Ever-changing business needs, evolving software and new recruits, all point to a need for great in-house trainers for your team. You’re probably already aware of this. But have you, like most companies, simply turned to your existing subject matter experts and senior personnel and expected them to step up to the task? Or have you yourself been tasked with training other people simply because of your knowledge, with no formal training on how to pass on that knowledge effectively?
No matter how knowledgeable or confident your trainers are, they may not actually be as skilled at delivering new information (in a way that sticks) as you may think…
What Is the ‘Train the Trainer’ Model?
It can be tempting to rely on ‘people skills’ or ‘confidence’ alongside a great knowledge-base to carry staff through into a training career. At most, a lot of companies will send staff on an 8-hour training course and call it a done deal.
Utilising a ‘Train the Trainer’ model means embracing a different mindset- it’s also a highly strategic choice.
For most new starters in a business, their trainer is their first point of contact outside of their interview. They spend the first one or two weeks with this person and their understanding of the role, and the company as a whole is hugely shaped by that experience.
Luke Todd, Co-Founder and CEO of MadeYou explains:
”Trainers are often a first point of contact- they set an example and a precedent of the culture, the values and the engagement of that business. The training itself is obviously really important too as it sets new recruits up for a confident start.Luke ToddMadeYou Co-Founder
Training isn’t a case of simply imparting knowledge- it’s delivering that knowledge in a way that is memorable and representative of your company. So, to be a great trainer, you need to be an expert on your subject and an expert in how to pass that knowledge on.
Without training your trainers, you risk under-developing your talent, starting new recruits on the backfoot and wasting time and resources with ineffective presentations.
Why Is It Important to Train the Trainer and What Are the Benefits?
Concentrating on the development of your trainers is a win-win situation. Not only does it mean that your trainers will be confident, motivated and skilful, it also means that they can pass those traits on to your new recruits and to anyone learning new skills within your organisation.
It’s a scalable solution. If you’re looking to train hundreds of members of staff on a new piece of software, you can’t rely on just one or two senior members of the team to learn how to use it and pass it on- it would take them months to train everybody and it would probably be largely ineffective.
With train-the-trainer, your fully skilled trainers can teach other team members the ABCs of training so you can scale up your approach and keep down the costs of sending people out to external training providers every time your software is updated.
Some other benefits of investing in fantastic internal trainers include:
- Providing a route for professional development.
- Providing your teams with bespoke training designed with your company’s culture, structure, products, services and customer needs in mind.
- It’s cost-effective.
- Retraining large groups are faster, more consistent and less draining on resources.
- Your trainers will be on-hand to your employees long after the training session has been delivered, ready to answer any and all questions as they arise.
- Internal staff are often better placed to deliver training (especially where restructuring or similar uncomfortable changes are being made) as they are more readily trusted and respected than external trainers.
- The more your trainers teach, the deeper their understanding of their subject matter grows.
Characteristics of a Good Trainer
So, now you understand the importance of investing in your trainers, let’s make sure you’re scouting the right people in the first place.
Your shortlist will probably include knowledgeable employees who have been in their role or using the software that you’re looking to train others on for a long time—a great start.
Other traits to look for include:
- Solid communication skills in all situations
- Well-rounded knowledge of the company as a whole and how their imparted expertise will fit into the structure of the business
- A passion for teaching and encouraging others
- An approachable and positive attitude
- Patience and inherent kindness
- Readily respected by others for their knowledge, skills and personality
- Open to constructive criticism and happy to reflect on their own work
- Flexibility in the face of changing company needs
- Physical capacity for the needs of your training program.
With all the knowledge, good intentions and willingness in the world, without solid presentation skills, your carefully chosen trainer may well fall flat.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to see your recruit present to a group, you’re probably going to look for someone who speaks clearly, knows their way around PowerPoint and who oozes confidence. It’s a fair place to start, but that’s certainly not all there is to it. In fact, many natural people-pleasers who appear fully confident in speaking to others will crumble on stage. Equally, some supposed introverts can be fantastic public speakers with some nerve-busting encouragement.
There is more skill to presenting than simply reading through some slides and delivering information. The slides should only ever be an accompaniment to the speaker’s compelling, informative and (most importantly) memorable presentation.
Where to Begin?
If you need to start building your own team of trainers, it can be hard to know where to begin. You know they need to be fully prepared for the good of the business, but how do you go about investing in them and making sure they start on the right foot?
”This is one of the programmes I am most passionate about because we see the same mistake made over and over again across multiple industries; people being placed into trainer roles because of their knowledge and natural flair with people, but not given any courses on how to optimise content or how to deliver training. Out of all the roles within a business, ‘trainer’ is ironically often the most overlooked in terms of training.Luke ToddMadeYou Co-Founder
This programme is great for anyone who is tasked with training other members of their own organisation; from those changing job title to ‘trainer’ to those who are expected to take on the responsibility of training others as part of their other duties. It is tailored for the individual but can also be run in group sessions if a team of trainers will be teaching the same content within a business.