Leadership training: supplier selection

10 top tips for initial supplier selection

  1. Preparation is essential: decide on desired content and objectives before engaging with suppliers. Remember you are planning training for the most senior people in the company – you can’t afford to get it wrong. Given the candidates’ seniority, you will have few line managers to rely on for information about training requirements – you may have to take the candidates’ word about what they need.


  2. Create a detailed brief for bidders This is your chance to tailor the course to suit the wishes and needs of the company’s leaders. They should have given you a clear idea of what sort of training they want. Putting together a detailed brief is the best possible means of communicating these wishes to potential trainers.


  3. Set a budget As this is leadership training, you should have a decent budget. But that doesn’t mean you should embark on it without knowing how much you have to spend. Your budget will determine the type of training you can offer, the quality of trainer you can engage and even the timeframe.


  4. Decide if you want to run leadership training and development in-house or off-site, or if you want to send candidates to public courses. Public courses will be less likely at this level, but you still need to decide between in-house and off-site training. The main benefit of in-house training is that the trainer will know the candidates and the company culture. But you may find candidates, especially at this level, get more from off-site training – they will be able to relax better, away from their offices, and may feel less inhibited.


  5. If you opt for in-house training, make sure you have appropriate facilities Senior management will expect privacy when it comes to training. You will also need to ensure that they understand training is the priority for the allocated time – in-house training facilities need to be far enough from the executive floor that delegates aren’t constantly running back to their desks.


  6. If you choose off-site training, check possible locations Cost will be a factor here, as will the suitability. While you will not want your senior management in a tatty facility, given the current economic climate, you might not be keen to be seen to splash out. You will need somewhere easy for candidates to reach, with appropriate technology.


  7. Look for recommendations for suppliers Ask your counterparts at other organisations, or contact professional bodies such as the Institute of Leadership and Management.


  8. Invite short-listed suppliers to present Supply them with the same information and ask them to attend for selection and be prepared to give a short presentation.


  9. Make sure someone from senior management attends They will be better placed than you to judge whether or not the training is appropriate and potentially useful.


  10. Look for unanimity in selection Don’t choose a supplier unless all of the stakeholders are in agreement. If none measure up, start the selection process again.

Suppliers – the next step

There are the fundamentals on which to decide: dates, numbers, fees and locations. That’s the easy bit. Subject and content development will be far more demanding. Do NOT leave this to the supplier unless you are sending delegates on a public course.

Even then you should provide a list of key topics you’d like covered. Ensure you are involved at every stage and insist you have right of sign-off or even reject content.

Training is a one-off experience for delegates and where those delegates are leaders or leader potentials that experience must be appropriate and of the highest quality.

If delegates are to be given written material to take away with them, agree in advance who owns copyright. When entering into the contract with the chosen supplier, make sure that deliverables, contents and standards are agreed beforehand. Insist on get-out clauses or fee reductions in the event of underperformance by the supplier.


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