Better Business by Robb Hicken: When it's time for training, do a little homework first

ROBB HICKEN, chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River RegionJune 25, 2013 

Robb Hicken

For an hour, horse trainer Ariel Scott of Nyssa, Ore., worked with a little black-and-white horse named Cookie, trying to coax her into a trailer.

The 5-year-old paint had never trailered before. She was conditioned to ride straight off the ranch and into the foothills.

With patience, Scott worked through the horse's fears, always keeping the goal in sight: all four feet inside the trailer.

First, her effort was about helping the horse learn about the trailer. Second, it was about overcoming fears; third, presenting the goal; and finally, mastery.

I watched in amazement as Cookie eventually entered the trailer.

Training helps people, too, whether you're taking mandatory classes or learning by personal choice. Occupations and industries require constant training of employees and refinement of their skills. Classes, ranging from one day to many weeks, are designed with the end goal of change - whether in attitude, presentation or technology.

Understanding the end goal is critical in administering these kinds of classes. There are any number of training and coaching experts available.

If you need to hire a coaching firm, check its background, beginning at bbb.org. Ask questions. Different industry or training needs may require different questions, but here are some to keep in mind in any situation:

First and foremost ask, "Why do I want to attend or be coached?" Is it a requirement or a choice? You have to identify what you want out of the coach or class. In each case, the answer must be a desire to learn and master a topic.

Here are other questions to ask:

• Does the training promise increased wages upon completion? If it does, you may be disappointed. A "goal" of making more money is not a good mindset, as it cannot always be obtained; however, certain technical classes may be required by your employer for a pay raise.

• How many people complete the program?

• Is the coaching for a set period? How long?

• What's the coach's background?

Don't forget there may be some setbacks. Scott's coaching was good enough to get the horse inside the trailer, but more than once the horse backed out and training restarted.

When selecting a coach, ask about:

• Refunds. Check the fine print. What if you can't complete the program? Any refund promises not stated in the contract should be written down, initialed by the coach and the student. If canceled, is another class optional?

• Additional fees. Are there outside materials for the class adding to the cost?

• Payment plan. Can you pay in installments if the course lasts for several weeks?

• For certification classes, what is the proof the training complies with industry standards?

• Testimonials. Do they match up with what the company promises?

•••

rhicken@boise.bbb.org, 947-2115

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