Guila Muir

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

How To Build “Home-Grown” Trainers

Happy top manager standing by the whiteboard and interacting with business partners at seminar

Have you ever wished you could reduce your organization’s dependence on outside trainers? How about developing your own workshops? Join the ranks of organizations that have benefited from developing their internal resources, saved money, and improved the relevance and quality of their training!

What’s Not Working

Over the last few years, I’ve worked with dozens of agencies to develop their own “home grown” trainers and tailor-made curricula. Why? Agencies tell me it begins with dissatisfaction with current options:

1. Sending employees out to workshops advertised by national companies. Though some of the information is valuable, the workshops are generic. Typically participating are a hundred people or more, from all industries. One or two from your organization that attend may benefit, but the value to the agency may end there.

2. Bringing in training experts. Though sometimes necessary and very appropriate, bringing in experts can be expensive. These specialists may provide a “one-size-fits-all” training – after all, they just gave this same presentation in Cleveland a week ago. And what happens if you can’t find an expert in your very specific subject area?

Exploring Options

The term “training of trainers” (TOT) can mean different things. To some, it means training people the “ins and outs” of a specific program, the ultimate goal being their ability to teach that program. For example, a local health promotion organization trains elementary school teachers to use its packaged curriculum. They assume that teachers will use their already-established training skills with the product. This type of TOT’s focus is on content.

A more flexible type of TOT focuses on process. It usually includes how to design a lesson based on adult learning principles, how to integrate a variety of participatory exercises, how to enhance presentation skills, develop learning aids and evaluate the learning. The best TOTs include strategies to ensure learning occurs and to identify and analyze training needs from the outset. Using these new strategies, participants often develop and present a lesson based on their area of expertise that they can use immediately.

Steps To Develop “Home Grown” Trainers

Once an organization decides to “grow” its own trainers, there are two major investments: a one-time investment in training and an ongoing investment of time.

  • When possible, garner enthusiastic, visible support from the top.
    When leaders overtly support trainer development, all employees get the message that learning is a valued and important element of work.
  • Select people to become “trainers in training.”
    These can be people with training expertise or just a strong interest, as well as subject matter experts who traditionally have “bored the pants off” people while transmitting information. Clarify expectations, time commitments and potential rewards for participating.
  • Provide an expert Training of Trainers.
  • Provide regular Trainer Development Meetings. These meetings usually take place once a month. Trainers meet to discuss what is working well and to debrief issues and challenges. Often a different trainer will model a “chunk” of curriculum or an activity each month.

Wouldn’t it be great to use the resources you have right at your fingertips to develop or expand your agency’s training potential? “Home gown” trainers benefit personally from enhancing their skills, the agency benefits from increasing its training ability and other employees benefit from increased training opportunities. “Home-grown” trainers play an important role in creating an organizational culture of learning, innovation and self-reliance.

Guila Muir is the premiere trainer of trainers, facilitators, and presenters on the West Coast of the United States. Since 1994, she has helped thousands of professionals improve their training, facilitation, and presentation skills. Find out how she can help transform you from a boring expert to a great presenter:

© Guila Muir.


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