Posted May 1, 2018
Most businesses rely on professional trainers that cater to their needs and offer programs aimed specifically at business professionals for employee training and skills development. However, we occasionally come across organizations that make a curious choice when it comes to skills development: they bring in academics instead.
To be fair, there are times when this choice makes sense. For example, some businesses offer holistic leadership development programs in conjunction with a local college or university. The college will send a series of professors to the business to teach their classes. As a sort of mini-MBA, these programs can be valuable to employees.
But when it comes to skills development, like improving writing and communication skills, the intent behind bringing in an academic is misplaced. It’s often a cost-saving measure that comes at the expense of long-term improvements. The truth is, there are significant – and meaningful – differences between professional trainers and academic trainers that make the former more appropriate for most organizations. Here’s three reasons why.
1: Corporate training is highly specialized rather than holistic or generic.
In academia, educators work with people (typically kids) who have little to no writing experience; that isn’t the case in companies. Academics may try to adapt their courses to a business environment, but because they may have little to no experience speaking to professional adults – and there’s a huge difference between talking to 20-year-olds with no professional experience and 50-year-olds who’ve been on the job for years – they may struggle to do so. Corporate training, on the other hand, is designed for and aimed at business professionals exclusively.
2: Corporate training is practical rather than theoretical.
The point of academic coursework is often more to introduce students to writing concepts than to hone skills. That’s because, in the academic world, the course must be generic to be inclusive. In addition, academics usually have little to no professional experience in the business world, so they may not be familiar with writing and reading trends there. As a result, they focus on more universal theories rather than practical applications. However, the corporate world presents a very focused group of students who needs trainers that understand where they stand and can engage with them on their level, in their situation, while providing practical skills that they can put into use as soon as they get back to their desks.
3: Corporate training is ROI-oriented.
While a college professor may charge less, a company should weigh long-term improvements against cost. We’ve had many clients who’ve hired us after hiring a professor because they found that the class the professor taught didn’t result in long-term improvement. Corporate trainers understand clearly, because the business world is their bread-and-butter, that training is an investment that is expected to pay dividends in improved performance and productivity. It’s not about grade point average; it’s about boosting the bottom line. For that reason, professional trainers employ tools and techniques to ensure long-term improvements: retention programs, webinars, online courses, pre- and post-class assessments, coaching, etc. Academics typically lack these Retention Strategies, but even if they didn’t, they would be constrained by the fact that they have a regular job that also demands their time.
In short, businesses that hire academics for skills development are basically offering to serve as guinea pigs for coursework that likely won’t – and can’t – address their underlying needs. They may save money, but they’ll lose an experience that tailored to meet their needs.
About Hurley Write, Inc.
Hurley Write, Inc., a certified women-owned small business (WBENC and WOSB), Historically Underutilized (HUB), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), has been designing and teaching customized onsite and online technical, business, and scientific writing courses for over 25 years. We also develop and teach specialty courses, such as how to write proposals and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and deviation and investigation reports, and how to prepare and give great presentations.