It’s that time of year again where we are getting towards yearly appraisals. My role as a learning designer has its issues, but seems to have more of a physical output to which I can refer in these meetings, more than our delivery population. Although they have feedback throughout the year from the sessions that they have run, as part of their yearly appraisal, they must have gone back to the business and taken a call, and passed a quality audit. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently after a discussion that was posted on Linkedin by Stephen M. Here is what he thought were the attributes of an effective trainer…
An effective trainer demonstrates 4 attributes –
- Sufficient hands-on experience in the industry being trained, e.g. at least 5 years practical experience. Trainer should have done it before for quite a while. For instance a trainer for marketing should have at least 5 years actual successful marketing experience. Same applies to leadership, communications etc.
- Extensive knowledge of what is the best practice in the industry at present, hence very good knowledge of what is going on in the industry or discipline, new developments etc.
- Proven ability in high impact training, preferable with certification, Trainer should master the tricks to transform people.
- Self-appreciation, mirror, embodiment. Trainer should reflect what is being trained, when applicable. A trainer boosting your income should be quite wealthy. A trainer dealing with time management should not come late etc. A trainer talking communication cannot be too shy..
If one item is missing then the trainer cannot be effective. Reading about a topic and delivering a course is more like lecturing or reporting, and not training.
So we have there what used to be the path you took to be a trainer. You were good at sales, you moved up your grades. Then comes the crunch – do you become a team leader or, if not, you become a trainer. Tell people what you were doing well and they will be as good as you! Easy. However, my problem with this is that once you are away from the business for any amount of time, your effectiveness in doing that job will decrease. Our example is typical of this. We have delivery trainers who only train sales – they were from that background and this is what they did. Owing to re-structures, sales exited our site so that it has become a claims site – including some technical areas such as Bodily Injury, Credit Hire and Commercial. What happens then to these trainers? They still have to train, but a different area to the one where their ‘expertise’ lay. Part of their licence to operate now consists of taking a phone call (only one mind you) in a department they have never worked in.
In what way does this prove that you are a good trainer? Or indeed, a learning and development professional?
All this proves is that you can take a phone call and ask a few questions.
How can we demonstrate that we have made a contribution and that it has been worthwhile?
We are no doubt going to be re-structuring around a 70:20:10 model, so what can we do to prove that we are adding value?
I think we can do more to get the trainers to a position where they can facilitate learning rather than be an SME. We should be supporting the business and supporting on the job training. I like @JaneBozarth ‘s idea of asking the question ‘What have you learned this week/month etc? How can the learning professional be effective if they do not know how to learn themselves? This should be the target of the trainers, not whether they can answer a call….
So, what should be the attributes of a good learning development professional?
In my experience, certification seems to serve the purpose of benchmarking someone at a specific point in time, and is nice framed, and put on your wall at work. I undertook and passed the CITP about 6 years ago, and I can honestly say I have not revisited any of the material or been asked about this in my professional life.
The learning professional should be assessed on their industry knowledge – of course, but this should be relevant to them. Are they blogging/tweeting. Are they taking part in conversations etc. How are they keeping abreast of new developments? Do they take responsibility for their own learning….
The standard for learning and development practitioners could be a good start. There are some good areas covered in this document and I’m going to discuss some of these with my team.
Has anyone got a framework for assessing trainers already?
What difficulties did you encounter?