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10 Ways to Create a Customised Education Cohort

More often than not, an organisation and its learning and development (L&D) or leadership teams will recognise the training gaps that they want to fill and the problems they want to solve with people development. But identifying the most appropriate type of training to offer can be more of a challenge.

As more employers look to build a better learning environment, allowing staff the opportunity to acquire skills flexibly, informally, and online, there may be a misconception that businesses would rather not offer bespoke training options, instead favouring generic training courses.

This is perhaps fuelled by the concern that HR Specialists will struggle to find willing volunteers to form a customised education cohort prepared to commit time out of the workplace to complete their training, or a fear that University-led programmes may be too academic for some of their people.

However, there are many benefits to commissioning a custom programme; they’re practical, delegates can almost immediately apply what they learn and see tangible business improvement; they’re career boosting, with options for qualifications that can take careers to another level; they’re personal, often offering one-to-one sessions with trained business coaches and they’re flexible, giving participants the opportunity to take a blended approach with focused out-of-the-workplace space to learn in equal measure to learning online.

Although the idea of generic courses may seem appealing for ease of access, it’s more likely that a custom programme will be more suited to most organisations and be more rewarding for their staff. Of course, the next step is to recruit the right delegates and form a customised education cohort.

To help organisations attract staff to a customised cohort, we’ve identified 10 simple steps to recruiting an executive education cohort:

1. Highlight progression opportunities: For people to invest their time in training they need to see the benefits, and no benefit is more appealing than career progression. When having a conversation with promising talent, be armed with person specific information i.e. salary, scarcity of people in such roles and what their potential could be.

2. Advertise internally: Don’t presume that willing delegates will automatically come to you. We know that many employees are still wary of asking for training, and that is perhaps even more prevalent since the dramatic rise in hybrid or home working. You can attract the right people by advertising the opportunities and making it clear who the course is suitable for.

3. Promote the potential job satisfaction: We all enjoy the feeling of success, however the pride that comes with personal and business growth, job creation and a nurtured workforce can be incredibly satisfying. Highlight how training provides a basis for all of this and much more.

4. Use colleague commitment to your advantage: Use those rising stars that have already signed up for further training to your advantage to encourage others to sign up. Colleague commitment could mean the difference between a yes or no.

5. Offer taster sessions to address fears: For many, the fear that they are not academic enough for formal training is enough to put them off. The idea that those without academic qualifications in their backgrounds will struggle compared to their more theoretically qualified peers can be debunked by allowing potential delegates to try before they commit.

6. Make provision flexible: One of the major barriers to take up of formal training opportunities is a fear that the training commitment will add to an already high-pressured schedule. Although a commitment of some level is required, by offering flexible teaching methods, including webinars and practice-based tutoring that directly reflects their day job, formal management training can seem less overwhelming.

7. Offer dedicated support: Regularly checking in with managers and leaders undertaking training is vital. Consider offering them further support if they need help running their teams while they have the extra workload.

8. Tackle real business problems and measure impact: By using training tasks to tackle genuine business problems, delegates can instantly the see the real-world benefits of management training for themselves.

9. Measure the impact in real business terms: The impact of properly trained management teams on business performance and productivity should be regularly measured. This measurement can help to justify programmes to senior leadership and ensure training continues.

10. Communicate the benefits internally: Once your first cohort has begun to take part in training, it is essential that their personal progress and commercial success is shared with the wider organisation. Doing so could be the catalyst needed to inspire willing but uncertain employees to seek formal training opportunities.

You can explore further how customised programme development can support your organisation.

Disclaimer
Blog posts give the views of the author, and are not necessarily those of Alliance Manchester Business School and The University of Manchester.

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