Article by Dr. Pratik P. SURANA (Ph.D.)
Chief Mentor and Founder,
We’re sure that one time or another, you’ve been fascinated at how a trainer facilitates class and engages learners. You’ve also most likely observed some of the best qualities of a good trainer and already somewhat have an idea of what attributes make a trainer great at their work. Most probably, you’ve also thought of becoming a trainer yourself at a certain point in your career.
Nevertheless, if you want to find out what really makes a trainer successful, or if you’re looking into switching careers and make training a career option, then this post is definitely for you!
But before we start, we need to debunk a certain misconception about trainers. And to do that, let’s take a quick look at what a trainer is not.
A trainer’s main responsibility is to facilitate classes. Since this is a task that most of us see a trainer usually do, oftentimes, the trainer role gets downplayed to being just a mere facilitator. This brings about a certain misconception of what successful corporate trainer skills are perceived to be – limited to just communication, product knowledge, and entertainment value.
Yes, you’ve read that right – entertainment value. Trainers can be regarded as simply “entertrainers,” so to speak. “Entertrainers” are subject matter experts who conduct classes and make sure that the topic is tackled with enough interest and enthusiasm so that the learners don’t get lulled to sleep.
Although communication and facilitation skills are both important skills of a trainer, they’re not the end-all and be-all of corporate training skills. This shallow understanding of what good trainer skills are supposed to be, definitely has to go.
What is needed, instead, is a deeper understanding of a trainer’s other tasks and the required competencies that go with them.
In 1946, Edgar Dale published his “Cone of Experience” describing how adults learn which is still relevant today:
Adults generally remember:
10% of what they read;
20% of what they hear;
30% of what they see;
50% of what they SEE and hear;
70% of what they SAY and write;
90% of what they SAY and do.
Being aware of the percentage of information adults remember has significance in the perceptions we have of ourselves as professionals imparting our parenting wisdom to other adults. Recognizing the title we use in our professional role is often insightful to the philosophy and style of our delivery.
The first step in Corporate training design is to identify the problems which need to be addressed. This may be done for the entire organization, for a particular location or for a particular job. Alternatively, the analysis of training needs may have a specific focus, for example, compliance with Corporate legislation or the performance of the joint Corporate committee. However, not all problems can be solved by training; in some cases, other action is needed to supplement it. A simple example of this is the case where the problem identified is a low level of compliance with the rule obliging workers to wear personal protective equipment. While part of the problem may be due to the fact that employees do not understand why the equipment is needed or how to use it correctly, it is equally possible that some or all of the problem may be caused by the fact that there is consistent failure to replace broken or missing skill.
Further the skills are summed up here:
· Know their subject matter.
· Take the time to get to know their audience.
· Are nonjudgmental
· They respect differences of opinion and life choices.
· Are culturally sensitive.
· Are lively, enthusiastic and original.
· Use a variety of vocal qualities
· Use “body language” effectively.
· Illustrate their points.
Even the most experienced trainers can improve their training skills. Effective trainers seek out opportunities to learn new skills and use negative feedback as an opportunity to improve.
Trainers are Project Managers
Once the instructional design and all its intricacies have been accomplished, the time has come to implement the training. Doing so requires a bit of project management, because the trainer, most of the time, not only has to teach the course but also has to plan the program’s implementation and organize the required resources.
Being able to manage projects is also one of the outstanding qualities of a good trainer. This then points back to key point ,Involving key stakeholders and getting everyone’s support for the initiative demands dependable strategic partnering skills.
Trainers are Facilitators of Change and Learning
As mentioned above, a trainer’s main duty is to facilitate classes; but contrary to common belief, this just takes advantage of about twenty percent of a trainer’s skillset.
While it is always a given that classroom facilitation is, in itself, part of the qualities of a good trainer, what’s more important though is that a trainer is expected to be a facilitator of change – or even better, an advocate of change.
With today’s adaptive global workforce and dynamic business environment, changes are constant. Processes and knowledge that were the standards a few days ago can become obsolete and defunct in the blink of an eye. What is considered as the guiding principles and industry standards today, might be different tomorrow.
A trainer is always expected to be at the forefront of change. New processes and recent knowledge would always demand some type of learning intervention. Moreover, with constant changes, competency and performance gaps are always bound to ensue; and the trainer, in turn, can evaluate and recommend viable and sustainable solutions.
Trainers are Evaluators
This is probably one of the most overlooked qualities of a good trainer. The skills required for trainers regarding evaluations include, but are not limited to: conducting surveys, creating effective tests, and assess through observable behavioral changes.
Moreover, checking performance trends and computing for a learning program’s ROI (return on investment) are also parts of the evaluator skillset.
No matter how successful training is in meeting objectives, its effect will decline with time if reinforcement is not provided in the workplace on a regular and consistent basis. Such reinforcement should be the routine responsibility of supervisors, managers and joint CorporateTraining Department. It can be provided through regular monitoring of performance on the job, recognition of proper performance and routine reminders through the use of short meetings, notices and poster.