CPD Accredited Courses

Nelson Training now CPD Accredited
CPD Standards Office Accreditation for Nelson Training

Nelson Training now CPD Accredited

Our Presentation Skills and Public Speaking, Respecting Difference and the Value of Diversity, Absence Management, Handling Complaints and Performance Management training courses have passed the CPD Standards Office assessment and are now formally CPD accredited. This means that Nelson Training is now an official Registered Provider with the CPD Standards Office and has received a dedicated kite-mark for its specific use.

Going forward, any delegate who attends these courses may be issued with a CPD Certificate of Attendance, which they can use within their formal CPD record for a professional body, institute or employer.

By providing independent accreditation, the CPD Standards Office strives to improve the quality of continuing professional development (CPD) to ensure positive and successful CPD experiences.

They help CPD accredited providers ensure that they are delivering consistently high quality training that is inclusive and collaborative. Their marks of excellence for training and learning providers demonstrate to individual professionals that the learning activity conforms to CPD best practice and is appropriate for inclusion in a formal CPD record.

The CPD Standards Office forms part of the Professional Development Consortium. The Consortium works to build bridges between stakeholders to increase the benefits of CPD to individuals and employers. In particular, they encourage the spread of best practice and the sharing of support. Nelson Training is proud to have been named a CPD accredited training provider. For more information about the CPD Standards Office go to their website.

Nelson Training endeavours to offer highly interactive training to the highest standards. Our drama based training approach engages all delegates. Professional accreditation offers commissioners of training programs an assurance of total and consistent quality.

Can larger group training be effective?

Image showing a large group training session
Larger group sizes are becoming more common in business training

Training larger groups at a time can be great value for money at a time when many organisations are looking for a truly cost effective way of delivering important training messages. However, many would say that whilst training larger groups might be more cost effective they cannot compete with smaller group training for learning retention and subsequent buy in.

We have had considerable success over many years in using our drama based approach when customers have needed to get a message across to large numbers of staff. For example, some years ago Stoke on Trent City Council required that all staff undergo basic Equality & Diversity training such that they were aware of the implications of the Equality Act and the Public Sector Equality Duty. As they had around 9,000 employees, it would have been totally uneconomic to train this in small groups. We therefore trained the entire staff in cohorts of around 100 – 150 per 3 hour session. in cabaret style layout, in a theatre type setting using a mixture of interactive drama and activity based learning. Feedback was excellent and there was a high degree of participation from all concerned.

Lancashire County Council adopted a slightly different approach in that they have a number of small group sessions running in parallel in morning sessions, the whole group comes together for an interactive drama based session from ourselves in the afternoon. We have successfully run larger group sessions with typical group sizes of 40 – 50 for a number of organisations such as Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue and Swale Borough Council and all of these have proved effective. Typically, where people skills training is required, larger group training using drama has been shown to high levels of learning retention. This is particularly true of subjects such as customer service, corporate behaviours and values or equality and diversity.

So, what are the benefits to be gained from larger group training apart from the obvious economic arguments with respect to the training budget! From our experience in using drama based methods we have come up with the following reasons as to why there are learning benefits to this approach.

  • Training sessions using drama are entertaining. And with larger groups they are no less entertaining than smaller ones! Consider this…Is a theatre production less enjoyable because every seat is full?
  • Sometimes, they are more effective precisely because the group is so large. Your entire team or organisation are sharing the same experience together reinforcing the same skill set, culture, ethos, message, or values.
  • Quite complex information can be simplified and explained using a drama-based approach. For example, the highly acclaimed musical Enron enthralled and educated us on the ethics and details of financial mis-management…and how many were in the audience? About 1800!
  • Despite large groups, interactive drama gets everyone engaged. The delegates/audience are asked to think about what is being presented to them and then engage with the actors. For delegates who have not experienced a drama-based approach there is always a ‘wow’ factor and immediate attention!
  • A drama based approach is often fun and funny. Comedy gets people on-side, relaxed, and ready to learn and recall later. And again, a session is no less funny, because the group is large!
  • Larger group training doesn’t mean that the session is not reaching out to all learning styles. If the layout is cabaret style and lends itself to group discussions and activities, practical exercises can be dove-tailed between the drama to reinforce the learning points and generate ideas.
  • Drama can be used to demonstrate skills and tap into people’s emotions making it an idea vehicle for controversial culture change. The flexibility of a drama-based approach means that the audience can have an input into the scenes and this is again, no less effective with a large group.

Return on investment for soft skills training

Can we calculate return on investment for soft skills training?

image showing a hand full of money and holding a green plant to demonstrate the value of return on investment for soft skills training

Evaluation of soft-skills training rarely goes beyond collecting a happy sheet at the end of the training session. Only a few HR personnel and learning and development professionals venture as far as attempting to calculate the return on investment of a soft skills training programme. Having discussed this with a number of HR professionals, the reasons for not doing this largely boil down to two reasons

  • They believe that it’s difficult or impossible to isolate in financial terms whether an improvement has occurred as a direct result of the training or whether too many other factors are involved to make such calculations worthwhile.
  • They think the maths is too hard!

In these economic times, however, we are often asked to justify why a training programme should take place and whether there will be a tangible outcome. In this post I would contend that most of the metrics required to do this are readily available in most organisations and that at least making some attempt to use them may give some valuable information if we really want to know whether a training programme has been worthwhile. The necessary maths to do this requires no more than simple arithmetic!

So here are a couple of examples to set people thinking about how they might apply return on investment ideas to planning and evaluating their own training programmes. No doubt you can think of many more.

How to calculate Return on Investment

The formulae

There are more complex formulae for calculating ROI but generally the following simple equations will suffice

 Benefit cost ratio

Total Benefit /Total  cost

 Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI =100 * (total benefits – total cost) / total cost

Payback period

Payback time (e.g. days) = total cost/ saving per time interval (e.g. days)

Worked example: Absence management

Attendance falls by 3 days per employee per annum from 15 days per employee following absence management training and remains at that level for 2 years. There are 300 employees average salary £26,000 pa.

Ignoring overhead:

Total cost of training £60,000 (trainer costs per day, materials etc * number of session days)

Average number of working days per employee per year (after weekends,  holidays and public holidays and absence before training) = 220

Average annual salary per employee = £26,000

Total employee cost per day = £26,000 * 300 / 220 = £35,454.54 (£118.18per employee)

Following training

Total employee cost per day = 26,000 * 300 / 223 = £34.977.57 (£116.59 per employee)

Total saved per day = £476.97

Total saved over 446 days = £212,728.62

Benefit cost ratio

Total Benefit /Total  cost = 212,728.62 / 60,000 = 3.55

Return on Investment

ROI =100 * (total benefits – total cost) / total cost = 100 * (212,728.62 – 60,000)/ 60,000 = 255%

But savings continue after ROI period

So payback period is often used

Cost was £60,000 and saving per day is £477 so payback time is 60,000 / 477 = 126 days

However, other factors might be involved that reduce absence levels

  • Economic climate
  • Winter climate
  • Employee demography changes
  • Changes in work practices (e.g. Health & Safety)

We may need to assign a probability factor to each of these. These are assumptions that we must attempt to justify. Generally we can estimate these from fluctuations in figures following the training. If the training is responsible we might expect change to remain relatively constant whereas we can factor in seasonal differences by comparing with previous figures. Likewise, will health and safety changes have coincided with the training period?

Probability is a value between 0 and 1 and the sum of all probabilities is 1

So we might factor a probability of 0.8 to the training being responsible 0.1 to weather effects and 0.1 to insecurity bought about by the economic climate

Total probability = 0.8 training + 0.1 weather + 0.1 insecurity = 1

We can then adjust our figures accordingly

Adjusted saving per day is £477 * 0.8 = £381.60 and the other calculations follow from this.

Worked example 2: Customer service

Following training customer satisfaction levels rise from 90% to 95%, total complaints fall by 20% and escalated complaints fall by 50%.

We need to isolate real figures that could be accounted for by the percentages. How many customers have been retained against the period prior to the training. What is the cost of acquiring a new customer? This gives us the figure for the saving by retaining the extra customers.

What is the time spent in dealing with a complaint on average? This needs to be converted into the cost per employee. This gives us the cost saving in real terms.

What is the cost of handling an escalated complaint? How many complaints were resolved at local level?

Total cost of training = £100,000

Cost per new customer = total cost of sales and marketing / number of customers gained

= £500,000 / 5000 = £500

Value of a customer in terms of acquisition = £500

100 more customers were retained than over the year prior to training = £50,000 saved


Total cost per complaint = £200

In year prior to training there were 1,000 complaints. This fell by 200 complaints in following year so saving £200,000


Total cost per escalated complaint = £3,500

In the year following training there were 10 less escalated complaints so saving £35,000

Total benefits = £285,000

Therefore benefit/ cost ratio = 2.85 and ROI = 185% and payback period assuming 240 working days per employee per annum is 84 days

Bullying and harassment training: using interactive drama

Image showing a nurse manager bullying a member of staff
Image showing a nurse manager bullying a member of staff
A case of bullying?

Bullying and harassment training: the problems

Interactive drama has proved to be an effective means of training to reduce the incidence of bullying and harassment in the workplace. At Nelson Training we were approached by a county fire service as an industrial tribunal had mandated that all staff members receive bullying and harassment training. Fire services are predominantly male organisations and there is a strong banter culture. Many organisations such as the fire, police and armed services have a banter culture and many people working in these organisations are unclear where the border line between banter and harassment starts.

Training people in any aspect of bullying and harassment is difficult. Many people who work in uniformed organisations are unhappy with sitting in a training room for a few hours. They are unlikely to respond favourably to an extended PowerPoint session. In addition, when training a subject such as bullying and harassment, there are additional difficulties in that people do not believe it applies to them personally (even if it does!) and they also resent being ‘sent’.

We have found another problem with bullying and harassment training, from our experience of this training at NHS trusts, in that many managers are unclear as to where the line should be drawn between acceptable strong performance management and bullying behaviour. Many people came into the NHS as members of the medical profession and now find themselves in a supervisory management position having received no training in managing people.

Victims of bullying or harassment also frequently flounder in deciding how to deal with the situation, with the result that many cases end up following a formal route that could have been avoided had they only known how the situation could be resolved informally.

Using interactive drama in bullying and harassment training

Invisible theatre

We have successfully applied interactive drama based training in both the fire service and NHS programmes. We have found that resistance to the training can be overcome through the use of ‘invisible theatre’ at the start of the session. Invisible theatre involves the use of actors as ‘plants’ amongst the delegates. As these were organisation wide training programmes it was easy to achieve this as only a few delegates actually know each other and similarly uniformed personnel do not arouse suspicion. In the case of the fire service we had two delegates dressed as fire fighters having a conversation in which one ‘delegate’ was negative about the whole training programme and brought out every negative opinion that most of the delegates had about the session. This ‘delegate’ was arguing about not staying for the rest of the session. The other ‘delegate’ answered each of the points in turn with the result that they both decide to stay for the session. We used an element of humour in this as this generally helps those attending realise at some point that these are actors.

Using actors to bring out negative views about the training has two valuable uses: firstly, it makes explicit and acknowledges that there is negativity and secondly, as this has now been expressed openly, negative delegates have no other points they can bring out during the session.

In the case of the NHS sessions we used three actors dressed as nurses and we took a more serious approach. One ‘nurse’ expressed that she was really busy and didn’t have time to go on the course as she’d never been bullied or had bullied anyone. A second ‘nurse’ expresses that the course is really important and that everyone needs to go on it. The first ‘nurse’ then asks the second if he could take notes for her if he’s staying, as she could do with using the time more productively. A third ‘nurse’ agrees with the first and asks the second ‘nurse’ if he could take notes for her as well as he’s so keen. They then leave the room, leaving the unfortunate keen ‘delegate’, who expresses reluctance to do this but feels browbeaten to agree. The scene is then disarmed by the facilitator, who informs the delegates that these are actors but they’ve just seen an example of the subject of the day.

Forum theatre

The main training method for both training staff in how to raise a concern about bullying or harassment and for training managers in how to resolve bullying and harassment issues is forum theatre based on scenarios that we have researched prior to starting the training programme. Following discussions with the commissioners of the training, usually the HR or training and development departments, we ask for typical scenarios within the organisation where issues are occurring. These are then turned into interactive sketches. These are carefully checked for authenticity. When dealing with sensitive subjects such as this it is important that no delegate ever says ‘that wouldn’t happen here!’.

The sketch is acted out with delegates observing what takes place. We then bring back each of the characters in turn after the sketch has been observed and delegates have had a chance to think about the advice they would give. We may, for example bring back a manager who has observed bullying or harassing behaviour and advise them what actions they should take. We may bring back the victim to advise what options are open to them. In each case, the character brought back does not necessarily agree with the delegates’ advice and will argue and discuss the issues with the delegates. The facilitator can keep the delegates on track and can guide delegates towards for instance, the organisation’s policies and procedures.

The interactive theatre may stop at this point but often, as would be the case where the delegates have advised that, for example, a manager would have to have a difficult conversation with a member of staff, we would see that conversation enacted. In this example, the manager would make a number of mistakes so that the delegates would have to stop the action and advise where the conversation should go. The scene ends when delegates have guided the conversation to a satisfactory conclusion.


A typical managing bullying and harassment programme outline

Bullying and harassment resources


How to Choose Business Actors

Choosing the best business actors

Nelson Training business actors role play a customer service problem
Nelson Training business actors role play a customer service problem

Why use professional business actors at work?

Professional business actors can often be hired to assist organisations with role playing and fictional scenarios during their training programmes, recruitment days or formal presentations. The main advantage of using trained business actors or professional corporate role-players over company employees is that a professional actor will reproduce realistic reactions during any exercises, allowing you to observe the natural behaviour of your current or potential employee. On top of this, any familiarity between colleagues won’t affect the conduct of those being assessed, as could be the case if they completed an exercise together.

Use specialist business trained actors – save yourself a lot of time

For professional actors to have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your role playing exercise, whether it is for recruitment or training, you’ll need to choose the right people for the job. Specialist business training advisers will often maintain their own repertoire of go-to actors, who have the necessary training and experience of role playing in the business environment to produce realistic scenarios and ensure your outcomes or assessments are completed. It is important to choose a reputable business training company, preferably with extended experience with their actors, and National Training Awards to hand.

While this assistance can be invaluable to business owners, there are certain criteria which you can consider beforehand, to ensure you find the actors or actresses most appropriate to your needs.

Identify the specifics

You’ll first want to identify the gender and approximate age of your actor. It may be worth considering the demographics of your target audience, or any gender- or age-related requirements of your fictional scenarios. Are there accent or ethnicity requirements? What type of roles do you want them to play? On top of this, you may also want to consider the amount of corporate drama experience which your proposed actor or actress has under their belt. Business acting is an entirely different skill set to stage or film acting.

Experienced business role play actors are invaluable

Actors with more experience are able to provide suggestions or recommendations for the ways in which to best fulfil your training or recruitment outcomes. They can assume the role of actor/director, making suggestions for dialogue or fictional scenarios which will best teach your current employees new procedures, or effectively test the suitability of potential members of staff. Will you require this assistance, or do you have prior experience in staging corporate drama? If you could benefit from assistance, then you’ll need to make sure that your professional actor fully understands the procedures and expected outcomes of your role playing.

Script or improvisation?

You may also need to consider whether your actor will read from a script or improvise. During business role playing, a strict script could affect the realism of an exercise, or simply be disregarded as a result of the natural flow of dialogue. As such, you may wish to hire professional actors who are particularly esteemed for their quick thinking and improvisatory skills. The actor hire company or business training advisors will be able to provide extensive information on the backgrounds of their actors, helping you to make the decision.

Make your decision easier with expert help

Whether you’re planning on training your staff for new scenarios or products, or observing potential employees for potential recruitment, you’ll save both time and effort with the assistance of a professional actor. The decision can be difficult, often with many equally suitable actors available for hire. However, with the correct planning and the assistance of a business training company who specialise in corporate drama, you’ll make the right choice. Training companies specialising in the hire of professional actors will be able to match your requirements with the right actors. They will also advise on the scenarios that you are planning to use and help you get the best outcomes for your delegates.

Further articles by Nelson Training on this subject that might be useful if you are considering using business actors, corporate role-players or using drama in training are  Tips For Hiring Business Actors and Uses of drama based training in business training

Training for new council members

Council members debate in the council chamber
A busy council meeting

The elections on 7th May had a major effect outside that of the unexpected result at National level. Because the local elections for District Councils and Parish Councils were held on the same day, the vote at these local elections was much higher than normal. As a result, many local council seats changed hands as the electors who might have normally stayed at home for a local election came out in droves.

279 Councils held elections on 7th May and the Conservatives gained 541 seats, UKIP gained 176, the Greens gained 10 and Residents 2 so many new Council members were elected. Many councils use their own training officers for the mandatory training that the new Councillors need for matters of policy, procedures, standing orders, committee structure etc. However, in order to be a successful council member there are a number of new skills that the new councillor needs to suddenly develop.

For example; public speaking skills may need to be developed. Most councils impose a time limit of no more than 5 minutes in order to make a speech in full council meetings or committees. Many new councillors (and many old ones too!) struggle with being able to make their points succinctly and with relevance in the time available. Many are nervous in the unfamiliar environment and struggle to overcome this. Nelson Training have developed a novel approach to help here by using the skills of a professional actor to help with nerves and developing the voice combined with an expert facilitator who can help councillors structure the points they want to make in the time they have to make it.

Another area that both new and old council members struggle with is chairing and meeting skills. Here, Nelson Training use actors to role play both the meeting chair and the participating councillors. The action is often so realistic that all the councillors present join in the scenario. Full council, committee meetings, scrutiny panels and public meetings are all covered.

Equality and diversity and the legal implications of the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty are another area where our drama based approach has had real success. Being able to portray scenarios of relevance using comedy and drama gets over the impression that some new council members have that ‘it’s all political correctness gone mad’. It’s a light hearted approach to a serious subject that gets the point across on the legal aspects and the effect on council policies. It’s a painless way of illustrating the importance of demonstrating equality impacts rather than viewing it as a tick box exercise.

Most of our workshops are 2-3 hrs. We don’t use PowerPoint bullets and we never bore anyone with long lectures. Everything is interactive, fast paced, and relevant.
As well as the subjects discussed above, we also run training for council members new and old in

  • Overview and Scrutiny and
  • Questioning Skills
  • Handling the media
  • Handling difficult constituents
  • Juggling time for Councillors
  • Running successful surgeries
  • Influencing Skills
  • Running ward forums

Full details can be found on: www.nelsontraining.co.uk/training-for-council-members/


How to Get Better Value Training

better value

You Can Get Better Value Training And Here’s How

Top Ten Tips plus an extra one (!) for getting better value from your suppliers and cutting the costs of training!

1. Remember that you ‘get what you pay for’! Training companies can only stay in business if they charge a realistic cost. Whilst it is easy to spot the outrageous fee, companies with strong track records in the subject area will generally deliver the best results for the money.

2. Bigger delegate numbers per session obviously give you lower unit costs (er ..sorry ..investment …) per delegate.. so if you haven’t got those extra numbers, invite other organisations to send delegates and slice the cost of your training. You might even find that you can cover the cost of the training and generate income!!

3. If you haven’t got any easily accessible likely partners in your network, contact your training provider who could help you market the spare places!

4. If the training is not on your premises always try and negotiate a deal with the venue. Times are hard and most will consider a discount if pushed!

5. Use your training provider to help you with ideas for the RoI…after all.. it’s in their interest!

6. Rather than risk an unknown quality and quantity on your colleagues …ask the training provider to deliver a free taster for you and some key stakeholders if you’re planning a series of training events.

7. Consider organising some bite size (2 hr?) chunks of training that don’t necessarily interfere with the working day too much. The training provider might give you more sessions for the same fee for multiple sessions on the same day.

8. If you are carrying out the same training all the time and it’s reasonably elementary but important stuff (health and safety, key issues about values or customer care, etc) induction information, consider having a film commissioned.. it will be cheaper than you think and you can put it on line or use in training sessions as a DVD… though beware… unless it’s funny or a great deal of thought goes into it… the end result can be dire (zzzzzzz)!

9. E learning and M learning seem to be currently the name of the game…. but… see above… careful thought needs to go into constructing packages that don’t frustrate the learner. Fancy graphic environments and pointless animations do not enhance learning.

10. Prioritise and go for training that you know will give you bottom line results and will truly be an investment! Consider the RoI before planning the training programme?

Extra tip!!! [for extra value …of course)

11. Incorporate into the training a work based project of some type that will not only demonstrate learning but have a demonstrable and tangible benefit to the organisation!


Tips For Hiring Business Actors

actors for hire nelson training

Top Nine Tips for hiring  business actors

 Use these tips to ensure success

1 Identify your gender and (rough) age range for the work

2 Identify the learning outcomes that you want if the business actors are to help you with training. If the actors are for training experienced role players will work better if they can work with you towards these learning goals

3 Be specific about what exactly you want them to do. Scripts aren’t always necessary, in fact they   can often work against you as the spontaneity of improvisation will give you a more realistic result

4 Give the actors as much notice as possible of the details of the work. Timings and location, learning outcomes/aims of the session, and the scenarios that you are after

5 Make sure that the company you hire from is reputable and ask them about the role players that they are proposing to allocate to you. How long have they known these actors? Are they experienced in commercial settings?

6 If you are unsure about exactly how you can use the actors involve the actor hire company  so that they can advise you

7 If you are using actors for the first time in your training it might be a good idea to hire a trained facilitator to demonstrate how you use drama if it’s a training session

8 Involve the actors right from the start. Trained experienced role players may have some better idea on how they can be used in your company

9 If the actor doesn’t comply with your (reasonable) wishes, contact the hire company immediately and discuss a course of action.

Turn Complaints into Sales. Now.

complaining customers

Six Top Tips: Turn Complaints into Sales!


1 Get in first…!

Ask your customers…get regular feedback…Just because customers are not complaining, it doesn’t mean to say that they are happy! Ask your customers what they think….you may be surprised!

2 Apologise immediately.

Make it heartfelt. Apologise sincerely. Even if it’s not your fault, or you think its the customers fault, there’s nothing to lose from saying “I am really sorry about this, let me see what I can do to help you”.

3 Thank them for their feedback

(face to face, in writing, or by telephone ..) and tell them that you take their complaint seriously and will look into it. Give them a deadline by which time you will get back.

4 Get back to them quickly.

Do not leave them ages, and if possible (and it invariably is) get back earlier than you said you will. Don’t let it fester…The quicker you get back the subliminal message is that you really do take the complaint seriously. Leave it for weeks and they will have told their friends and neighbours and colleagues, the ombudsman, Watchdog, and their councillor/MP. The true acid test of an organisation customer care is how it and its staff reacts with customers when things go wrong…!

5 Offer some sort of compensation if you can…

It can go a long way…they will remember it for a long time.

6 Lead from the top

and make sure that staff know that complaints give you valuable feedback which enable you to improve e tour business. Make sure that you have a complaints procedure and that everyone knows about it..


“A complaining customer is still engaged with your business and can become a loyal customer. The challenge is to create a positive culture towards complaints by training staff to embrace complaints, handle them well and then ensure they never reoccur. By doing this we empower our people, delight our customers and drive the growth of the company.”

Ian S Dunning – Customer Service Director, Europe – Johnson Controls FMS   UK