5/17/12

I Think I Want to Be a Trainer - I Need to Know More

First of all you need to know what a trainer does on a daily basis, then what skills you need to have and to develop and last but not least what training of your own you need to become a trainer. All these details should help you decide if the job of a Trainer or HR Specialist in training and employee development is really for you.

The main activities that a trainer does on a daily basis are mentioned below. However, the list is open and depends on the specifics of each company. In some companies, the trainer does only the last activity in the list and that's it. In others, he/she is involved in administrative tasks and budget approving as well.

A trainer:

- discusses with the managers of each department and identifies training needs. By training needs I mean the list of skills that the employees in the specific team need to develop. These can be technical skills or soft skills (communication, leadership, time management, decision making, etc.);

- discusses with the employees themselves face to face or applies questionnaires to identify and confirm training needs again;

- creates the training plan for a given period of time, including all the necessary trainings, number of employees that need to be trained, if the trainer is internal or external, potential costs, timelines;

- asks for approval for potential costs - sometimes this is the job of his manager, but not all the time, so be prepared for explaining as well. All costs need to be reflected in company productivity so be prepared with strong arguments before sending the costs for approval. Asking for managers' support can also be useful;

- creates the training agenda for trainings that he/she will be organizing himself/herself;

- gathers materials for his/her trainings;

- contacts external companies for trainings that need to be organized by an external provider (mostly technical, but not only), prepares the room, communicates training details to participants, gets feedback from participants at the end;

- develops and presents his/her own trainings in front of the participants, communicates details, gets feedback, improves training for next session based on feedback; selects the best training techniques in order to achieve the training goal;

What skills do you need?

First of all, communication and presentation skills. You must have the ability to explain what you know to the trainees so that at the end of the training they have acquired at least half of the presentation content. Depending on the training techniques used, the percentage can be even more. You must speak fluently and openly, keep eye contact with each of the participants, must not be afraid to speak in public. Allow them to give you their opinion as well. Don't make it look like you're a teacher in school.

Then, analytic skills which will allow you to select from the materials you have the best for your training and from the techniques you know the best for your purpose.

Being patient is also important. Not everybody understands information fast and a trainer must be able to make sure that at the end of the training all the participants have understood the message. Repeating over and over again can also be necessary from time to time, so be prepared.

Sensing the dynamics of the group is a must. You must know when to tell the information again, when to stop, when to listen, when to change the training technique because the trainees are bored and no longer follow you. Don't get annoyed by aggressive trainees, have patience with slower ones, encourage everybody to contribute with ideas.

Time management is also crucial. You need how to monitor the discussions in order not to transform a 2-hour training in an entire day of small talk. Encourage the participants to participate but also keep an eye on the clock to make sure you keep the agenda. Some of the participants' time may be limited and wasted. Keep the agenda as promised and if there are trainees who want to talk more to you, ask them to do it at the end of the training.

If you do also administrative tasks, you need to be organized and have some negotiation skills if you want the training budget approved. Training results are not concrete results you can feel, so management will need some strong arguments from your side.


Coming back to our third part of the topic, what trainings do you need to become a trainer?
The main training you need to start with is called "Train the Trainers (TTT)".  There are a lot of companies offering that, so be careful which one you choose. Ask around and go by recommendation if you really want to achieve your goal. Then continue with communication, time management and some psychology courses (to understand groups). Then, try to get as much experience as you get and good luck.


And as bonus: Training FAQs:

1. What do I do if they ask me something I don't know?
This can happen to absolutely every trainer no matter how experienced. Don't panic, don't start searching for ideas and details right away because it will look unprofessional. Just admit you don't know, get the contact details of the participant and promise you will come back to him/her with details. Mention also the timeline you intend to come back with details. Keep your promise. That's it. Move over.

2. If I am the trainer of groups, how many participants can I allow during one session?
Depends on the training type. If it's a training on the PC, as many as the number of PCs in the room. If not, try to limit the number to 8-10. If you have more than that, you will not be able to give enough of your attention to each of them.

3. Can I train just one person?
Yes, but it's much more fun and rewarding with more because experience is shared. You might even learn something from them. Also, they get to know each other and share experience and ideas.

4. How do I start the training?
With an ice breaker. The best one to give you time to breathe is asking them to introduce themselves and say a few words about them. This is also good for the group dynamics because they get to know each other and they will work better throughout the training session/s.

5. How long should a training session be?
If you mean during a day - 1 hour maximum with adults and then break. If you mean during a longer training - depending on how much information you have to communicate. Can be from 2 hours to 3 months daily.

Good luck in achieving your goals.
Regards,
Geo

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