Custom materials to meet your specific needs
If off-the-peg training does not meet your requirements, we can design customised learning solutions that reflect your business environment and the challenges your people face.
Whether it is a two-day training event for team leaders, a self-study workbook for retail staff or an e-learning programme for new recruits, we research your needs and then design programmes, materials or events that learners will respond to and enjoy.
These case studies are examples of how we work closely with clients to design and deliver learning programmes which meet their precise and specific needs.
Training design for the ALERT disaster relief consortium
In early 2018, the award-winning UK training company Walkgrove Ltd commissioned Word Smiths to work on a project to develop an integrated training support package for the ALERT consortium, led by HelpAge International.
ALERT is an information management system that improves disaster preparedness. It helps humanitarian agencies to respond with greater speed, efficiency and effectiveness, before and immediately after a disaster strikes.
We reviewed and re-worked existing training materials to produce a variety of resources for two training events:
A four day course for organisations which do not already have well-established processes for emergency preparedness
A three-day course for organisations which do already have well-established processes for emergency preparedness.
Working closely with the HelpAge team, we produced facilitator guides, participant packs, Powerpoint slides and a number of other resources for both these courses.
At the end of the project, which took three months to complete, we received this feedback from HelpAge International:
”Thank you very much indeed for all the hard work on this. You've done a great job.”
Its been an absolute pleasure to work with you . Thank you for the extremely high quality output! We're all very proud of this work which will continue to have impact in the humanitarian sector.”
Again, thanks a lot for all the effort put in the ALERT's training material. We believe that it will help the sustainability of the platform once the project is over and participate to its greater impact on the humanitarian sector and organisations' opportunities to save lives.”
Helping a cosmetics company to write more professionally
A rapidly expanding company which makes and sells natural skincare products contacted Word Smiths to ask for a proposal to run report writing and letter writing training for its staff.
This company is passionate about providing excellent quality, service and communication. As the company grew, its founders worked with the management team to produce a vision which encapsulated the company’s approach to their business. This vision articulates different aspects of the company’s culture, including the type of service it wants to provide and the way it wants to communicate with customers and colleagues.
Senior managers understand that the way people write influences how the company is perceived by customers and colleagues. They are keen to make sure that the company’s writing ‘brand’ reflects and promotes this vision.
However, at that time many employees were struggling to write effective reports and letters. Some reports were over-long and rambling, which made it hard for readers to understand the point.
Some employees seemed to have forgotten or had never been taught the rudiments of written English: how to use the parts of speech to write a sentence, how to construct a paragraph and how to use headings and layout to hammer the message home. These problems were giving a negative impression of the company.
Word Smiths was awarded the contract to design and deliver the required training. Over a period of more than two years, Jane Smith visited the company on a monthly basis, running report and letter writing courses, providing individual coaching and helping the HR department to devise a set of standard letters to use in its recruitment process.
We had excellent feedback from our work with this company, for example:
I really enjoyed the training – but wasn’t expecting to! Now I won’t be so nervous about writing.
Thank you for a great day and valuable information.
So relaxing – such good fun.
Thank you Jane – you helped me to see how simple it really is.
We also had a very positive reaction from the Director of HR to our letter templates:
Thanks for these - we are really pleased with them. It was so helpful to have your guidance and good to involve everyone so that we all agree!
Improving report writing at a major university
A major university in the North of England identified a need for some bespoke writing training for middle and senior managers. As the department expanded, written communication was becoming more important – but at the same time standards were slipping.
Existing staff had fallen into bad writing habits and new staff were unclear about what was required. Different teams, and even different individuals, within the department were using a bewildering range of writing styles and formats. In many cases the tone of the writing was wrong for the kind of image the university wanted to portray.
Although members of the department were approachable and customer-focused in person, they seemed cold and officious in writing.
In addition, some senior managers, who are also academics, were confusing the styles traditionally required in academia with the style appropriate for a business context. In the commercial world, only the most significant information is necessary.
Summarising a wealth of related issues may appear to enhance the writer’s expert status in the academic world, but it doesn’t help the business reader.
In response to these needs, Word Smiths designed and delivered a half-day report-writing programme which was delivered in a series of four workshops.
Aims of the workshop
Our half day workshop was designed to meet the client’s aims, which were to:
Help participants improve their writing style in line with the standards identified by the Senior Management Team
Give participants an opportunity to discuss and recommend a structure for management and committee reports.
The workshop covered the structure of reports, the use of appropriate language and important aspects of correct grammar and punctuation.
Characteristics of a good report
A process for writing
A template for reports
Planning and structuring a report
Using plain English
Our four half-day workshops were extremely successful, with the majority of participants coming away from the events with a clear understanding of what was expected of them in terms of report-writing style, structure and language.
Here is some typical feedback:
The course has given me a clearer understanding and more confidence to write reports.
Enjoyable and informative.
This has made me more aware of current/modern standards.
Exactly what I required. Covered information I had not thought about for a long time.
Very practical – addressed my own writing issues as going over the fundamentals that often get forgotten.
Encouraging teamwork in the construction industry
A national training organisation commissioned a two-day training course for supervisors and employee representatives working on construction projects anywhere in the UK.
A key element of the roles of both groups is to manage employee relations so that contracts are completed on time and to budget.
A major underlying purpose is to equip participants with the knowledge and interpersonal skills required to prevent conflicts from occurring and/or to nip them in the bud if they do arise.
Aim of the training event
The overall aim of the training event is to ensure that all participants can make an effective contribution to the success of the projects they are involved with. Our intention is to help them to understand the provisions of national agreements and to encourage them to demonstrate positive leadership qualities when applying these.
The content of the course is underpinned by a number of vital messages:
The success of a contract is fundamental to stability of employment for everyone in the industry.
The agreed procedures outlined in the national agreements will help supervisors and shop stewards to work together to avoid and resolve people-related problems.
The effectiveness of the agreements depends on the ability of both sides to understand the rules and to apply them fairly and consistently.
The course encompassed a number of different learning styles.
Quizzes and role plays (for learners who favour an active approach)
Presentations and discussions (for reflectors)
Case study discussions and group tasks for problem solvers.
All examples and scenarios used in the course design were derived from typical situations faced by shop stewards and supervisors on real construction projects.
Our training programmes ensure that learners can easily transfer their learning to their everyday work because we include content, examples and case studies drawn from real business activities.
We have a strong record of success in pioneering new territory – writing materials that link to new legislation, making technical subjects accessible to beginners, thinking creatively around topics which may at first appear dry and unexciting.
Senior partner Jane Smith is firmly established as a talented and prolific designer of training and learning materials, working with organisations in both private and public sectors, including voluntary organisations.
Contact Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01873 857556 / 07815 857559 to discuss any specific training needs that your organisation may have.