It is often thought that if someone is knowledgeable in a certain area, or if they are highly skilled with many years of experience, then they can easily pass on their knowledge to others by training them.
This is often what happens in the business world, with on-the-job training or other forms of work-based training. However, this approach is often unsuccessful. The person delivering the training may not be a skilled trainer and is not aware of the skills required to deliver a fully inclusive and assessment-based training session. For these reasons, 'Train the Trainer' courses are becoming increasingly popular in business.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
If the trainer has not been provided with the support required to deliver an effective session, they cannot be blamed for an unsuccessful course. Trainers must be equipped with the right skills to deliver a well-managed training session. It is often assumed that anyone can deliver a training session to their colleagues and this is often a mistake which can lead to human error and confusion. Also, there is an ancient Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Training the trainer is like teaching a man to fish. Train one trainer and they have the ability to impart their knowledge on to many within their own organisation. There is certainly a benefit to leveraging the investment in training in this way, but what about the hidden benefits?
What makes a successful Trainer?
To deliver an effective training course or session the training needs to be delivered by a training practitioner who has the skills to deliver effective training. A skilled professional trainer is able to plan for a session effectively, as well as manage the session. The trainer must provide an inclusive training environment so all learners thrive, irrespective of ability. Legislation has a major impact on training, i.e. Health and Safety Act, Equality Act; and a trainer must know how to manage a training session in line with legislative requirements. Further considerations would be new methodologies, new discoveries about the way adults learn, and changing expectations from trainees—and from your company.
A skillful Trainer should assess delegates at regular intervals to ensure they are developing during a session.
Ground Rules needs to be agreed at the start of a training session to ensure everyone attending the session knows what is expected of them. A skillful Trainer should assess delegates at regular intervals to ensure they are developing during a session. At the end of the session the trainer should also gather feedback to evaluate effectiveness and identify improvements. These improvements are key to ensure the training style and method is developed on a regular basis.
Reflecting upon these requirements, it is clear that a training session must be carefully managed and should not be delivered without the skills required to do so.
So let’s take a look at three vital reasons to train the trainer:
The first one has to be the ability to deconstruct the subject to be trained into its component parts – affective, behavioural or cognitive and then to devise the best way to deliver these in line with the learning preferences of the participants. It is so vital to be able to understand and create the right objectives which focus on outcomes rather than on topics, and allow the most effective, modern and suitable methodologies to be deployed to achieve those outcomes.
The second one has to be the ability to ‘calibrate’ (to take external factors into account or to allow comparison with other data) the training’s impact in terms of pace, the content, the effectiveness of the learning, the impact of the learning climate, and the ability of participants’ to take in the information.
The third is the ability to validate and evaluate the training. So firstly the difference between the two – validation is the process that certifies that the training the employees are receiving meets expected standards; while evaluation is the process that examines the effectiveness of your training programs. Validation can only be carried out well when the first step is really well done – properly set objectives and the ability to calibrate all the way through, and keep records. Evaluation is more focused on the transfer of learning to the workplace and therefore adding the most value to the business.
Training is an investment and companies are quite rightly concerned about the payback. There are hidden benefits which may show up in unexpected ways. The benefits of training the trainer can be:
- Build self-confidence of the trainer by allowing them to take on a new or expanded role.
- Put the training into the context of the organisation and improve the relevancy.
- Ensure trainers understand and utilise interactive/experiential delivery techniques properly.
- Help employees feel more comfortable in sharing.
Consider these hidden benefits when you make plans for the training your organisation needs and be prepared to “catch” the profits!