Carol is very proficient in her role and thoroughly enjoys her job. Today her supervisor called her into the office to inform her the company is expanding and needs to hire several more people for their department. Because she is so good at her job, the supervisor announced that Carol would become the trainer for all the new people, thinking she would be thrilled at the opportunity. Carol left the office with an uneasy feeling, wondering what this new duty meant and how she could possibly do her regular job and take on this huge responsibility. She didn’t even like training other people.
Does Carol’s story sound familiar? It is common for people to be assigned a training role without any framework, training, or support to ensure their success. Here are some ways to make sure your trainers are successful.
Provide Clear Requirements
Job requirements need to be clear before moving forward with any training initiative. Otherwise, the trainer will teach others how they do it, which may not align with the organizations’ requirements or cover all the expected content.
- Competency Profile – typically, an employee will need training and sign-off in several areas such as Administration, Operations, and Safety, which may involve one or more trainers.
- Procedures – essential requirements should be covered by policies that are written with training in mind. It is essential to adapt how procedures are written to become effective in the training process. (See our previous Blog Post on How to Write Procedures)
- Training/Competency Program – there should be an organized process for training people, assessing their competence, and signing off when they meet the criteria in their Competency Profile. (See our previous Blog Post on Build the Best Talent for Your Team.) It also means that Trainers are selected, trained, and signed off on their competency.
Select the Right People
Face it. Some people are exceptional at their job, but they make lousy trainers. They lack the patience, the ability to articulate things clearly, and the ability to “coach” rather than “tell.” When you are thinking of assigning someone a training role, ask yourself these questions:
- Patience – Do they have the patience to answer questions, deal with mistakes and work with someone as they learn?
- Technical Capabilities – Do they possess the technical expertise to teach the subject(s)?
- Ability and Willingness to Follow the Process – Are they good at consistently following processes and procedures?
- Coaching Skills – Do they have the ability or willingness to learn how to be a good coach and mentor, enabling people to learn and increase their responsibilities until they are proficient.
Manage the Workload and Compensation
When we simply assign someone a training role on top of their existing duties, it could be a recipe for failure without looking carefully at the overall implications. Let’s take a senior truck driver who was assigned a training role for new drivers. While teaching the new hires, he was missing out on lucrative jobs that involved lots of overtime. With his trainer role costing him significantly on his pay, he did not want to continue. Think about the implications of the training role on the individual before making the assignment and implementing the right measures, which might include compensation, to ensure the role is viewed positively – a resentful trainer will not achieve the results you are looking for.
Train the Trainer
Once a trainer has been appropriately selected, provide the training on what it means to be a trainer, build the essential skills to be successful, and how to follow the training process in your organization. Then observe and follow up to ensure their skills are consistently applied to the expected level.
Tip: Sending someone to a random course on how to be a trainer does not solve the problem. The training needs to be compatible with your organization’s training and competency process and needs to be reinforced on the job, with appropriate sign-off.
Follow the Process
Training programs can quickly fail if the organization does not follow the process. There are many situations where it would be easy to forget about the process – the volume of work picks up, an important client has a rush job, high employee turnover or a host of other scenarios. As a result, organizations are tempted to forget about the training process and assign untrained resources to get the job done! Unfortunately, the untrained people make more mistakes, could get injured and potentially cost the organization more than if they actually turned the work down. Make sure your training and competency process is practical and efficient, so it works even in those challenging times.
Building an effective process to train and support trainers is critical to position any organization for growth. It helps create a great culture where new employees feel valued, business processes are executed consistently and professionally, and the business runs smoother even as it grows. Check out our 4 STEPS/4 SKILLS™ approach for training trainers and implementing an effective Training and Competency Program to learn more, or give us a call at 403-650-0413.