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HR Magazine: Sink-or-Swim Attitude Strands New Managers

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HR Magazine, February 2003Vol. 48, No. 2

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Management Training

You’ve realized that management training is essential for your new supervisors. You’ve decided what the new supervisors need to know. Now you have to determine whether you should outsource the task or arrange for someone on staff to provide the instruction.

Each option has advantages and disadvantages.

“Internal people can cover best the essential policies and individual company philosophy around management and employment expectations,” says Elizabeth Guss, founder and managing partner of Cohesion, a management training and coaching firm in Salt Lake City. “External people can present a more contextual view of leadership and provide a ‘safe’ place for people to vent and learn, receive and incorporate new ideas.”

Ray Towle, SPHR, HR manager of a national retail chain based in Newnan, Ga., says his company uses outside vendors for basic skills and when information is changing frequently, but he prefers to let staff handle training on issues that are stable or core to the business.

Southwest Airlines’ ground operations crew uses all in-house facilitators with experts taking turns with various components. For instance, the maintenance department holds a “Tool Time” class. The in-house route is much more economical for the company, says Cheryl Hughey, director of leadership training in ground operations for the Dallas-based company.

If you do outsource, says Michael Lee Smith, SPHR, a consultant for a professional services company in Wall, N.J., “outside people have to be carefully chosen so they are not simply parroting some canned material. It is essential that whatever the [consultant] teaches supervisors is congruent with the way things actually work there. And it is important not to flit from one [consultant] to another. The fundamentals should be established and then maintained so each succeeding cohort of new supervisors is taught the same thing using the same language.”

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