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Customized training an increasing part of Carnegie offerings


Ten years ago, customized training made up between 5 and 10 percent of the services that Dale Carnegie & Associates Inc. provided. Now, that number is approaching 50 percent of its training repertoire, says Paul Calkins, senior business consultant at the company’s Des Moines office.

“The interesting thing for us is that we’ve had this marvelous name recognition,” Calkins said. “But surprisingly, there are many companies that don’t really know very much about what we do. They may not know that we do customization or these special workshops.”

Generally, even though companies have resumed hiring, many are not returning to the employment levels they had before the downturn in the economy, Calkins said.

“So managers in particular are carrying heavier loads and have greater requirements to provide leadership to more people,” he said. “All those things create more need for training, and there are also more dollars available for training than two or three years ago. It’s kind of like advertising. Training and advertising take the first hits (in budget cuts), but you can only go without them for so long.”

Many large companies maintain a performance management process for their employees in which individuals advance along specific career tracks. As those people reach milestones for advancement, it creates the need for additional training.

“The customization there is more of a customized learning plan that fits the training plan for that employee,” Calkins said.

Dale Carnegie also provides customized training designed to help companies reach strategic objectives. For that, “we might provide training for salespeople, for leader-managers, for people that are moving up the ranks,” he said. “I think a major issue for companies is keeping the pipeline full in terms of employees. If they have a means of developing those people, then that makes the process of keeping that pipeline full easier.”

Another kind of customization Dale Carnegie Training offers is tailoring its core courses in interpersonal communications or sales performance to a particular business, either by customizing the delivery of the course or fitting the materials to the terminology used by that company or its industry.

The companies that seem to have the greatest success in training focus on the things they do best internally, and then turn to outside trainers to fill in the skills that are harder to teach, particularly “soft” skills such as leadership and communications, Calkins said.

And though it’s not required to take the basic Dale Carnegie courses prior to receiving the customized training, “we believe that people who have taken the Dale Carnegie courses become more trainable in any kind of environment,” he said.

“It always comes back to the fundamentals. The people that do the fundamentals well succeed.”

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