I once had an old boss tell me, “Anyone can train. It’s not that hard.” Then he saw some really bad training and decided to retract his comments. Good move.

Being in the technology training industry for so long, one skill I have learned to master and to recognize is a great trainer.  Trainers often deliver the first sales presentation to your users and create the baseline of predicable adoption.  This part of your project should be taken with top consideration, creating the best environment for your users, and having training led by the best trainers.Trainers and training are two mutually exclusive items that often get lumped together because they may be delivered by the same resources. I’m going to share with you some of the skills I look for in a great trainer and in future posts I will review similar items for great training. Ready? Most companies like to have an insider work on technology projects as part of the training deployment phase. In-house trainers are great because it keeps your skills in house and ready to utilize when you need them like during a new release, new hire on-boarding, refresher training, and new phases.This person or group of people work as a team with your technology vendor’s training team and together, create a solid deployment training plan.

Five solid tips to spot a great trainer in your company:

  1. They have a relatable personality.
    Yes, being liked is actually a great trait for a trainer as they need to capture and keep the attention of a group for several hours to several days. They are also easy going and tend to adapt when things don’t go as planned.
  2. They can translate complex topics in easy to follow steps in conversation.
    Can you imagine if the first iPhone commercial described the FaceTime feature as “concurrent voip and streaming visual images”? Me neither. Great trainers take the tech talk out of the message and make it easy to understand and relatable for the rest of us.
  3. They are better listeners than talkers.
    I often get suggestions for people who would make great trainers because they are big talkers.  Actually, those folks make terrible trainers.  Great trainers are amazing listeners and they make the class about the participants and about the subject. Big talkers make it about themselves. True story.
  4. They typically aren’t the subject matter experts.
    People often believe if someone is the subject matter expert they are the natural trainer of a topic.  This is the opposite of what you want. It’s helpful to have someone familiar with the process but the subject matter expert often focuses on the “what if’s” and providing details greater than what is needed to consume at the time of teaching. Great trainers focus on the 80/20 rule. They teach you how to perform the functions you will execute most of the time and provide you resources to help you when you need something outside of the norm.
  5. Have them audition! Test teaches are the best way to evaluate someone’s true teaching abilities.
    Did you know anyone who delivers training at ServiceMax must successfully complete a test teach with our Education team?  It’s a pretty simple process but it’s a quick way to assess whether someone is a great trainer.

How does a test teach work? I’m glad you asked! A test teach is a 10-15 minute review of someone’s skills that emulates the training they may be targeted to deliver.

Each person is requested to:

  • Select any topic of their choice provided it’s a technology topic using a cloud based tool or application (ServiceMax, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  • Create presentation materials to accompany the test teach
  • Test teaches should be a complete training (topic, objective, delivery, comprehension, etc.)
  • Deliver a great training

You will be amazed with this exercise and never second guess the results. I’ve had people deliver test teaches to me and I still remember their topics from over 10 years ago. That’s a sign of a great trainer!

Take the time to find and develop the natural trainers in your organization! They will be your users biggest project asset.