I was recently going through some of the past blogs for social media and came across one written by Ralph “Good at your job v good as a manager”. This is a subject that always rings true as I’ve witnessed it many times and it got me thinking that actually, there are huge comparisons with training:

In my career, I’ve come across so many fellow trainers; some good, some amazing and some (to put it kindly) are not so good!  I have also been in positions many times where I’ve heard the statement: “You’re outstanding at ‘X’, so I’m going to make you a trainer for it”.  I see the judgement and justification of making them a trainer purely based on their ability to do something well, rather than the potential to be a good trainer; often then what follows, is a spectacular fail!  So why is this and what should we look for in potential trainers?

Firstly, I’d say consider how that person got good at what they were doing; was it through sheer natural talent or was it through the experience of making mistakes and learning to get better?

For the people who have the natural talent, you have to appreciate that actually what they do comes fairly easy for them and they’ve perhaps, never really had to consider what it takes for them to be able to do it so well.  Then when they train people, this can very easily translate into massive frustration for them when they have people who struggle with something they’ve always found so easy; this is when you hear common statements such as “What do you mean you can’t do it, it’s easy, look!”. They also might struggle with questions such as “But what happens if?” or “What would I do if?” because they’ve never encountered those problems themselves.  Don’t get me wrong, I know many talented people who’ve made excellent trainers, but they are the exception to my experience.

For those who got good by learning, the learning journey has likely had many challenges for them; they’ve had to learn the hard way through mistakes and strategies to deal with setbacks but are all the richer for the experience.  They will be able to break things down easier for those who perhaps struggle as they did; they will likely have and be able to train the coping strategies to deal with the difficult situations and will be more likely to be able to answer the questions such as the “But?” and “What if’s?”. This is also the group of people when you tell them you want them to train, will likely have those self-limiting beliefs saying, “Oh I’m not that good / the best at that” but do you have to be the best to train it very well?  I’ll draw the comparison with sport here and pose the question, was Sir Alex Ferguson, the best footballer?  Think of how many top sports people become the most successful trainers/coaches and you’ll have your answer!

Before deciding if someone is suitable to be a trainer, consider how they accomplished their standard (as above) and if they already have or the potential to:

Demonstrate competence and skill?

Be personable and patient?

Demonstrate excellent communication skills with importantly, the ability to listen?

Have a drive and determination to keep learning and develop their skills?

Demonstrate good organisational skills?

The above points are by no means comprehensive, but a good starting ground as many things make up a great trainer.  To wrap up, one final thought: If you were to ask every single member of the Target team if we were all great trainers at the start of our careers, every single one of us would give an emphatic “No” but would echo my blog by saying we’ve all worked hard to get to where we are today and in fact continue to do so; every day is a learning day.

Scott Fraser is a Master Trainer at Target Training and delivers our PTT Train the Trainer courses and our Advanced PTT Train the Trainer courses.  You can read more about him here.