Certifications are important to employers in a number of industries, especially when it comes to technology, where the fast pace of development requires employees to be prepared, knowledgeable and—most importantly—professional about processes and applications. The ability for organizations to compete is as much contingent on the products and services they creates as the competence of their staff. However, as organizations invest in training on new technologies and processes, how can they be sure the training their staff receives is at the level they need to see a return on their investment? A seasoned, experienced and professional trainer is as important as the materials they are delivering to ultimately provide the highest value possible to organizations.
Unprepared and unqualified trainers are easy to spot. They may seem unfamiliar with the content of the materials or be unable to answer questions. Often, these trainers can be the most “fun,” as they permit learners to take their minds elsewhere and fail to challenge them in a real way. Even to the best of a trainer’s ability, they may simply fall behind in the own knowledge, tools and skills required to provide the best learning experience. Regardless, employing these trainers can put employees at risk of receiving sub-par training, ultimately putting organizations at risk of sending their people away without the success they hope to achieve through training. While learners must demonstrate their knowledge to their employers in business applications, what similar assessment should students and organizations apply to trainers to determine their competency?
For instance, consider the Agile framework Scrum, used in software development. Software developers often recommend Scrum certifications to development teams to improve software delivery within their organizations. This certification can be achieved using in-house trainers or external training organizations. However, Scrum, like many trainings, is taught in many different methods and formats, with some requiring assessments and others offering certification in exchange for attendance. This inconsistency can lead to confusion for learners and frustrations for employers who expect outcomes from certifications that are not always guaranteed.
With that in mind, the following tips for trainers will also help organizations determine the quality of trainers and training programs and ensure that they are delivering the best training to their employees.
1. Keep it Consistent
Professional trainers should apply themselves, as much as possible, to delivering consistent training. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t work on delivering unique learning experiences, but the quality and knowledge of training will suffer if a trainer is jumping from one approach to another. Consistency not only sends a message to organizations that the trainer is well-versed in the best-in-class approach, but it also gives organizations confidence that all of the employees they send for training will receive the same level and type of training, ensuring consistency in application.
2. Commit to Community
There are trainers around the country—and the world—delivering the same or similar training across various industries. By joining online groups, training associations and industry communities, a trainer gains the support and expertise of others. From an organization’s perspective, a trainer who is connected becomes a valued resource whose finger is on the pulse of their field. This is perhaps one of the most important steps a trainer can take in growing his or her professional development as well as a vast network of peers, colleagues and friends.
3. Prove It
Some training associations require extensive peer reviews, testing, training and interviews before a trainer is able to go out into the field, but many don’t. For trainers, a proactive approach to providing evidence of their education allows them to produce demonstrable credentials, in addition to a certificate.
4. Work It
Often, trainers practice what they teach as consultants. In areas such as software development, it’s vital to stay current on best practices by actually working on software projects. While some training associations require these activities of trainers, those trainers who aren’t mandated to stay current should do so anyway, in order to understand the challenges facing their students. A balance between a trainer’s own ongoing education and practical work experience is a winning combination in the classroom.
It’s not just a buzzword for tech companies. An innovative approach to training—whether through interactive demonstrations, guest lecturers, incentivizing group work, etc.—will grab the attention of students who often face the same dry training workshops.
If you are part of an organization that sends employees outside the company for training, don’t assume that a certificate is a reflection of understanding. Insist on vetting trainers and courses to ensure that employees are receiving the best possible training and that they will be able to apply that training in the real world. If you’re a trainer, don’t get complacent. Remember that your responsibility is not only to the organization but to each and every student, to help them understand how they can work better and smarter.