Feature: Three Levels of Trainer Development

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TrainerDuncan Miles, joint Director of Inspire Training and Consultancy and Head of Training Design and Delivery at the Office for National Statistics, offers some advice for trainer development from new starter to training manager.

There has been a considerable shift in the customer expectations of a trainer over the last few years. The role is now multi-faceted and incorporates that of an enabler, a consultant, a learning advisor, a facilitator, a presenter, a coach and a trainer.

People new to the profession often struggle to come to terms with the wide variety of roles required and expected of them. Their focus is often primarily on knowing sufficient information and then being able to present it back to an audience in an entertaining way.

Whilst these are important functions, by themselves they do little to ensure effective learning and development. A number of newly appointed trainers that I have worked with have asked me: "What makes a good trainer and how do I become one?" In attempting to answer these two difficult questions I have written this three-stage development process for new trainers.

Individuals can assess themselves against the various criteria and then plan their own development in line with the gaps that they identify.

Profession
This is all about empowering the trainers' profession. A profession is characterised by:
* Having a set of knowledge/competencies.
* Having a practice of conduct.
* Monitoring their own profession.

The following competences are not meant to be prescriptive, they are meant to provide a framework for discussion and development. Specific learning needs will have to be identified between the new trainer and their coach/mentor/line manager.

Stage one
This stage refers to the period within six months of a trainer taking up appointment. Trainers involved in the delivery, design and evaluation of training and development programmes should aim to be competent in the following key areas. This framework may also be used by those who undertake presentational work and those who run training sessions on an occasional basis.
* The identification of individual learning needs.
* The design and delivery of training sessions.
* The preparation of training resources.
* The facilitation of learning through presentation and group activities/processes.
* The evaluation of training and development sessions.
* The evaluation of one's own practice.

Stage two
This refers to the period within the first 18 months of taking up appointment.
* The identification of individual's and group's learning aims, needs and styles.
* The design and delivery of training programmes, or one-to-one coaching to meet learners' aims, needs and styles.
* Collaboration with others in addressing performance issues.
* Agreeing learning programmes with learners.
* Monitoring and reviewing progress of learners.
* The evaluation of training and development programmes.
* The evaluation of one's own practice.
* Monitoring, evaluating and reviewing fellow trainers' practice.

Stage three
This is part of a trainer's ongoing development.
* Identification of organisational HR requirements.
* Ensuring the strategic position of HR development within the organisation.
* Development and implementation of HR policies and plans to support the business.
* Implementation of HR development plans.
* Evaluation of the role of HR within the office.
* Introducing improvements to HR development within the office.
* Evaluation and development of own practices.
* Establish and improve organisational culture and values.
* Coaching and mentoring less experienced trainers.

Within each of the above stages there will be a wide variety of different knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours required. These will need to be discussed in detail between the new trainer and their coach/mentor/line manager.

The coach/mentor/line manager will be expected to work with their new trainer. This might involve co-running and designing events; observing the trainer in action to guide their individual development; facilitating pause and review sessions after events, etc.

Values and ethics
Being a trainer is very powerful and there are dangers if we take on dual roles. For example the shift in roles between 'trainer' and 'socialiser' on residential events can cause confusion and result in irresponsible conversations (breaching of confidentiality, exploitation, conflict in core values and behaviours etc).

All of a trainers actions and behaviours should adhere to the following:
* Responsibility to the profession (eg types of work undertaken - effective 'wanted and needed' together with 'willing and able' conversations; role modelling behaviours).
* Responsibility to the training participant (eg not exploiting for personal gain; duty of care; taking responsibility for all that happens during the event the trainer is running).
* Responsibility to the public (eg confidentiality; supporting any corporate actions).
* Responsibility to training colleagues (respect; support; duty of care).

The above bullet points are all very high-level statements. It would be impossible to list all of the possible definitions. These statements provide high-level guidance and in discussion trainers will need to develop their own case studies based around real-life issues. Each bullet point is underpinned by a number of values and ethics. The power of applying these will come from the dialogue over how to apply them in your own situations.

Ethics in general are easy to grasp and apply in situations that are obviously right or obviously wrong. Many of the situations that a new trainer will find themselves in will be somewhere along the right/wrong continuum and will need considerable dialogue.

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