How to Choose the Best Train the Trainer Provider

Expert tips to help you avoid hiring mediocre training providers



If you’re like many of the Human Resource Managers and business owners I meet, you are overwhelmed by the sheer number of companies now offering Train the Trainer programmes.

You know that only great training enables companies of any size to achieve their goals of hitting revenue targets, increasing profitability, growing market share, keeping stakeholders happy and staying ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, many companies choose external training providers who fail to deliver high quality training, so their companies not only waste their investment of money and employee time but are unable to reach those five big targets.

This, in turn, gives company executives, who often regard training as an expense rather than an investment, the perfect excuse to reduce or even slash training budgets further. It also affects the people who receive the training. If they experience mediocre or poor training, their job performance and morale will suffer and they will be less motivated to sign up for further training. They are also more than likely to tell other colleagues that training is a waste of time and energy and adds nothing to their ability to perform.

That’s why it is crucial to choose the best Train the Trainer provider from the outset. It’s also why I’ve written this guide. I’m Ralph Moody, the founder of Target Training Associates, an approved training centre which specialises in management development and Train the Trainer programmes. I know from my clients how great training can positively impact any company’s productivity and results. I know from speaking with HR professionals and business owners the damage that poor training can inflict on any company.

So how can you tell one training provider from another? How can you determine which one is great and which one is terrible?

You know that choosing the wrong one could turn out to be a disastrous mistake with long term consequences on productivity and your employee’s morale and therefore engagement.

I want to help you avoid making the mistakes that so many HR Managers and business owners make when it comes to choosing a Train the Trainer programme provider.

In this guide, I explain how to spot a great training provider. By the time you’ve finished reading it, you’ll know how to recognise a mediocre company and, more importantly, how to identify an excellent provider.

Armed with this knowledge, you can be confident that you will always choose a training company that provides exactly what your company needs and delivers it in a way that completely engages and motivates your employees to perform at their very best. Here’s to your continuing success!


The Characteristics of a Great Train the Trainer Provider


A great Train the Trainer Provider offers an outstanding programme

Delivering training is a vitally important role and therefore needs to be taken seriously. To do this, trainers need to be sure they have the tools and confidence to deliver inspiring and stimulating training that not only meets objectives but is also interesting and enjoyable. It should provide a clear structure for developing training sessions and give an understanding of the underlying principles of training.

An outstanding Train the Trainer Programme offers a mix of both theory and practical experience so that participants are capable of designing and facilitating their own outstanding training programmes.

The curriculum should cover the concepts and principles of adult learning and teaching, learning retention, training styles, the roles and responsibilities of being a trainer, the competencies of a successful trainer, and how to create a lesson plan that is informative and engaging.

Participants should be given tools and techniques that will enable them to become outstanding trainers. Participants on our two-day, ILM [1]-accredited Train the Trainer Programme, for example, learn the key principles of training and also facilitating tools, and questioning techniques. They learn how to engage with audiences, get advice on dealing with difficult groups and individuals, and a systems approach to training.

During any Train the Trainer programme, participants should have plenty of opportunities to interact with peers and practice their presentation skills. Participants should feel comfortable in the learning environment the training provider creates. The training provider should involve participants in both self-assessment and peer assessment.

Graduates should receive continuing support from the training provider.


A great Train the Trainer Provider has raving fans

You’ll hear about great training providers from colleagues and contacts. If you haven’t already done so, ask your colleagues and contacts for their recommendations. Word-of-mouth is the best kind of recommendation since people will only recommend a product or service that they consider to be excellent. They know that if you use a product or service they have recommended and are disappointed with the results, their professional reputation will be tarnished by association.

Do not however go on recommendation alone. Conduct your own research into the recommended training provider.

A mediocre training company has a lacklustre reputation

When you have an appalling meal or service at a restaurant, you are likely to feel strongly motivated to save your friends and colleagues from going through the same experience. You will probably go out of your way to alert them to the hideous experience that awaits them if they book a meal there. But when you have a meal that was not terrible but just disappointing, you aren’t so strongly motivated to warn others. You might feel disappointed and perhaps a bit resentful of your wasted time and investment.

The same applies with training companies. People will go out of their way to tell you about a truly terrible training company, but they won’t bother saying anything about one that is just mediocre. They will just feel resentful and disappointed. That is why so many mediocre training companies survive – they are not so bad that they’ve been hounded out of the industry by outraged customers (even if they should be!). That’s not to say they are harmless because they are not. A mediocre training experience may put some people off workplace learning for good, which has negative consequences for them and their companies.


A great Train the Trainer Provider is accredited by a National Awarding Body

Choose a training company whose programme has been assessed. I know from our experience that the process of getting accredited by a National Awarding Body is a demanding and lengthy process. But it is one that gives our clients peace of mind. They know that when their employees train with us, they are receiving the highest possible standard of training.

A mediocre training company is not accredited by a National Awarding Body

Perhaps their courses do not meet the standards of the National Awarding Body or maybe they just don’t want to be bothered going through a rigorous accreditation process. Whatever the reason, if your employees train with them, you won’t have the security of knowing they are receiving the highest standard of training.


A great Train the Trainer Provider has a wide range of testimonials

As a client, you look for social proof that a training provider delivers what it claims it can. The best way to get that social proof is by reading testimonials from clients who have tried the service and been more than satisfied with the results.

A great training provider will not only provide many such testimonials, it will actively encourage you to make contact with the clients who gave them. That way you know the testimonials are genuine, and you have the opportunity to ask more detailed questions if you like. As well as asking what they did like about the programme, it’s advisable to ask what they felt could have been improved.

A mediocre training company has few if any genuine testimonials

An inadequate training company, by comparison, will have very few testimonials on its website or in its marketing material. If you ask for contact details of the people who left the testimonials, you are likely to be fobbed off. You’ll be left wondering if the company is worried people have changed their minds since giving the testimonials or whether the testimonials are even genuine.


A great Train the Trainer Provider offers bespoke training programmes

After consulting closely with you or carrying out a needs analysis on your behalf, a great training provider will create a programme to suit the needs of your company. It understands that every company is different and has needs that are quite different from comparable companies in the same sector. As a result, you can be sure that the training delivers the information your employees need.

On that point, it’s worth knowing that creating a bespoke programme may take between five and 10 times the length of the delivery, so for example, a one-day course may take anywhere from five to 10 days to create.

I’m used to working with National Occupational Standards, which are the standards we have to teach for the approval process. I know that the best trainers are the ones that can do that but at the same time adapt to meet the needs of the audience.

Sometimes organisations contact us and say, “We’re not bothered about ILM accreditation, but we want you to talk about this” and we are able to adapt and deliver.

It’s important that a training provider offers training that is job specific. If the content is not relevant, there is a very real risk that learners will not see the relevance of the examples they are given. It will be something they regard as theoretical and not something they can use when they get back to their job.

A great trainer should be flexible enough to adapt the course content to suit the needs of the audience on the day. Great trainers understand the subject matter and people. They understand how to deal with people. That’s a key trait for a fantastic training organisation. What tends to happen with many training organisations is that they have a ‘one size fits all’ approach. We change and meet the needs of people and industries. For example, we work with health and social care organisations, and they have different needs to our clients in the oil and gas sector. Again the ability to be able to adapt to meet the needs of organisations in different sectors is key.

A mediocre training company offers the same programme to all

A mediocre training company regardless of whether it has one or many training programmes will be unwilling or unable to adapt any course material to suit your company’s needs. It will take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to training, which as we know, is a huge mistake. After all, even companies within the same sector have different training needs.


A great Train the Trainer Provider caters to all learning preferences

A great training company understands that adults have different learning styles and preferences and designs programmes to cater for each one. For example, at Target Training and Associates, we use the psychological profiling tool, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), as a guide in creating programmes.

The MBTI sorts people into 16 personality types, each with their own strengths, motivations and interests. Each type has its own way of learning and organising information, so it is important that trainers present material in a way to suit them.

A mediocre training company does not cater for different learning styles or needs

An inadequate training company is either unaware of different learning styles or does not care about them. Whatever the case may be, it provides trainers who deliver a learning programme like a lecture and keep class participation to a minimum.


A great Train the Trainer Provider has trainers who engage participants

When you train, you should engage with people. You should know how to engage with different personality types (and that’s where the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator comes in).

You should reason with people rather than just telling them something. For example, a flip chart is at the back of the room – it’s a fantastic piece of kit used by trainers worldwide. But if you write in small letters on the flipchart many people won’t be able to see what it says. So you ask the group, “What do you have to do to ensure people get involved in the training?” Someone from the group will reply, “You make sure you write in large letters.”

You don’t just tell them, “You must write in big letters on the flipchart.” You engage the group; you set the scene, pose a problem and encourage the group to come up with the solution.

That’s the big difference between many trainers. They have never been told or perhaps know the theory of it but don’t apply it.

A mediocre training company has trainers who tell not train

Inadequate trainers stand up in front of a group and lecture them for one hour or many, depending upon the length of the programme. Their questions are likely to be rhetoric because they don’t want to encourage audience participation. They are there to stand and deliver not to listen and engage.

What are some other signs of a poor trainer? Yawning audience members is one big sign. Another is an increasing number of empty chairs as bored trainees take the opportunity to slip away.

Inadequate trainers rely heavily on PowerPoint or slides in their presentations. They just tell people information by reading from a book or a PowerPoint slide. They are usually incapable of controlling timings, so they finish either far ahead or far behind schedule. Coffee and lunch breaks will be delayed as they struggle to keep to the agreed schedule. They may use too many group or one-on-one exercises to mask the fact they don’t have enough material or enough experience to manage large group interactions. They might overload participants with handouts or they might have nothing to share and instead tell people to take their own notes.


A great Train the Trainer Provider has highly motivated, passionate trainers

A great training company is one that cares passionately about training and development. Naturally enough, it attracts and works with trainers who are equally passionate about training.

In such an environment, continuing professional development (CPD) is a given. At Target Training and Associates, CPD is essential for anyone providing training. Trainers need to be up to date with the latest information. We insist that anyone who trains people on our behalf attends regular CPD. It would be no good us talking about the benefits of CPD if we didn’t also practice it ourselves.

That’s why we would never work with anyone who appeared half-hearted about training. We only ever work with highly-motivated people who are passionate about training others.

A mediocre training company has trainers who just tick boxes

I’m sure most trainers never set out to clock-watch or ‘go through the motions’ but unfortunately, there are some trainers who have ended up in that situation. They give the impression they are there by sufferance. Someone has given them a list to cover and their only motivation is to put a tick in each box.

Participating in such a programme is less about learning than it is about endurance. It is a miserable experience for trainer and trainees alike.


A great Train the Trainer Provider offers follow up

A great training company understands the nature of learning. It knows that without active reinforcement people forget the information they have learnt and are therefore unlikely to transfer what they learnt into their job.

One of the first people to study the process of forgetting was the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus. He conducted an experiment in which he memorised lists of nonsense three-letter words and then tracked how quickly he forgot the words at different time intervals, ranging from 20 minutes to 31 days.

Ebbinghaus’ results revealed a relationship between the forgetting of learned information over time. He found that a good part of what a person forgets takes place within 20 minutes of the initial learning. Within one hour, a person forgets nearly half of what was originally learned. After 24 hours, almost two thirds of the previously learned material is forgotten. These results are known as the ‘Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve’.

He discovered that it is much harder to retain information that has no meaning for the learner. He also showed that relearning material is easier than the first time and that it takes longer to forget material the second time.

To ensure participants retain and use the information they learnt, great training companies will provide not just more advanced programmes but also free resources that reinforce the learning simply because they want people to achieve the best possible outcome. Participants on our training programmes, for example, receive a regular newsletter with information about the programme content, and we are also happy to provide them with free email consultations.

That’s because we know when people have learned a new set of skills and started to use them, they will have questions that weren't covered in the training. Great trainers are open and available to help you and guide you after the course.

A mediocre training company offers no follow-up

A mediocre training company, by comparison, will insist that programme participants pay not only for their generic advanced programmes but also for ad hoc mentoring or coaching services. They seldom provide free useful resources for past programme participants.


A great Train the Trainer Provider offers the ideal trainer to suit your needs

When you deal with a great training company, you will have the opportunity to meet the person who will be delivering the training or facilitating the learning. You’ll have the opportunity to discover if they fit with your company’s culture. The best trainers understand that while their skills are exceptional, their style may not always fit with a particular company’s culture or needs.

A mediocre training company will assign a trainer regardless of your needs or culture

A mediocre training company might not have a pool of expert trainers to be able to offer prospective clients a choice or they might not care that a particular trainer’s style might be a poor fit for some companies. They will send who is available. The client’s employees are the ones who suffer when that happens.


Great Train the Trainer Providers have expert trainers who can deliver more than content

Outstanding training companies understand that delivering content is not enough and they also need to be able to train beyond the course. That means if a participant needs more information to gain an understanding so they can improve their business skills and efficiency, the trainers have the experience and capability to provide it.

Mediocre companies send trainers who just deliver content

Adequate trainers are trained to deliver content. They are seldom capable of answering questions that are a little out of the scope of the programme, which can leave participants feeling frustrated and dissatisfied.


Great Train the Trainer Providers offer solid guarantees

An outstanding training company will have no problem offering prospective clients an iron-clad guarantee. That’s because they are completely confident in the quality of the service they provide. That means if you are unhappy with the results, they may offer you a 100% money-back guarantee or the offer of a replacement course.

A mediocre training company will not offer a guarantee

A mediocre training company will rarely offer a guarantee because the risk is too high that many dissatisfied clients would take up the offer and demand their money back. That means, if the course is cancelled due to low numbers or for any other reason, you may struggle to get a refund.


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