Hiring Skilled Facilitators Vs. Training Existing Staff

[Photo credit: Can hierarchy and sharing co-exist? By opensourceway on Flickr] Climbing the ladder

Organizations that are moving their online training program into an online space are faced with a difficult decision that will endure for the life of the program. Does it make sense to hire a new facilitator who is skilled in online work, or train an existing employee to do the work?

Pros of hiring from within

Both decisions have pros and cons, and ultimately organizations must make a decision based on their individual needs. However, there are some clear benefits and drawbacks.

One top pro is that you know your employees and what they do. You have a history with them that indicates how adept they are at change or if they have untapped skills that can be used. It can make the transition much smoother. Internal employees also know you and what you do. It takes less time for these kinds of hires to understand the details of your organization and your mission. An existing trainer also has in-depth knowledge of your material and audience.

Cost-saving might also be a factor in your decision. Hiring from within reduces hard hiring costs, such as interview time, office space, or even relocation fees.

Cons of hiring from within

Promoting a staff member into a new training position has inherent disadvantages. If multiple employees are vying for one job, it could create animosity among the whole team. This could leak into management, especially if there are individuals that are resistant to strategic change–common in organizations considering a shift to online learning.

A bigger problem with hiring for computer-based training is that you probably don’t know what you don’t know. How do you develop talent if you’re not sure what to do? Similarly, not all organizations are structurally set up to develop internal talent. These issues combined lead to time, which you might not have to dedicate to transforming your in-person trainers into online pros.

Pros of hiring a new trainer

Those are all compelling reasons for tapping your internal talent pool, but hiring an external trainer who has detailed knowledge about online facilitation can be a great investment for your entire organization. While an external trainer won’t know as much about your organization as an existing team member does, they will have critical skills in the online environment. Teaching online is different from teaching in a live classroom, and an expert will already know how to overcome obstacles.

The new skills an outside hire will bring will also move into the rest of your organization. The energy and fresh ideas a new person brings can revitalize your workforce and feed ideas to the rest of the staff. This is especially true if your new hire has experience at a competitor organization. The boost to your overall intellectual capital may bring benefits that are hard to quantify from the onset.

Cons of hiring a new trainer

Expertise aside, outside trainers come with their own host of drawbacks. They cost more. According to a study from Matthew Bidwell, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, external hires get paid 18% to 20% more than internal employees do for the same job. They also receive lower performance reviews.

They’re also more likely to leave. That’s difficult for an organization to handle when they’ve paid more and have less stability.

Verdict: which is better?

Your organization must decide if it’s better to hire from within than outside, so there’s no correct decision. However, after working for years with organizations in the early stages of creating an online program, I recommend hiring from outside.

For most entities, a new online-based program represents a strategic change, and strategic changes are difficult to spark from within. Most also lack staff who have computer skills and skills related to communicating online. Fear of technology is a powerful inhibitor, so it helps to have someone who feels free moving in an online classroom.

Organizations that for some reason can’t hire a new staff member should at the very least hire an online education advisor. This person can coach your team through the experience of online training and help develop a structure you can use for the life of your program.

Making a hiring decisions for online trainers is hard. Contact Talance for a free consultation to understand what path might be better for you.

[Photo credit: Can hierarchy and sharing co-exist? By opensourceway on Flickr]

Hiring Skilled Facilitators Vs. Training Existing Staff

Hands climbing up a ladder

Organizations that are moving their online training program into an online space are faced with a difficult decision that will endure for the life of the program. Does it make sense to hire a new facilitator who is skilled in online work, or train an existing employee to do the work?

Pros of hiring from within

Both decisions have pros and cons, and ultimately organizations must make a decision based on their individual needs. However, there are some clear benefits and drawbacks.

One top pro is that you know your employees and what they do. You have a history with them that indicates how adept they are at change or if they have untapped skills that can be used. It can make the transition much smoother. Internal employees also know you and what you do. It takes less time for these kinds of hires to understand the details of your organization and your mission. An existing trainer also has in-depth knowledge of your material and audience.

Cost-saving might also be a factor in your decision. Hiring from within reduces hard hiring costs, such as interview time, office space, or even relocation fees.

Cons of hiring from within

Promoting a staff member into a new training position has inherent disadvantages. If multiple employees are vying for one job, it could create animosity among the whole team. This could leak into management, especially if there are individuals that are resistant to strategic change–common in organizations considering a shift to online learning.

A bigger problem with hiring for computer-based training is that you probably don’t know what you don’t know. How do you develop talent if you’re not sure what to do? Similarly, not all organizations are structurally set up to develop internal talent. These issues combined lead to time, which you might not have to dedicate to transforming your in-person trainers into online pros.

Pros of hiring a new trainer

Those are all compelling reasons for tapping your internal talent pool, but hiring an external trainer who has detailed knowledge about online facilitation can be a great investment for your entire organization. While an external trainer won’t know as much about your organization as an existing team member does, they will have critical skills in the online environment. Teaching online is different from teaching in a live classroom, and an expert will already know how to overcome obstacles.

The new skills an outside hire will bring will also move into the rest of your organization. The energy and fresh ideas a new person brings can revitalize your workforce and feed ideas to the rest of the staff. This is especially true if your new hire has experience at a competitor organization. The boost to your overall intellectual capital may bring benefits that are hard to quantify from the onset.

Cons of hiring a new trainer

Expertise aside, outside trainers come with their own host of drawbacks. They cost more. According to a study from Matthew Bidwell, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, external hires get paid 18% to 20% more than internal employees do for the same job. They also receive lower performance reviews.

They’re also more likely to leave. That’s difficult for an organization to handle when they’ve paid more and have less stability.

Verdict: which is better?

Your organization must decide if it’s better to hire from within than outside, so there’s no correct decision. However, after working for years with organizations in the early stages of creating an online program, I recommend hiring from outside.

For most entities, a new online-based program represents a strategic change, and strategic changes are difficult to spark from within. Most also lack staff who have computer skills and skills related to communicating online. Fear of technology is a powerful inhibitor, so it helps to have someone who feels free moving in an online classroom.

Organizations that for some reason can’t hire a new staff member should at the very least hire an online education advisor. This person can coach your team through the experience of online training and help develop a structure you can use for the life of your program.

Making a hiring decisions for online trainers is hard. Contact us for a free consultation to understand what path might be best for you.

[Photo credit: Can hierarchy and sharing co-exist? By opensourceway on Flickr]

It Pays To Evaluate Professional Development

With the work it takes to implement a training program, it can be difficult to find time and resources to evaluate the effectiveness of it.

Many administrators view evaluation as time-consuming and costly, but they shouldn’t. In fact, by ignoring how well (or poorly) your training program is engaging participants and making a difference in their work, you could be wasting time and money.

Thomas Guskey writes specifically about evaluating professional development programs in his article “Does It Make a Difference? Evaluating Professional Development,” but his “Critical Levels of Professional Development Evaluation” apply to any program without the burden of cost and time.

Good evaluations don’t have to be complicated. They simply require thoughtful planning, the ability to ask good questions, and a basic understanding of how to find valid answers. What’s more, they can provide meaningful information that you can use to make thoughtful, responsible decisions about professional development processes and effects.

Free Guide: E-Learning Strategy Essentials

Learn what steps to take when as you begin planning your online training program, including need assessment and more.

Download the free guide now!

It Pays To Evaluate Professional Development

With the work it takes to implement a training program, it can be difficult to find time and resources to evaluate the effectiveness of it.

Many administrators view evaluation as time-consuming and costly, but they shouldn’t. In fact, by ignoring how well (or poorly) your training program is engaging participants and making a difference in their work, you could be wasting time and money.

Thomas Guskey writes specifically about evaluating professional development programs in his article “Does It Make a Difference? Evaluating Professional Development,” but his “Critical Levels of Professional Development Evaluation” apply to any program without the burden of cost and time.

Good evaluations don’t have to be complicated. They simply require thoughtful planning, the ability to ask good questions, and a basic understanding of how to find valid answers. What’s more, they can provide meaningful information that you can use to make thoughtful, responsible decisions about professional development processes and effects.

Looking for more advice about planning and evaluating your training program? Request a free copy of our e-book CHW E-Learning Strategy Essentials.

A Handy Guide To ID Training Needs

The solution to all performance problems is not always training. Sometimes it can be as simple as a workflow improvement or a job aid.

The flowchart “Is training really the answer?” from instruction expert Cathy Moore helps you decide if your organization needs a training program or might need a simpler resource. Moore has also created an 8-minute video that explains the flowchart in depth.

Flowchart: Is training really the answer? Flowchart: Is training really the answer?

Free Training Program Consultation

Is training the solution to your workplace problem? Contact us for a free consultation to discuss options.

A Handy Guide To I.D. Training Needs

The solution to all performance problems is not always training. Sometimes it can be as simple as a workflow improvement or a job aid.

The flowchart “Is training really the answer?” from instruction expert Cathy Moore helps you decide if your organization needs a training program or might need a simpler resource. Moore has also created an 8-minute video that explains the flowchart in depth.

Flowchart Is Training Really the Answer

Is training the solution to your workplace problem? Contact us for a free consultation to discuss options.

Is Your Organization Cut Out For Blended Learning?

Computer-based training makes it easy to offer unified training across vast geographic distances. However, some topics are better delivered in a live setting. You don’t have to choose between the two training methods, however, if you adopt a blended learning approach.

Take the example of the Office of Healthy Communities (OHC) at the Washington Department of Health. The Office of Healthy Communities put the best elements of in-person training with the best of online training to implement a blended learning model for their statewide community health worker training program (read more in the case study). OHC allows its network of facilitators around Washington to supplement a brief live session with an in-depth online course that contains assessments, assignment tools, and collaboration.

The training model is efficient, lean, and scalable, which allows it to meet funding variables and limitations. It makes training fast and easy, which can be difficult in Washington. It’s a large state with rural pockets not easily accessible for traditional in-person learning programs.

“E-learning allows us to reach remote areas of the state to teach community health workers. Staff only need to stay one day in each location so it lowers costs of delivering the training significantly,” says Debbie Spink, instructor and community health worker training system coordinator. “We need the support of the online curriculum. It would be cost prohibitive to offer this training only in-person.”

Is a blended learning approach right for your organization? Here are five secrets of what it takes to build a winning program.

Set educational goals

Saving money and expanding training capacity might be overall goals of moving to a blended model, but organizations need to set educational goals that fit the new strategy. Find ways to set small reasonable goals from the beginning, such as offering short courses for skill enhancement or in languages for a small set of your student audience. Start small, document successes, and then make a plan to expand.

Include trainers from the start

A new training strategy does not mean your training staff will be out of a job, but they might not realize that. Remember to include your training staff from the beginning and remind them that the technology is a complement to their work in a face-to-face setting. Work with them to identify ways to use technology as a tool rather than a job replacement.

Support student needs

Not all students learn the same way–some are better visual learners, some do fine with self-paced study, some might have different language skills. Evaluate what your students need, and when you look for a learning technology, find one that matches your student population.

Anticipate pushback

Change is a frightening word at some organizations, and not always welcome. Anticipate pushback from trainers, participants and administrative staff. Be ready with a list of benefits and get buy-in early. Listening and being open is often the best way to address concerns.

Adapt and evaluate

A blended learning model is new for many organizations, and new systems can be a challenge to implement. As you roll out your blended learning program, frequently evaluate it so you can quickly identify problems and address them.

Free Guide: E-Learning Strategy Essentials

Learn what steps to take when as you begin planning your online training program, including need assessment and more.

Download the free guide now!

Is Your Organization Cut Out For Blended Learning?

Cydcor Conference training by Cydcor Offices

Computer-based training makes it easy to offer unified training across vast geographic distances. However, some topics are better delivered in a live setting. You don’t have to choose between the two training methods, however, if you adopt a blended learning approach.

Take the example of the Office of Healthy Communities (OHC) at the Washington Department of Health. The Office of Healthy Communities put the best elements of in-person training with the best of online training to implement a blended learning model for their statewide community health worker training program (read more in the case study). OHC allows its network of facilitators around Washington to supplement a brief live session with an in-depth online course that contains assessments, assignment tools, and collaboration.

The training model is efficient, lean, and scalable, which allows it to meet funding variables and limitations. It makes training fast and easy, which can be difficult in Washington. It’s a large state with rural pockets not easily accessible for traditional in-person learning programs.

“E-learning allows us to reach remote areas of the state to teach community health workers. Staff only need to stay one day in each location so it lowers costs of delivering the training significantly,” says Debbie Spink, instructor and community health worker training system coordinator. “We need the support of the online curriculum. It would be cost prohibitive to offer this training only in-person.”

Is a blended learning approach right for your organization? Here are five secrets of what it takes to build a winning program.

Set educational goals

Saving money and expanding training capacity might be overall goals of moving to a blended model, but organizations need to set educational goals that fit the new strategy. Find ways to set small reasonable goals from the beginning, such as offering short courses for skill enhancement or in languages for a small set of your student audience. Start small, document successes, and then make a plan to expand.

Include trainers from the start

A new training strategy does not mean your training staff will be out of a job, but they might not realize that. Remember to include your training staff from the beginning and remind them that the technology is a complement to their work in a face-to-face setting. Work with them to identify ways to use technology as a tool rather than a job replacement.

Support student needs

Not all students learn the same way–some are better visual learners, some do fine with self-paced study, some might have different language skills. Evaluate what your students need, and when you look for a learning technology, find one that matches your student population.

Anticipate pushback

Change is a frightening word at some organizations, and not always welcome. Anticipate pushback from trainers, participants and administrative staff. Be ready with a list of benefits and get buy-in early. Listening and being open is often the best way to address concerns.

Adapt and evaluate

A blended learning model is new for many organizations, and new systems can be a challenge to implement. As you roll out your blended learning program, frequently evaluate it so you can quickly identify problems and address them.

[Photo credit: Cydcor Conference training by Cydcor Offices, on Flickr]