I have written about the responsibility that managers and participants must have to get the most from a training program. The trainer’s responsibility is the third leg of this three-legged stool. All three must take their roles seriously.
It is important for the trainer to help the manager and participant to get the most out of the training. Ideally you should work with the manager and participant to create or change the training to meet their goals. As a trainer, you should understand the purpose that the participant is attending your training.
Before training begins
As you have seen before, sometimes participants simply sign-up for your program and/or just show up. It’s very important to find out at the beginning of the training by asking why the participants are there. Trainers don’t ask at the beginning of a training program just to fill the time. They are trying to find out how to meet the participant’s needs. If the training won’t meet their need, let them leave.
During the training, it’s important to make the training interactive and participative. This will help the participants make connections to the content.
As a trainer you need to love your participants. When I say love, I mean make an emotional connection with them. I try to put myself in the participant’s shoes. I ask myself, “How would I receive this information if I was participating in my program?”
It is important to ask the participants to share their experiences during the training. The trainer needs to facilitate with the participants how they can apply the content to their lives. I get the participants to offer suggestions and take part in the conversation. This can help other participants find connections. As a facilitator, I don’t need to have all the answers. It’s my job to facilitate the conversation that supports the goals of the program.
When the program ends, it’s critical to ask for evaluations. It’s amazing to me how many trainers want to avoid evaluations. It can be difficult to receive criticism, but it is one of the best ways to learn about the effectiveness of your facilitation, content, and materials. You can have numerical ratings (1 = agree to 5 = disagree), but I find open-ended questions to be the most useful feedback like “what worked well” or “what can be improved”. The responses to the open-ended questions are something I can do something about.
There is an entire set of evaluation steps to measure the effectiveness of training. I don’t have room to fully explain in this post, but you can get more information from the godfather of training evaluations at Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation.
“Improved listening skills will not necessarily result in improved listening. We must apply these skills. We must be convinced that it pays to listen. The combination of desire (I want to listen), effort (I’m going to work at it), and skill (I know how to do it) will result in improved listening.” – by Donald L. Kirkpatrick
There is a lot of work to designing and creating effective training programs. I was recently talking with a good friend and former training colleague who taught me a lot about what I know about effective training. She says that good training takes about 10 hours or preparation for every hour of training delivered. Over the past 20 years of training, I found this to be true. Most participants are surprised to hear this because good trainers make it look easy. Believe me, they are putting hours preparing which is another reason you should be getting the most out of training programs.
What has been one of the most effective training programs you have attended? What has been one of the most effective training programs you have delivered? What made it so effective?