national seminars training review

national-seminars-training-reviewIf you’ve ever had a job longer than five minutes, you know that training is crucial. Thanks for hiring me, now how do I do my job? Different companies have different strategies for training their employees: structured in-house training programs, on-the-job training, outside training with subject matter experts, or all of the above. I recently attended a workshop hosted by National Seminars Training. Managing Human Resources was a two-day session, and it was my first experience with this training company. I was pleasantly surprised and compiled a recap below. Check it out if you’re interested in this resource for training employees or for personal development. I recommend you look into their 2,500 training sessions in 380 U.S. cities here.
Pros
  • Great for newbies. As mentioned, the session I attended was specifically for human resources. If you are new to the HR field, this seminar is a must; it provided a very high-level overview of topics that you’ll most likely encounter within a typical HR department or in a generalist role. For experienced HR professionals, it’s a great refresher course (especially with the recent changes to employment laws). NST provides training seminars on virtually every topic imaginable to an organization in the U.S., so whatever your development needs are, they can probably deliver. Supervisor Training, Microsoft Office, Project Management, Public Speaking, Copywriting, Digital Marketing; seriously, the list goes on and on.
  • Excellent training material. The training material provided was a great resource to take back to the office. It included all the “need to knows” for HR professionals. There were also assessments, test questions, and examples to assist in your learning. I’ve already referenced it a few times in confirming the process for employment laws, such as FMLA and ADA. I have a feeling I’ll be grabbing this 80+ page booklet often. NST produced this material, but contrarily, the speaker created the PowerPoint that was intended to guide the session. I was underwhelmed by the content and design. I don’t think it had been updated since 2000.
  • Small class size. The particular session I attended was a small group of 12. The size of your group will depend on the session topic and location (I was in Greensboro, NC). I think the intimate setting allowed for a better group discussion and more interaction with the presenter. For me, I took away more from this training than the sessions I attended at the SHRM National Conference in D.C. this past June. Those included 500 people, and I spent more time staring at my phone than learning anything.
  • Continuing education credits. I received a sweet certificate to add to my diploma wall that verified my attendance. I also earned 18 continuing education credits for my HR certification.
  • The trainer. This session’s presenter had over 30 years of HR-related experience with companies like AT&T and Sprint. He claimed to have trained over 2,500 HR professionals since 1990 and was also a very entertaining presenter. His style kept me engaged over the course of two days, which is impressive for my attention span. NST does not employ their trainers; each trainer is a consultant to the company, and you don’t know who will lead your session until you show up on the first day. This guy appeared to be very knowledgeable of the subject matter and facilitated group exercises that allowed for discussion of best practices in strategic HR, as well as management and leadership.
Cons
  • The trainer. Okay, so I liked this dude, but he often veered off topic to discuss personal and very controversial subjects. He asked an African-American in the class for her take on the Black Lives Matter movement and also frequently mentioned the upcoming election and his political and religious views. I embrace diversity and appreciate varying perspectives, but disagree with this approach for a training session. I would suggest that NST provide their consultants with guidelines for acceptable and unacceptable discussion topics. I paid for training and not a soap box speech.
  • Session structure. I did enjoy the open discussion among our small group, but the two-day workshop was not structured. The flow was very organic and there did not seem to be much of a schedule for each day. Breaks and lunch were scheduled, but an agenda with times and subjects would have made more efficient use of our time.
  • Location. I’m unclear as to how NST chooses their training locations, but this particular hotel was under renovations, so it was a bit messy and noisy at times (it was also in a sketch part of town). The hotel “store” (more like a closet) wasn’t open either, and I was famished by 10 a.m., – bring snacks! I was expecting a spread of pastries and fruit, but there are no refreshments or lunch provided, so plan accordingly. We had lunch with the presenter on the second day (in the hotel bar) and his table manners were so appalling that I became nauseous during the meal. I got stuck right across from the guy and it was a total salad shower the entire time. He also smoked a cigar afterwards and the odor was potent once class resumed. I’m probably being too critical of the poor man, but that was just my observation. Again, you don’t know who your trainer will be when you sign up for a NST course. You could probably call ahead to ask, but it won’t be disclosed when you register. The location and presenter will most likely make or break the effectiveness of the training. Larger cities probably utilize nicer hotels, and I’m sure the group size varies, as well.
  • Registration. This doesn’t relate to the training itself, but the NST website is very generic and a little outdated, in my opinion. Online registration was not user-friendly, and I had to call to confirm I registered properly. Then I received a dozen emails and a sales call to enroll in the Star 12 program (actually not a bad deal, see below). Their customer service folks were unprofessional, and once I decided to enroll in Star 12, the email communication from the sales rep was the worst I’d ever seen. He basically copy and pasted a link and said, “FYI below.”
In addition to the in-person sessions, NST offers training through live or on-demand webinars. Their Star 12 program allows unlimited access to these online resources, in addition to unlimited in-person sessions for only $499 for an entire year. That’s incredibly inexpensive for your own professional development or training employees. I recommend utilizing the on-demand webinars for lunch-and-learns, although some of them are a bit corny. Overall, National Seminars Training is a minimal investment that I recommend you explore. I would be interested in attending another session with a different presenter/topic to see if it’s the same experience.
Have you attended a seminar or workshop with National Seminars Training? What did you think? I would love to hear your experience with some of the other topics lead by NST.

ash

A former hot mess bringing you no-nonsense career advice. I’ve been hired, fired, demoted, and disrespected; and it was entirely my fault. I’ve made every possible professional mistake and want you to learn from my screw ups, so you can have the career of your freakin’ dreams.

2 Comments

  1. Wow Ash! Thank you so much for the good words. And for taking the time for such a thorough review of your overall experience with NST. There are obviously a lot of behind-the-scenes people here who touch these events … and who will appreciate your suggestions and feedback.

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