How to Evaluate Training

Do you really need training?

One of the most important things you can do before you spend any money on training is to evaluate what you need and what you want to have happen after training.

Training is something you can do in so many different ways and knowing what you need and what you expect will make the difference between disappointing, ineffective use of time and money and something that can really boost your business.

Training is certainly not one generic thing. The most basic type of training might be or a specific single skill set or in can run the gamut between teaching a long evolved complex and interrelated set of skills and understandings.

The more complex or professional the material, the more the combination of knowing what you need or want, the experience and caliber of the instructor and the all-important take-aways and future experiences will become your key to success.

Do you need an instructor, teacher or mentor?

I hope it goes without saying, but there is tremendous variability in the teaching styles, patience, passion, interest and expertise of everyone who decides to teach. Just because someone is advertised as a guru and is a good salesperson does not mean he or she has true subject matter mastery. Read the bio and the resume. Inspirational speaking style will not help you when you start to use the material on your own with your own clients.

Maybe you don’t need a teacher – maybe you already understand the basics of the material but you need help and practice in a safe environment to learn in an environment where you can make mistakes and get good feedback.

An instructor is someone you might take a one-time class with. A teacher is someone who you might have several classes or an ongoing relationship with over the course of a class or several classes.

A mentor is someone with whom you have established a longer-term, customized relationship with so you can ask questions as you have them. Sometimes instead of training or in addition to training, you want to assist an expert as a learning strategy for you so you can learn more about the thinking of someone who has real mastery. A “master” is not just someone who has done a few more hours of research but someone who has done the work for years with many – at least hundreds, preferably thousands, of independent and varied clients. You can’t buy that kind of experience – you can only live and earn it. When you’ve seen it and done it all, you an answer almost any question.

Not all instructors or teachers are open to mentoring – some are just too busy or afraid of being overwhelmed by their student questions. Just know where you stand ahead of time.

Do you need certification?

Certification is not to impress your VA friends and associates with your commitment to CE – it is intended to give you a leg up in marketing to new clients. If you clients don’t find your certifications meaningful, they are not. It behooves all of us to help clients recognize the certifications that count because they represent quality and professionalism and increase the reputation of the entire industry. Not all certifications are equal!

Your Part: Continued Learning

How important is this to your future direction. It is the most critical factor. If you begin training without a clear idea of how you will integrate your new skills and understandings into what you already do and if you don’t make sure you have a direct way to let your clients know about your new skills and how those will benefit them, your training dollars and time will be wasted.

Further, training is a door opening and your responsibility is to figure out, as you are training, how you will continue to get high-quality, updated information after the initial training is over.