3. How can I do this cheaply ?

What is cheap for you may be expensive for someone else – and what is expensive for you may be cheap for another! Whatever the number, cost and good value are always important. We have a responsibility to not waste money.

Without wanting to sound like a stuck record, the most important part of training being “cheap” is that it works. Training where you don’t spend much money, but where performance doesn’t improve is INFINITELY expensive. You spent something, but you got nothing back.

The most common way of wasting money is training people on the wrong thing. You train them on interacting with communities; they already know how, but managers are asking them to do another task, rather than spend time to build relationships. You train them on supply chain management, but the reason why things take so long is that your procedures aren’t appropriate for an emergency. You train them on conducting focus group discussions, when your main problems are in analyzing quantitative data. You train them on designing water supply projects, when they really need to know how to demonstrate the correct use of water treatment chemicals.

Take the time to think about where your problems really are, and whether staff skills can (help) fix them, and you will go a long way to avoiding the biggest waste of money. Ask yourself, could they do it if their lives depended on it? If yes, then you may not need to train them on it. Ask yourself, if they can’t do this, will the project fail? If no, then you may not need to train them on it.

You can see a diagram of how to sequence capacity building interventions here. The first and most fundamental thing to do is to define what good or excellent performance looks like. What are the standards to be reached, and what do good performers do to reach them? In some situations, explaining this can be enough. This can be the first step in “training” staff – being very explicit with them when they join about what they’re expected to do.

Watch out, though! If YOU are not clear on what standards they need to reach, and what they’re supposed to do to get to them, you will need to get clear on this first! Generalizations and nice words won’t do the trick. You need to be specific. Speak to CARE technical experts in your office (or globally) to get advice on this. This will help you in all sorts of ways, not just for training but general management too.

If your idea of training or learning is a five day training course in a hotel, then you might be put off by cost. In some cases, you will need precisely that to get the result you need. In others, other options might work.

– Provide short training sessions for staff at the start of the day, so that people can attend them before starting the rest of their work.

– Bring in a trainer to work with several groups in your office, but stagger the timing so that you can accommodate each group in an office meeting room or similar.

– Lead the training yourself, using evidence-based training methods. You could ask a colleague, too. This may be the best use of your time. It is not always possible, though. Whether it is effective will depend on your training design and facilitation skills.

– Consider online facilitated training courses for highly dispersed groups (field offices, or regional/global training). This needs some extra planning and a specific approach – contact the CEG Capacity Building Coordinator for advice.

– Experiment with conference calls or webinars on important topics to you. In many locations where CARE works, internet connections wouldn’t be good enough to make this work. In lots of others, it would be fine. This is good if there are announcements or changes in policy that need to be communicated to big groups of people. You could also let colleagues in different locations know about expected standards using this approach.

Not everything needs money, or much money. If you manage a team in one location, and you have a room where everyone fits, then you can train them with basically no cost.

Sometimes you need to do something more complex, and that costs. Project funding will normally not directly cover the cost of running a course for CARE staff. But you need to train staff. Normally, you can budget a proportion of staff costs for training/staff development. This could be used for organizing a specific course, or for sending staff members on external training courses. If you haven’t budgeted for this, you have not budgeted for the full cost of a staff member or volunteer. Training is part of having someone work with you and a vital investment in the future.

If you do not have a budget for a specific event or initiative, it may be possible to share costs between departments or between agencies. You might charge a participation fee that corresponds to each participant’s share of the costs. Or you may ask each participant’s team to pay their travel, accommodation and meeting costs. That way you spread the cost over several budgets. It is much more likely that you can find money that way.