Love thy trainer as thyself: Making trainer-friendly stuff!


Share on LinkedIn

How trainer- friendly is your training design?

Abandoned Classroom (what you do not want!) Source: Flikr ImagesAbandoned Classroom (what you do not want!) Source: Flikr Images

First, what do trainers want?

· Easy to teach

o I have been guilty of creating training materials that are just too ambitious, and I think most designers have. They get excited about new technology or a new program, they use themselves as a model learner, they plan around a superstar trainer who could conduct training while doing aerial yoga…it’s hard to crash to earth when you see that your training is just too difficult to teach and you need to start over.

That’s why good designers should consider the following:

Mechanics and Logistics: how many students are there? What is the general condition of the technology in the rooms?
Your audience: Who will be learning these lessons? Are we talking about experienced, tenured professionals having a “boot camp” experience? Or are we talking about shy, nervous 18 year olds putting a toe into their first job post school?
Your teachers/ trainers: Who will be teaching this? What is the mean level of experience of your trainers?

· Easy to break down, shift around, plug and play, stop and start

o When I was training for Call Center Communication Basics, the company I worked for made a decision that to slow down attrition, they were going to ramp up “engagement”—the end result was a 2 hour mandatory speech/ Q and A session with bored, restless HR professional that ate up a big chunk of our already-tight weeklong schedule. We also had students coming in for the first time on Day 2, regular hours long delays due to weather conditions, and so on.

If your training plan is timed to the minute as falls apart if it has to be broken up….time to rethink.

· Easy to customize or change

o I think most of us (or maybe all of us) have trotted out shiny new lesson plans or materials that we’re just bursting our buttons over (mine was called “The Psychology of Selling”—and boy howdy was it going way over the heads of the front- line retention reps that I was teaching it to!

There may have been a “tell me what emotions these ads evoke in you” unit, but I’m trying to erase that from memory) only to discover it’s not working.

The best lesson plans, materials, and agendas have a little wiggle room and plan B built in, so that if it’s flaming out, you can smoothly switch, downgrade, or customize your items to fit the situation.

How do you make training that’s trainer friendly?

1. Talk to trainers

a. Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) when you get to a certain level (Director, Global VP) it’s easy to forget what it was like to be a trainer. Some Instructional Designers were never trainers, they were perhaps computer experts, or Captivate gurus, and therefore have no earthly idea what a pain it is to find a whiteboard marker at an offsite location.

Meeting with your trainers has many benefits, including getting their buy-in, helping them become comfortable with changes and new materials, helping you develop a good relationship for follow up and measuring your success, and last but not least: finding out early in the game what pitfalls, particulars, and hurdles your training program will face.

2. Teach it yourself

· Wow, it’s really hard to spell out

letter by letter! I guess we better find a solution for that if I want my trainees to surf that site during class!

· Wow, that big mouth in the back of the room is dominating all of your rhyme and song games!

· Wow, everyone really hates role playing games and the energy after lunch is just nil!

You get the idea.

3. Attend classes regularly

a. Things that worked in one classroom, with a particular trainer and class, might not work so well in other environments. It’s really key to attend more than one class, over time—see if the training agenda, materials, and overall structure are holding up— and if it’s being taught the way you envisioned or your trainers need more explicit instructions.

4. Talk to students

a. Usually, students can tell the difference between engaged, excited trainers and “barking seals”—those trainers that substitute volume, slogans, and goofy facial expressions for genuine passion for the job.

Discreetly ask around and see what the students think- do the trainers seem comfortable with the materials and lessons, or do they seem like they’re going through the motions dying for their next coffee break?

Your trainers are your pit crew, your driver, and your race car all in one—it’s vital to keep them interested, excited and on board with your ideas and execution. Now you know how!

Naomi Kelsey
Naomi Kelsey has 10+ years of progressive responsibilities in the customer service industry, and 3 in the BPO training field, with an Instructional Design focus. She specializes in creating custom-tailored training programs in Language, Customer Service, and US Culture for both internal and external call center clients. Her vision is to bring "supernaturally human" customer service to all customers through innovative training methods and materials, great coaching tips, and true expert advice.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here