Exploring how Chisholm established a great industry partnership with vehicle manufacturer CNH Industrial

Strategic, client focused, long-term commitment are words that may come to mind when describing an excellent relationship between an organisation and a training provider.

But what do they really mean? Are they simply buzz words that sound impressive? And how can you distinguish substance from jargon?

Strategy vs stop-gap solution

Strategic partnership requires involvement with organisational planning, as opposed to providing an immediate answer to a particular skill requirement at the operational level. It requires time invested in really getting to know an organisation – understanding their business objectives; studying their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities – to be able to provide valuable input into human resource capability planning.

As CNH Industrial’s Head of Corporate and External Affairs Ron Grasso explains, strategic partnership requires trust, building a relationship that allows an organisation to work with its training partner like an extension of its own organisation.

“A strategic training partner is one that can look ahead, plan and provide a raft of solutions that will increase your productivity, efficiency and competitiveness in the marketplace,” says Ron. “It is much more than a commercial relationship based on transactional services.”

“For our IVECO brand for example, Chisholm’s knowledge in our niche market which requires a high level of customisation and an agile workforce enables us to work together to continually create greater competitive advantage in the longer term.”

Long-term commitment vs transactional service

The Australian Public Service Commissioner, John Lloyd, in his keynote address at the Australian Human Resource Institute’s recent HR in the Public Sector Symposium held in Melbourne, challenged HR managers “to see the world through your CEO’s eyes.”

This is an important reminder not only to HR managers, but to training providers working in tandem with an organisation’s human resource team. The quality of staff and leaders are critical to an organisation’s performance. And no doubt, takes a long-term partnering commitment to develop a deeper understanding of organisational culture and goals in order to effect change in workforce planning capabilities and practices.

According to Ron Grasso, a training partner must be open and flexible about how they work with organisations. When CNH - a multinational industrial vehicle manufacturer with local operations in Dandenong, south-east Melbourne -  started an informal relationship with Chisholm six years ago, they were drawn to Chisholm’s willingness to support CNH’s own in-house trainers at Chisholm’s facility, which added a different dimension to their program.

The partnership has since evolved, with four certificate programs now being conducted at the workplace to provide new and improved learning pathways for employees.

CNH are also looking at extending its training programs through Chisholm to the agriculture and construction sectors of its business.

Client focus vs standardisation

Program customisation and flexible delivery are at the heart of being client focused. Projects designed to align with identified issues and objectives increase workforce engagement, allowing employees to implement what they’ve learnt immediately. “Just in Time Training”, based on the belief that learners benefit most when training is received at the time when particular skills are required, is already revolutionising the workplace, for example by providing problem solving skills where similar challenges have been identified.

At CNH, on-site training is an important consideration, with little impact on productivity since employees do not spend time away from the workplace.

Capability vs competence

Being capable is more than being competent. While competence is an ingredient of being capable, developing capable people must be central to an organisation’s human resource approach. In an increasingly competitive business environment characterised by often turbulent economic forces, people and organisations need a high level of adaptability and innovation to be successful. As a result, workforce training must provide a variety of learning experiences, such as problem based learning using critical thinking, collaboration and teamwork.

“No person should be restricted to a specific job. Training allows the workforce to learn a variety of skills and teaches them to be flexible,” says Ron. “We share Chisholm’s goal in building a capability base.”

Start 2016 with a strategic training partner

At this time when businesses are reflecting on the year that has been and look ahead to the new year, have you included a strategic training partner as part of your human resource capability plan? Now is the time to start the conversation and ask them some questions. Can you conduct a needs analysis? Do you have bespoke accredited programs? Will you evaluate our results against organisational objectives? Even for those already working with training providers, the conversation must continue to deepen, enabling true strategic partnership through trust, knowledge and engagement.