Speak to virtually any employer and he or she will say that people are their company's biggest asset. Training courses can play a central role in moving that success forward, both for the employees and the company. At the Uplands Training Centre it is now quite common to see rows of shoes lined up outside the building as delegates take to the vast grounds for team-building exercises. According to Pam Fletcher, newly-appointed general manager at the High Wycombe centre in Four Ashes Road, outdoor activities are increasingly playing an important role in training. But it is only one aspect of what has become an integral part of most business agendas, whether that training is carried out in-house, at an outside venue, or on a one-to-one basis. Philip Mellor, senior analyst at High Wycombe business information company Dun & Bradstreet sums up some of the reasons why companies invest in training. He said: "Training is an important part of our employees' development which is tackled both by staff attending internal courses in areas such as IT and outside the office. "In the more specialist areas, personnel from different departments will spend time away from the office. This is seen as an essential part of networking and brainstorming without the day-to-day processes and obvious interruptions." Uplands, owned by the Nationwide, is one of 24 management training centres in England run by Initial Style Conferences. The centre, set in 18 acres of land in Four Ashes Road, has 77 double bedrooms and ten training rooms. It recently converted the coachhouse into 12 bedrooms for the course leaders and installed a new gym. "We are 90 per cent full most of the time with a lot of repeat business," said Pam. She has also become aware of changes in the needs of companies. For instance, they are now tending to book for shorter intensive courses at shorter lead times, which often carry on into the evenings. Dale Carnegie Training in Station Road, Marlow, has recently split its training programme into two divisions, one handling sales and the other leadership and management training headed by Andrew Smith. David Alder, who works with Andrew, and has responsibility for training in south Bucks, said Dale Carnegie always holds its courses one evening a week, aware it is often difficult for key staff to get time off during the day. "The bottom line is improvement - ultimately to improve results for the business by making people more effective in their jobs," he said. Personal coaching takes training one step further than the classroom. Mike Duckett is a director of Coaching for Success Ltd providing coaching to private and business clients. He said: "In the sporting world it is accepted that people who are successful have a coach. It's all about performance and what you can do to improve performance and realize your potential." Mike, who has a psychology degree and more than 23 years' experience in sales and marketing at senior management level, incorporated personal coaching into his training company in Plomer Hill, Downley, three years ago. "Coaching is here to stay," he said. "Businesses have been swift to realise that performance depends on more than just knowing how to do something. Issues like motivation and self belief are vital for success. "There are lots of reasons why people do not perform and they are very individual. Most companies recognise someone with potential, otherwise they would not have recruited them in the first place." Personal coaching, he explained, is all about helping people to improve their performance, through, for instance, using time management and creativity in a positive way.