A good trainer is a rare find because many Train the Trainer programs often focus on teaching the mechanics of how to do a certain task, or follow a prescriptive formula for a specific program. That’s not what Train the Trainer programs should be- instead, they should focus on teaching trainers the best ways to TEACH!
Who makes a good trainer candidate? My friend Darrel Tenter and I have been discussing this for a couple of years now, and I’m not sure we will come to a definitive agreement. I am in the “experience doing the job first” camp, and I think he’s in the “be able to teach well” camp.
I believe a good trainer needs at least 8 years of experience doing the work they will be teaching others- mostly because they need to have that kind of experience to support their position, to hold their own convictions when dealing with fuzzy thinking students, and to provide- in the minds of the students- the authority to teach. This is a teaching principle that is at least 2,000 years old. In the Bible, it is recorded that people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching “because, unlike the scribes, he was teaching them as one having authority.” The Greek word translated “authority” refers to his ability and strength of teaching- something that is best gained by experience.
The second requirement of a good trainer candidate is their maturity level. It is extremely difficult for immature people to be taken seriously as any kind of authority figure. They lack the chops that earn the respect of the students and learning transfer will suffer.
The third quality I want to see in a good trainer candidate is the ability to teach. But isn’t that why they attend Train the Trainer courses? Perhaps ability isn’t the right word- perhaps it is more a combination of empathy, humility, compassion, communication skills, and attitude. If the trainer candidate has those qualities, they will do well in a proper Train the Trainer course where they will learn the skills required to become a good trainer.
Once a trainer candidate enters my Train the Trainer workshop, I have a singular goal: help them transform into a good trainer, the best instructor they can be.
A good trainer is someone who knows how to do a job, but isn’t paid for that- they are paid for imparting that knowledge and wisdom into others, creating a productive worker. In order to do that, they really need to know the kind of work they are training people to do. A good trainer also works from a planned course of instruction that teaches all the operations of the trade or craft in a way that allows the student to get it as quickly and easily as possible. This is the cornerstone of effective instruction.
Finally, a good trainer knows and understands the principles and methods of the training profession and how to apply them effectively. But they don’t just know the mechanics of teaching- they understand the psychological theory and evidence that underpins the instructional methods they practice.
My goal is to train the trainers who will become practitioners, not theorists, who will generate enthusiastic, productive people doing meaningful work.