Making the transition from classroom teaching to corporate training is easier than many people might imagine. Teachers already have the bulk of skills you need for being a professional corporate trainer.
The business world might be different from the school setting, but you need the same basic skills to do the job. The transition mainly requires you to adapt to the fast pace of the corporate setting, where you have adult learners who want useful, practical information quickly. Oh, and they like to be energised about what they’re learning too.
Bringing teachers into corporate training makes a lot of sense because of the huge supply of great teachers out there. If you need an excellent corporate trainer, a good starting place might be to ask a teacher you know if they’re interested in taking on a new challenge.
Teaching is actually a demanding profession that can be stressful. On top of having to instruct classes for long periods, there’s now a significant admin burden on most teachers. Corporate training offers some relief from that, with the potential to work fewer hours for more pay.
8 Skills Teachers and Trainers Share
Teachers already have many of the essential skills to be a good corporate trainer. In fact, with a little adjustment, you can reasonably expect teachers to be really strong in many areas.
1. Good communication
Teachers are usually great communicators. They’ve learned to pitch their message so that it can be easily understood by everyone. That skill of clear communication can be adapted to a corporate environment. Whether you're a new graduate or the company CEO, you probably want something simple and clear when you do a training session. Often, training is something of an escape from a busy and noisy professional life.
2. Organisational skills
Teachers need sharp organisational skills to plan their work effectively. With little time for preparation, they need to be ready to present to an audience – day in and day out. Similar organisational skills are needed to do well in the corporate training world. Trainers need to prepare their content carefully so that they can present it to maximum effect.
3. Group dynamics
Understanding how to work with different audiences takes time and cannot be achieved without some trial and error. Teachers come into corporate training with the advantage of already knowing basic principles about how to manage an audience. For example, you’d expect teachers to be good at reading audience reactions to a new topic, and adjusting the pace and content to bring everyone along.
Confidence is an important quality – whether it’s genuine or somewhat manufactured – for both teachers and trainers. Trainers need the confidence to stand in front of a group of professionals and pass on knowledge and information. Being confident will make it easy for your clients to take you seriously. It's also a marketing skill that helps you to keep being hiring for training roles.
Working with a large group is not easy for people who do not have the ability to project confidence. Since teachers have already learned how to talk in front of large groups of students, they are well positioned to handle corporate meetings, seminars and training sessions.
5. Motivation skills
Experienced teachers are experts in motivation. There are times when students get overwhelmed with all the school work, and it’s the job of the teacher to keep them enthused and on track. Motivation helps students achieve learning goals. Teachers are well practised at injecting fun, exercises and other forms of mental stimulation into lessons.
The same kinds of motivational skills are relevant to corporate training. The role of an instructor is to help participants improve in their work on an ongoing basis, which is only possible if the trainer has an engaging and motivating style.
6. Listening skills
Teachers have listening skills and response behaviours that can be easily adapted to adult training. Teachers do not just pass knowledge to students. They also take time to listen to students. It’s important to listen so you can understand their curious minds and adjust the lesson plan. Likewise, trainers must be good listeners and responsive to their clients. Staff feel more engaged when they have a sense of control over learning directions.
7. Understanding and empathetic
Teachers are known for being empathetic and understanding, traits which are valued in corporate training. Teachers show empathy by relating to the feelings and needs of the students. Corporate trainers should also show empathy and understanding. By doing so, participants are encouraged to be open, honest and sharing with the group. This enhances the learning environment.
8. Assessment and feedback
Teachers bring a host of useful assessment, grading and evaluation skills. These skills are developed in teacher preparation programs and constantly honed through student report writing. Assessment and feedback are essential processes in being both a classroom teacher and a training professional.
Like a teacher, a trainer does assessment to determine whether sessions are producing good results. Being consistently re-hired fundamentally depends on showing results, in terms of both learning outcomes and feedback about instruction quality.
Skills Teachers May Need to Develop
Apart from the common transferable skills, there are still new skills that teachers will be required to learn. The process of transitioning from teaching to corporate training is requires some changes. Teachers need to learn about the business world and how to be charismatic as an instructor. Here are some of the skills teachers may need to develop.
A. Keep up with professional trends
The business world is always changing, and trainers need to keep up with the new trends. A good trainer can only instruct their trainees based on what they know and understand. Having a good knowledge of what’s happening in the training area is essential for trainers to show best practice. Numerous resources are available online to help you stay up to speed.
B. Adapt to business culture
Teachers need to learn about the business environment before they venturing too far into corporate training. Businesses and schools are run in a different manner, and teachers need to get a feel for the needs and expectations of managers and staff. A trainer’s style might differ from one business to another, but there are common approaches that can be relied upon to work for business clients.
C. Technology skills
Technology skills are important for corporate trainers. When delivering information and content to trainees, the trainer may be required to construct a slideshow, jump in and out of quick video clips, or do a multi-media presentation. They should be knowledgeable in using different applications and software. Teachers will already have some tech skills but may have to acquire more.
Should You Recruit a Teacher?
You can see from the discussion of transferable skills that being a classroom teacher is a really solid platform for becoming a corporate trainer. Most skills are already there, though some subject learning and style adjustments will always be needed.
Because teachers greatly outnumber corporate trainers in the community (e.g. the ratio is more than 10:1 in Australia), there's a huge talent pool waiting to be tapped. So it may be a smart strategy to factor in teachers when you are thinking about adding to your corporate training team.