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August 14, 2006
Don't Forget to Train Your Trainers

Some people seem to be born with the qualities to be good trainers. They're:

  • Good communicators
  • Knowledgeable
  • Experienced
  • Good with people
  • Interested in learning
  • Patient
  • Open-minded
  • Creative
  • Well-prepared
  • Flexible
  • Well-organized

But most trainers weren't born with all the necessary qualities and skills. They had to learn them. And your trainers will probably have to learn them, too, in informative, skill-building sessions. Train-the-trainer training should start with understanding how adults learn—because, after all, that's who your trainers are going to be training.

Adults don't like being treated like kids. They don't want to sit there being lectured to like they were in high school. They want to:

  • Know why they are learning (specifically how it benefits them and how it will be useful)
  • Link new skills and information to what they already know and can do
  • Be actively involved in the learning process through participation, discussion, problem solving, etc.
  • Have the opportunity to use multiple senses (the visual being the most important)
  • See a direct relationship between what they are learning and their job
  • Have a chance to practice what they have learned right there during the training session

Effective trainers need to be trained to include these essentials in their training programs in order to capture and hold the attention of their adult learners.

Different people learn in different ways. Some people are more visual and learn best by seeing something done—for example, a demonstration of a technique, diagrams of a process, or a list of steps in a procedure. Other people are more auditory and learn by listening and talking about what they are learning. Still others have a manual learning style.

Why It Matters...
  • Not everybody is born with the qualities and skills of a good trainer-but anybody can learn to be a good trainer.
  • Effective trainers ensure that employees learn the skills and are provided with the safety information they need to avoid accidents.
  • Well-trained trainers help your organization comply with safety and health regulations and protect employees from work place hazards.

They learn best when they have the opportunity to get their hands on something and actually see how it works. To learn, they need to be able to handle the equipment, run the operation, or practice the skill. Furthermore, some people prefer group training sessions, while others like self-paced training modules that they can work on individually and review as often as they need to. Effective trainers try to accommodate all these different styles and preferences when they design training programs. And they make sure to include elements of different styles in group training sessions to meet the needs of all trainees. Some trainers may do this naturally. But most probably need to learn about learning styles and how to accommodate them.

Taking the act on the road. All trainers—even the naturals—have to learn how to prepare and deliver effective training sessions. They need to know how to:

  • Assess training needs effectively to deliver the right training to the right employees at the right time
  • Create appropriate training outlines complete with attention-grabbing openings and closings that summarize all the key points
  • Write measurable, observable, results-oriented training objectives
  • Determine the most efficient training method for the topic (discussion, demonstration, computer-based, etc.)
  • Design engaging training activities, exercises, worksheets, and handouts
  • Select appropriate training materials (CD-ROMs, DVDs and videos, self-paced PowerPoint sessions, etc.)
  • Present training content effectively (accomplished speaking skills, enthusiasm and confidence, good time management, etc.)
  • Manage groups successfully, encouraging interaction, participation, and feedback while discouraging cross talk, distractions, etc.
  • Evaluate results and follow-up to make sure training has been successfully transferred to the job
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