offices for the training or should we use a hotel?

A lot of offices have wonderful facilities and make ideal training venues, and of course have the added benefit of being cost-effective. So, provided that there aren’t distractions and interruptions it makes sense to train on-site where feasible.

Instances where it has been right to spend extra to deliver the training off-site include times when the office facilities haven’t been suitable or conveniently located for the course participants, where clients have knows that office interruptions and distractions were likely to compromise their investment in training, and where getting away from the office is conducive to the learning e.g. a course about Stress & Change.

Whether on or off-site, the training room must be light bright and airy, big enough for twice the number of people we have, peaceful, and with equipment and facilities to enable the training material itself to be everyone’s focus throughout the day. There are some wonderful and stimulating alternatives to hotels by the way!