Dear Workforce How Do We Train Our Trainers?

By Staff Report

Jun. 3, 2009

Dear Back to School:

This is a great question that has two answers: a short one, and a longer one (which might be more important).

Short answer:
• Gather stakeholders and subject-matter experts and create the training content.
• Identify potential trainers.
• Equip the trainers with the tools they need (training materials, program templates, etc.).
• Equip the trainers with the skills they need (facilitation and presentation skills).
• Pay attention to trainer evaluation and evaluation of the training program as a whole.

The size of the population to be trained and your pool of candidates to become trainers will determine a great deal regarding what “training the trainers” will entail.

If expertise in the subject is not prevalent, then the trainers might be learning the topic first themselves as part of the process of equipping them to then train others.

Your favorite search engine can probably provide you with tons of examples of how other organizations went about this, but the fact that this is a new move for your organization warrants special attention.

The longer and more important answer:
Since this is a first for your organization, take a step back and make sure you have proper context before launching into identifying trainers and building content.

Any training initiative needs to start with a clear understanding of what the purpose of the training is (i.e., what is the result the organization wants?). What will success look like? How success will be measured will translate into how you will be judged, so making sure you fully understand that is where to start.

If this is a new path for the organization, you really need to explain why it’s being pursued.

Obviously, this must be approached carefully and respectfully, but do not be afraid to do a bit of digging to understand what is driving this move. Remember that this is a first for the organization, and not just you, so make sure everyone is in sync about key objectives.

If there are any significant disconnects or conflicting expectations, you must identify these early, because making sure everyone is in sync will determine your chances for success.

Here are some possible driving factors:
• To reassign or increase the use of internal employees to avoid layoffs or to increase employee engagement.
• To “insource” in an effort to rein in training costs because of economic issues.
• To address a new area needing training (such as ethics) that previously did not have training associated with it.
• To comply with regulations (e.g., mandatory sexual harassment training).
• To address concerns related to the value or quality of existing or past training programs or initiatives.

There are distinct nuances to each of these, but whatever the driving factors are, they should be guiding your efforts throughout the entire process.

Successfully hitting milestones and target dates are valuable accomplishments only when the driving factors of the training program are met in the process. So, make sure you know these. That is where you need to start.

SOURCE: Scott Weston is the author of HR Excellence: Improving Service Quality and Return on Investment in Human Resources, May 5, 2009

LEARN MORE: Organizations have been growing their own training experts internally for a long while, and the trend likely will continue amid the economic crunch.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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