Onboarding New Trainers
By Bob Holiday
Throughout this issue there are a number of topics that support trainer development; from a great article on building a career development program to influencing commitment on a team among others. I’d like to start a little earlier in a trainer’s career, as in their initial onboarding and training to our teams. An analogy I always use during the interview process for new trainers is “Here, there are no frying pans, just fires!” Sometimes because we are so busy, it is difficult to step back and ensure we are onboarding new members to the team as well as we’d like, and they need to be set up for success.
If the trainer will be involved in not just delivering training, but in creating content, there are three basic topics I suggest you include in those first few months of onboarding: introduction to instructional design and ADDIE; basics of Bloom’s taxonomy; and intro to Kirkpatrick’s four levels. Many companies have already developed solid internal trainer development programs to cover these topics, but if you haven’t been able to do so yet, something to consider:
- Introduction to ADDIE – having a basic understanding of why we should understand our audience, what our objectives are and why we measure success are critical to creating training content, but without this understanding most new trainers would head straight to a PowerPoint deck without even identifying if it is the appropriate delivery method.
- Without a basic understanding of Bloom’s six levels of learning and behavioral verbs, how do you write a good learning objective?
- Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels – from smile sheets to assessments, and change in behavior over time, a basic understanding is needed to measure the success of any training initiative.
There are many resources available that cover these topics, from formal courses to a vast amount of information found on the Internet that can help you to pull some basic courses together. Kirkpatrick’s book, Implementing the Four Levels is also a great tool.
Two other very important items in those early days of a new trainer are assigning a mentor and a formal Train the Trainer (TTT) program. There are so many nuances to the new trainer’s role that we can’t possibly capture them all in a checklist or orientation, many of them are best learned on-the-job and often they are best accomplished by a peer mentor. Developing the philosophy of “pay it forward” is absolutely critical to the long-term success of any training team, but especially ours where most trainers tend to turn-over in two to four years or less. As for a formal TTT, I’ve always looked first to Primetime! For Trainers (not just a plug for SPBT, but I believe it is a great course).
Whether a new trainer will be primarily facilitating or involved in writing a Request for Proposal, identifying and selecting vendor partners, writing or editing learning objectives, or developing any learning content, these five items will significantly aid the new trainer to better understand the world he or she has now chosen as a profession and speed their time to being fully productive members of our teams.