This month’s secret training manager is Italian and has worked in a variety of fields including public research organizations and service companies. Here she talks with Scott Levey about the basic elements that make training and trainers effective.
What makes training effective?
To me an effective training is a training that uses most of the senses. Meaning: seeing, hearing, touching. The learners need to experience things and be actively engaged. Of course, the training needs to cover the thinking side, but adult learners need to learn by doing things. A good training event also has to be designed to have different activities and moments. For example, it needs moments to listen and get input and ideas, moments to pause and ponder on the theory that was just presented to you, moments to experiment, and moments to recap. I want the trainer to also plan in multiple moments where they cover again the main and salient points of the training. For me this is essential. I would also say that effective training sessions need to have a certain pace and this pace changes depending on the moment. After lunch the trainer will increase the pace to get people moving again. Alternatively, the pace may slow down if the trainer sees that the participants aren’t following what the trainer is trying to do or trying to say. So that’s what I think makes an effective training.
What makes the trainer effective? I mean you yourself have worked with many trainers and you have also trained yourself, haven’t you?
Well the most obvious answer would be that the trainer is the subject matter expert. She is an expert in her field and has real experience … but that isn’t enough. I’m going to give you a trivial example but I think everyone can relate to it. It’s about my daughter. She’s in high school right now and her math teacher is brilliant. He has a very brilliant mind … but he is not a pedagogue, so he is a teacher by definition but he is not a teacher through experience, and he is not patient with them. He knows his stuff, and is really smart, but he doesn’t know how to convey the salient points to my daughter or his class. When I think back to the many companies I have worked in, I have also seen similar experiences with internal training sessions ran in various topics. It could be IT related, quality management, HR or technical skills. Being a subject matter expert is the start but not the end.
Being an expert is not enough; you also need to be an expert in pedagogy, you need to be patient and you need to be attentive to the participants and allow them to ask questions. You need also to be able to shut down any conversation that strays from the topic because it can become difficult and you can waste time and not reach your training goals. This is not good because as we know training has an agenda and you need to stay on track.
Somehow a trainer also needs to be very confident and have some leadership behaviors, because she’s the leader of the group for the time of the training. Finally, I think an effective trainer has to have those storytelling skills where you put theory and experience into a nice little story that illustrates the point. And is easy to understand and remember
So, what I’m saying is an effective trainer is somebody who
- Is a subject matter expert
- Is a good communicator
- Is people-oriented
- Can lead a group
- Has the skills needed to design training so there are the right moments at the right times
- Has the skills to deliver the training in an engaging way and manage the pace
- Is focused and reaches the objective set for the training
Train-the-trainer courses can really help for both new and confident trainers … but it is my opinion that nothing really beats experience. So that’s what I think makes a trainer a good trainer.
Who is the secret L&D manager?
The “secret L&D manager” is actually a group of L&D managers. They are real people who would prefer not to mention their name or company – but do want to write anonymously so they can openly and directly share their ideas and experience with their peers.
You can meet more of our secret L&D managers here …
- Without boundaries – Why I believe the digital learning experience represents the future of L&D
- Screening potential training providers
- 3 questions to ask your existing training providers
- Implementing the 70-20-10 model: insights from a secret L&D manager
- What do L&D managers look for in a training offer?
- Making sure managers understand the importance of their role in developing staff