Keep Calm and Trust Your Training Vendor
This was originally published on td.org in September 2018.
If you frequent lots of training content sites, you may have read “Is Your Outsourced Training Project Going Off Track?” You may also have found yourself cringing as you read because you recognized yourself in the examples of what not to do. Well, no matter. Now that your misbehaviors have been exposed to you, you’re committed to doing better in the future! You’ll take all recommended actions to keep your outsourced projects on track. . . if you can figure out how to change what you’re doing.
While recognizing that your behavior needs to change is the first step to changing your behavior, it’s not the only step. You probably have some bad habits, and these can’t be changed simply by recognition. You’re not going to stop nitpicking your training vendor or subjecting them to 3,000 rounds of increasingly unhelpful SME feedback unless you trust your training vendor.
Trust Your Choice of Training Vendor
Trust in your vendor starts with trust in your ability to choose a good vendor. Unless you chose your vendor by drawing their name from a hat, there was some rationale for your decision. Remembering and reminding yourself of that rationale should create a fundamental level of trust.
That’s not to say that every training vendor is trustworthy, nor is it to say that even a trustworthy vendor won’t let you down from time to time. Sometimes you’ll find that your trust in a vendor was misplaced, which might make you understandably wary with the next vendor. However, if you go into a relationship with a new training vendor expecting that you can’t trust them, you’ll sabotage your project. It’s better to start off trusting in the vendor you so carefully chose.
Trust Your Training Vendor’s Track Record
When you sign a contract with a vendor, you should already know their track record. Getting that information is surprisingly easy— if you put out an RFP, you can make it clear that you expect documentation of good work. Any training vendor worth their salt will give you a list of past clients and awards they’ve won. They’ll show you samples of their successful products and projects and provide references so you can corroborate what they’re saying. And, of course, Google can turn up reviews of their work and insights into their processes.
You’ve done your research, so now you can reap the benefits of your hard work. Any time you freeze up and think, “There’s no way this project is going to get done on time unless I meet with the vendor every afternoon for an hour! I need to set up a recurring meeting pronto!”, just remember that six different references confirmed that this training vendor can work miracles on an accelerated timeline with minimal client supervision. You know the track record. Now trust it!
Trust Your Training Vendor’s Expertise
You’re a well-educated person with lots of work experience, and that’s awesome! What you probably don’t have is a degree in project managing and instructional design and writing and graphic design and programming. Collectively, though, your vendor does have all that expertise (you can verify this by requesting team resumes during the proposal process), and they have it so you don’t have to.
You’re there to provide context and insight into the training content and audience mindset. You’re not there to mandate the exact visual design or rewrite most of the content. If you’ve ever attempted to do those things, then you (possibly unwittingly) ended up paying a lot of money for the professionals who work for your vendor to redesign or rewrite what you gave them to reach industry standards. If you’re not professionally trained, you cannot design or write or anything else at the same level that a professional can. Let the experts you’re paying to do those things actually do them!
When you have that trust in your vendor, odds are your trust will be rewarded. Things will go more smoothly, and your training project will stay on track.