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Design your own training programme


Investing in developing your team or your whole organisation is a bold commitment. Choose the right training and it can help you improve productivity, achieve more goals and make a lasting difference to working life. Get it wrong and you’ve invested money from the shrinking (or non-existent) L&D budget and simply opened a can of worms too vast to solve.

One solution is to tailor the learning to your specific needs. In short, to build your own training programme.

In this blog =mc Director Charlotte Scott looks at some considerations for tailored training, and shares examples of who it’s worked for.

The Bespoke Approach

At =mc we regularly work with organisations to design training programmes that suit the specific needs of their teams – which can vary dramatically. We also deliver a wide range of standard programmes that have proven to support people to be effective in their roles. But for many customers a more bespoke approach is needed. Consider the following:

Align and Conquer

Within any organisation the skills that staff need may be dependent on:

  • the results strived for or the work being delivered
  • customer and stakeholder groups
  • the opportunities and challenges present
  • the organisational culture.

An effective training programme will align with these demands, so that people can connect the learning to their current situations in a practical action-orientated way.

Consider also the idea that people learn better when they have to learn, when they have an immediate need to apply a new skill or to take a new approach. This concept is called just-in-time training. It comes from Toyota who promote using effort only when it is needed. In training this means taking a flexible approach to learning, giving people the range of skills they need, at the time they need them.

Today’s learners expect training and development to be relevant and instantly applicable, not purely interesting. When it is, their learning experience is more stimulating, and they have a strong drive to apply what they have learnt back at work.

Example 1

The following example of a bespoke training programme =mc designed for The Institute of Physics illustrates just-in-time training:

The Institute of Physics works to advance physics for the benefit of all. It provides professional support and engages with policymakers and the public to inspire, represent and celebrate all who share a passion for physics.

The Institute recognises that people at every level need to get the very best from themselves and from each other, to develop effective working teams and to influence both internally and externally. Cross team working is vital to the Institute’s success which means people need to be supported to work fluidly with each other outside of formal hierarchical structures.

We worked with the Institute to deliver a Personal Development Programme for all staff. The programme took elements from our management, personal effectiveness and communication training courses. By attending the programme, staff are now able to focus their time and energy in the right place, develop and work well with others and communicate and engage others effectively.

What do you need?

In order to design a programme that works, it helps to first figure out what you need.

Spend time talking to your team, walk in their shoes and identify what they need every day to be even more successful. Work out what is working and what isn’t working. For example, are teams who need to work together doing so effectively? Are any workplace conflicts not being resolved? Are people successfully delegating work? What results are people struggling to achieve and why? Are people spending their time and effort in the right places?

Once you have had identified these needs you can then come to us with the learning outcomes you want: what will people be confident and able to do moving forward? We can then help you build a programme that achieves these outcomes.

What do you do if you’re not sure the assessment of team needs goes deep enough? If you can figure out some of the headline outcomes you want to achieve, we could then design a programme that can flex to the group needs discovered during the training. How does that work? Let’s take a look at this example…

Example 2

Frontline AIDS (previously known as the International HIV/AIDS Alliance) works towards a future free from AIDS for everyone, everywhere. Through work with community groups in the countries most affected by the global AIDS epidemic, they are committed to helping marginalised people who are denied HIV prevention and treatment simply because of who they are and where they live.


Frontline AIDS is a matrix organisation and managers need to work with people in their own project teams and across other functions/project portfolios, in person and through remote management. The matrix approach allows a more integrated and global delivery of work, but it increases complexity with the potential for competing goals and poor accountability without control.

To help in the first instance, we tailored our standard Leadership Skills for Managers programme for Frontline Managers. It was run as two consecutive days with the third day a month later. The first two days of the training programme kept some core elements of our Leadership Skills course but were adapted to also leading effectively without authority. The tailoring came as we then designed the third day based on the aims the participants shared on day one. Content for day three was taken from our Managing Difficult Conversations and Coaching Skills programmes. This means that this cohort of Managers have become more confident and skilled in holding performance conversations with people they don’t formally manage and are still able to maintain and create positive working relationships with these colleagues. Through becoming stronger coaches, they can also now support others to solve their own problems, building capability and effectiveness close to where the problems are.


Training is especially effective when it directly answers the needs of the participants. In order to do this, you might need to select elements from a variety of programmes. It also works well to have it relate to participants current situations – supporting people with skills and knowledge they can implement successfully and straight-away. If your teams are facing a range of demands, consider what will make them even more effective and then contact us to create a programme that works.

You might also be interested to know that the continuing adaptation of the Leadership Skills for Managers programme for various customers led to us changing our standard programmes to better suit organisational needs. There are now 4 standard programmes in the management and leadership training suite, take a look at them on our training programme page.

If you’d like to speak to me about any aspect of this article, email me at, call  020 7978 1516 or click to contact us online.

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Charlotte Scott

About Charlie Scott

Charlie specialises in leadership development, team facilitation and strategy development. Charlie worked for over 20 years in the not-for-profit sector. Before joining =mc ten years ago, she created and...