Tips & Tricks for Consistently Effective Training
Feature Story – by Tim Greiner
Following certain principles can keep field training going strong
Since our teams are increasingly distributed, how do you make sure everyone doing the same job is getting the same quality training, regardless of their site location? Managers and learning leaders of global organizations wrestle with this issue all the time, and often the solutions are slow to come and difficult to implement.
However, there are some general principles that can help in keeping your field training consistently effective.
Find the Right Trainers
There are two key components to great instructors: subject matter expertise and strong facilitation skills. Both attributes are vital to successful training delivery.
Students will very quickly disregard the lesson when they are not convinced the person delivering it has significantly more expertise in the topic than they do already. Instructors who don’t know the content well struggle when questions arise that require deeper understanding than just the content on the slides.
As such, your process for identifying and qualifying instructors must evaluate candidates on their competence in the topic. It should get to their ability to think on their feet in response to the inevitable curveball questions that will come.
But even the most expert instructor will lose the audience if they don’t know how to facilitate effective learner engagement. You’ve seen it before; the monotone slide reader who puts the room to sleep or is unaware that most of the online attendees are off doing other things while the instructor drones on.
One indicator for this attribute is the candidate’s desire to teach in the first place. There is a difference between an eager instructor and someone who mortally dreads public speaking!
So, what to do? For starters, make sure the process you use to identify and approve instructors sets clear expectations for both content knowledge and facilitation skills. To do that you’ll have to define what those expectations are.
As you prepare candidate trainers, make sure you’re providing the resources to support their development in both areas. To clarify content expertise expectations, you must provide:
- Recorded deliveries of the materials they can practice with.
- Knowledge assessments for them to test and hone their understanding.
- Reading materials and references around the topic that will provide broad contextual understanding.
To help them meet your course delivery expectations, consider offering:
- Attendance to third-party workshops on presenting/facilitating.
- Mock presentation opportunities to enable practice and feedback.
- Curated content such as on LinkedIn or EdX that instructs on and demonstrates your standards for delivery.
Whatever your assessment process for new trainers, these resources will help them build their strengths both in content expertise and in learner engagement.
So now that you’ve got them ready to go, how do you help ensure their ongoing success?
Keep an Eye Out and Provide Support
If you’ve established the expectations clearly, you’re already a long way toward having your trainers meet them over time. But you’ll need ways to continually measure performance against those expectations.
Whatever instruments you use for this, such as post-training surveys, student knowledge assessments or post-training practice review, they should include ways to measure against the same expectations you set for new instructors. And they should do that across both the content expertise and facilitation skills domains.
To the degree you can make these instruments quantitative, it will also allow you to set triggers that prompt action. For example, when instructors score below some threshold, it represents an opportunity to provide additional resources to bolster their performance, to reinforce expectations and to determine when the role is simply not a good fit.
Clarity, Support and Encouragement
As with any role, the best thing you can do for your instructors is to be clear about what is being asked of them and to provide a wealth of resources to help them achieve that ask. They should understand how you are measuring their performance and know where to find the resources that will help ensure their success against those measures.
And don’t forget to reward them often! A former employee of mine taught me the value of “catching them doing good.”
Small gestures that recognize their accomplishments go a long way toward developing long-lasting and rewarding partnerships with your instructors.
Tim Greiner is the senior director of USP education for the United States Pharmacopeial Convention. Email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.