The purpose of this train the trainer site
The intention of this website is to present uncomplicated resources and
guidelines to trainers and consultants who are designing and delivering workplace inductions and
We believe that workplace training need not be a complicated
process. Of course, it is human nature to complicate matters
into an unholy and incomprehensible mess. A symptom of this
over complication of what should remain straightforward is when
students have to attend specialised training in order to understand
the terms used in the training.
The good the bad and the ugly in workplace training
When we say that the training needs to remain uncomplicated, we do
not infer that it is acceptable for it to be incomplete and lacking.
Effective train the trainer guidelines must:
- Be free of jargon, acronyms and ambiguous confusing
terminology. If your students have to undergo instruction
in order to understand the terminology you use in your
course--you have clearly lost the plot. Avoid clichés,
obscure acronyms, and politically correct terminology. Be
honest with your learners and treat them as intelligent adults.
- Offer clear and unequivocal guidelines about all the
logical aspects of training-- from the beginning, the middle
and the end of the learning session.
- Provide the trainer clear and measurable techniques
and strategies on how to assess the trainees and how to conduct
- Be stable and reliable. The constant dismantling and
reinventing of training guidelines is not a sign of
"continuous improvement", rather it is a sign of confusion, poor
research and lack of competence on the part of the designers.
- Must be complete right from the outset. A clear sign
of an incomplete and poorly researched training
programs is when the designers of the training are constantly
piling up new (after thought) material on top of the released
curriculum. This unhealthy "piling up" creates a mayhem of
confusion, further weakening the already unstable learning
Labelling the after thoughts new impressive names
will not mask the real reason behind the "rewrite".
Launching a poorly researched and incomplete training
- Causes unnecessary waste of vast resources and time.
- Creates an atmosphere of confusion and frustration with
trainers and their students
- Creates an atmosphere of mistrust and lack of confidence
in the training programs and their creators.
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Are you starting a new
train the trainer program for your
industry or organization?
When starting a new instructor
training program for any industry or organization, remember the
following important guidelines:
- Typically the closer you get to the top of the organization,
the less likely you are to find people who are actually aware of
and knowledgeable about the practical aspects and needs of the
organization or industry. Administrators, executives and
"industry experts" seldom deal with every day challenges in the
workplace. With a few exceptions, executives and "industry
leaders " are totally focused on the profitability of their
business, leaving the daily running to their subordinates and
Be mindful that being focused on profit-making may also cause
"industry leaders" to "overlook" certain aspects in the
workplace--aspects that are important to the workers, but not so
with the executives.
With this in mind, when planning the curriculum for your
train the trainer program, be sure to first interview the staff who
actually perform the tasks that will be covered in the
curriculum. This is where you are likely to obtain ideas
for all your "must know" information--the critical skills that
all your learners must be able to perform. Make sure to
interview every person directly involved in that particular
task. If it is not possible for you to interview everyone,
arrange for a questionnaire or for a "suggestion box". If possible, arrange for a "reward" or a "prize" for those who
provide the most valuable input.
Once you have interviewed the people who are directly involved
in performing the task, interview other people who are
indirectly involved in the task. For example, interviewing
the cleaning staff of an engineering firm involved in welding,
will provide you with extensive information about the waste, and
also the hazards that are often inadvertently created by poorly
The next step is to interview the supervisors. Be aware
that supervisors are more likely to be guarded about their
contributions, indeed the higher you move through the chain of
command the more fluff you are likely to gather.
The next step is to expand your research into the particular
task you will be teaching and move to other organizations local,
national and international. You will find that
trainers (especially professional trainers) are likely to be
sympathetic and helpful. Provided you are honest with them
and provided you are willing to share your information with
them, they will help you. Of course there is a limit to
the amount of information that can be shared for both commercial
and legal reasons, so do not ask questions that you know are
going to result in a firm refusal. Networking with
other trainers in your industry across the world is now easy.
Establish a Twitter account and follow training leaders, read
their blogs and make yourself known to them.
Provided you do not threaten their market, and provided you have
something to offer in return, you will create a healthy network
AND FINALLY consult with the "industry experts". This is
where you are likely to gather the maximum amount of fluff.
However, for obvious reasons, unless you address the needs of
the "industry experts and leaders" all your efforts will be in
vain. The executives of the organization will be funding
the training and unless the training includes their requirements
it will not see the light of day.
"Industry leaders and experts" are interested in making profit.
If you can demonstrate to them that a better trained workforce
will produce more, and earn more money for them, as well as
preventing "down time" and costly accidents, they will
support your train the trainer course.
Once you have gathered all the must know, could know and should
know information you need about the task or series of tasks that
you must include in your instructor training program, you are
ready to begin writing your train the trainer course.
Have you been asked to "fix" a train the trainer
program in your organization or industry?
- Before taking on the job of "repairing" a poorly structured
training program for your client or for your industry or
organization, you must ask yourself these questions. "Am I
willing to do what it takes?" "Am I willing to create
enemies?". "Am I capable of making unpleasant decisions?"
From personal experience, when an industry leader hires a consultant
or hires new staff to "repair" any aspect of their organization,
they usually do so because they are under duress. Business
managers dislike allocating money to "unproductive" tasks.
Until recently even occupational safety issues were seen as being
"unproductive". Due to governments legislation, prosecutions
and insurance requirements, the concept of occupational safety has
now become the "norm" in developed countries.
So, whether you are a consultant quoting for a tender, or a trainer
/ assessor / auditor applying for a "fix it" job, make sure
you have the emotional stamina and the courage to deal with the
likely outcomes of your engagement. Correcting the
errors of other people requires a strong personality and a firm
commitment to a satisfactory outcome. So if you cry easily and
have the personality of Mary Poppins, I strongly suggest you do not
apply for such jobs.
Once you are 100% clear about what is required, and you have your
terms of reference in writing (we will discuss about this in a later
chapter) you will be performing a similar fact finding exercise as
described above. However, in this instance you will be asking
only two questions.
- What works
- What does not work
Even in the worst possible training system, you are likely to
find components that are actually workable and efficient and
logical. The "floor" staff of your industry are the only real
"experts" at this point. They know "what works" because
they are directly affected by the results of the training.
A word of caution here. Unless you structure your fact finding
carefully, and unless you confine the questions to "What works"
first and then "What does not work", you are likely to waste vast
resources and time during this process. This is because
many employees will leap at the opportunity to lament and complain
about their working conditions, supervisors, trainers etc.
So make it perfectly clear that you are there to gather information
about the training they have received and to outline what works and
what does not work.
The next step is a rather harsh one, but it is one that must take
place. Behind faulty training programs, there you find less
than competent or lazy trainers, developers and designers.
These people must be identified and removed from the training
environment Modern employment strategies allow for staff
to be retrained or relocated to different and more suitable
If this step is not an option because of legal or workplace
regulation pressures, then it is best for the entire training
department to be shut down and for the training to be conducted by
an outside contractor.
Attempting to remedy a training system (indeed any faulty aspect of
an industry) without the removal of undesirables and the hiring of
competent and enthusiastic staff will result in failure.
During your gathering of evidence about what works and what does not
work, you will discover many enthusiastic, competent staff members
who have been overlooked for promotion. During your effort to
build the training team, make the promotion and retraining of
enthusiastic and competent existing staff a priority.
What is to come in the next train the trainer chapter
In the next chapter we will deal with PREPARATION. The
topic of PREPARATION in a training program can be compared to the
laying of the foundations of a building. If the foundations
are weak and unstable, even the finest building will collapse in a
heap at the least challenge.
Copyrights A. Wilon - 2013. No part of this website may be
reproduced without my written permission.
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