So what makes a good trainer, then? The skills and knowledge of trainers vary, it must be said, but there are particular qualities which every good trainer must and does hold.
The key attributes to look for include a strong knowledge base. It’s essential that the trainer has an in-depth understanding of the topic in which they’re going to train others. This extends to having a good working knowledge of company culture and strategic direction.
Companies are constantly evolving in this day and age, and in-house trainers need to keep up-to-speed with developments to ensure training programmes are meeting the needs of the host organisation per se as well as supporting the personal development of individual employees.
External trainers should take the time to learn about the company for whom they have been tasked with training delivery. It’s vitally important to understand the culture of the company and ensure the training courses devised are in line with supporting that company when it comes to achieving corporate aims.
Practical experience: a most useful commodity
Also extremely important is credibility. Practical experience of the topic is always a useful quality for any trainer to harbour. Not only does this provide credibility, but also means the trainer is more likely to be able to answer learners’ questions about how to tackle challenges they might face when they come to apply their new knowledge on returning to work.
An ability to deliver information in an understandable way can never be underestimated in terms of its importance. It’s simply not enough to know the topic well: the trainer must also know how to share knowledge with others in a way they understand.
It’s important the trainer recognises when learners are really getting to grips with the material – and those instances when they’re struggling – so that the pace and scope of training might be adjusted accordingly.
The trainer must understand what the learner wants from the experience as learners need to be able to take new skills back to the workplace. After all, that is one major objective of any employment-related instruction.
Engagement and communication
The requirement for trainers to be engaging and good communicators is key. A good trainer is able to engage learners in the material and encourage them to interact with the sessions.
Put simply, trainers need to fire the imagination, motivate and enthuse, and sustain the learners’ interest throughout learning sessions. This is the essential difference between training and presenting.
Flexibility and the ability to adapt the style of delivery to suit different groups, personalities and environments is another skill worth having in the armoury.
Trainers also need to be adept problem solvers. Training can be especially challenging if learners are negative and/or disruptive. Sometimes, learners are sent on a course by their boss without knowing why they are there. A good trainer will work to tackle this disinterest with minimal impact on the learning experience of others.
Other learners may become combative or competitive. Again, the trainer needs to understand how to diffuse these situations.
‘Authoritative but approachable’ is perhaps one way of describing the necessary ‘make-up’ of a trainer. Setting and enforcing ground rules for training (for example outlawing the use of mobile phones in course sessions) ensures minimal disruption.
Requirement for good planning
Good planning is crucial: this includes the ability to draft content and present material in a coherent structure as well as ensuring that adequate support is available in education sessions.
Trainers need to be realistic about class sizes and ensure sufficient training staff are available to help run practical sessions (such as role play scenarios).
Sufficient time is needed to ensure learners fully understand the material by the end of the session – there is no point trying to train people in a complex topic in half an hour. It will not work!
Trainers also need to be reliable and punctual, as well as being responsive to feedback. Everyone should be on the road of ongoing personal and professional development, and trainers are no exception to that rule.
Being open to feedback helps to develop trainers’ own training techniques.
Strong review and evaluation techniques must come to the fore. Trainers need to devise appropriate competence definitions, write effective learning objectives, draft and grade assessments and provide effective feedback.
Why do trainers need training?
As already mentioned, everyone should be seeking to continually improve their skills, trainers included.
Trainers have a lot of balls to juggle and striking the balance can be challenging: this is where training the trainer can become very useful.
Training can support trainers in a number of ways, including:
- helping to ensure they are up-to-speed with the most recent information about the topic in which they train others
- providing the opportunity to practice dealing with complex training scenarios with the view to helping trainers problem solve and devise tactics for dealing with challenging learners
- how to structure training for maximum interest and effect
- how to engage more effectively with learners (ie how to engage everybody all of the time)
- recognising and adapting to different types of personality
- improving listening and communication skills
- learning how to support learners such that they can transfer their skills to the workplace
- increase confidence
- how to draft appropriate learning objectives and develop effective assessments to test learners’ knowledge at the end of the training
- interpreting different types of feedback (including body language)
After all that, what’s the bottom line?
Trainers need to communicate subject knowledge clearly, concisely, enthusiastically and in a way that satisfies the needs of others.
Good trainers hone their training skills over time, and should not be afraid to attend training courses themselves.
If companies use in-house trainers they should consider their trainers’ training needs. Not only will this ensure trainers have the adequate opportunities for personal development, but ultimately it will also ensure other employees have access to better training.
That can only be of benefit to the host organisation.
Ken Livingstone (managing director) and Amy Burrell (training consultant) are with Perpetuity Training Further information about… Perpetuity Training
Perpetuity Training offers a range of short courses, including Level 4 professional awards in Managing Security Surveys and Security Management.
All of the company’s short courses can be adapted to meet the needs of individual businesses. Bespoke training services are also available.
Perpetuity Training is proud to be associated with The Security Institute and to be the provider of the Institute’s two membership qualifications: the Certificate in Security Management (Level 3 Advanced Certificate) and the Diploma in Security Management (Level 5 Professional Diploma).
For more details telephone 0116-222 5550 or e-mail: email@example.com