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What is the Train the Trainer Model and Key Benefits?

November 15, 2022 - Izaskun Olarreaga

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates

Success in business depends on well-orchestrated and purposeful communications systems. Including those designed to support professional learning and development. One of the most common business methods to strategically disseminate new abilities, insights and information, is the ‘Train the Trainer’ model.

Fundamentally, this involves ensuring that your company’s experts and mentors have the attributes, talent and confidence to deliver training to others. It is an important investment in their communications abilities.

For example, you could have a technician who is highly competent in a key process. When you task them with passing on their understanding and ability, you may discover they are able to do that successfully. ‘Teaching’ others requires a special set of skills that don’t always come naturally, even to the brightest and best in your workforce!

How do you train, trainers?

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” – Mark Van Doren.

The ‘Train the Trainer’ model hinges on giving key individuals the ability to deliver learning opportunities to their colleagues. This largely focuses on advanced business communications courses and practice opportunities.

They can’t just ‘tell’ people something. They need to be able to demonstrate things confidently, measure reactions, and inspire others to grow their own abilities.

Therefore, to be a good trainer, you need to work on such things as:

  • Presentation skills
  • Using and reading non-verbal communications
  • Preparing clear and purposeful business written materials
  • Effective communication in both physical and virtual meetings
  • Motivating others
  • Use of emotional intelligence and empathy

Create trainers who ‘care’

That last point – about emotional intelligence – links to this benefit of the ‘Train the Trainer’ model.

Instead of using external trainers to upskill your team, you are empowering your own staff to disseminate learning and development and they could offer you two valuable attributes:

  • (a) A vested interest in making the training successful, to underpin your organisation’s business growth and their importance to your commercial future.
  • (b) Existing understanding of – and affinity with – their colleagues.

Cost and productivity advantages

“If you think education is expensive, try estimating the cost of ignorance.” – Howard Gardner

Empowering your own staff to upskill their colleagues is clearly an excellent way to manage your learning and development budget. For example, you could bring in specialist trainers to work one-to-one with an individual, who then passes on their skills and knowledge to others ‘free of charge’.

Ensuring that abilities and information are shared constantly and consistently throughout your teams also avoids the need for staff to attend courses, disrupting their productivity.

One important financial consideration is the cost of NOT giving your staff access to plentiful learning and development opportunities. Failing to have enough empowered trainers within your organisation could be leaving skill gaps and cracks that are holding you back.

As a side note, by keeping as much of your training process in-house as possible, you make any ‘trade secrets’ more secure, and ensure learning is closely tied to your individual company operations and aims.

Training of trainers model fourweekmba

The five basic elements of the training of trainers model. Learn more: FourWeekMBA

Making learning more agile

“The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity. Usually, growth comes at the expense of previous comfort or safety.” – Josh Waitzkin.

Using the ‘Train the Trainer’ model to support skill and knowledge distribution also speeds up and streamlines learning processes.

When the need arises, you can quickly schedule an appropriate one-to-one or small group training session led by your empowered staff member. If anyone then needs a ‘top up’ and a reminder to embed their new ability or knowledge, the trainer is readily available within your organisation.

Existing empathy and experience with their colleagues may also help a well-trained trainer to be highly responsive. They can better meet the individual needs of the people they are aiming to upskill.

Scalability in workplace learning and development

Once a company decides to invest in the communications abilities of experts and mentors – using the ‘Train the Trainer’ model – they have the potential to create scalable training processes.

For example, if a company is planning to launch a new product range involving a new process, they can enable a small team to learn that process thoroughly, with or without external help. Then, they empower those people to cross-communicate what they have learnt in a measurably effective way.

The same consistent skills and knowledge can be passed to large numbers of staff, in a series of group sessions. New employees can also be taught the process as part of their onboarding training.

Investing in people increases job satisfaction

Never underestimate the value of providing your workforce with a constant flow of learning and development opportunities. Including providing your team of valuable experts and mentors with new skills, to grow their own roles and responsibilities.

A study by LinkedIn found that 94% of employees would be more loyal to their employer if they were provided with sufficient personal and professional learning opportunities and resources.

That same report concluded that: “Manager involvement is a critical ingredient to increase employee engagement with learning.” This reinforces the need to invest in management communications skills, to enable them to be actively involved in training delivery.

Alongside improved staff retention, you may also find it easier to recruit new staff if you can demonstrate an ongoing commitment to creating your own instructors, coaches and mentors, and delivering meaningful on-the-job training.

Disadvantages of the ‘Train the Trainer’ Model

There is a possibility that your staff will be more open to learning from their colleagues, rather than an impartial advisor. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, bringing in external expertise increases respect, attention and information retention.

That makes it essential to use the ‘Train the Trainer’ model to enhance the skills of team members who are already genuinely well-respected, and authentic experts in their field.

This strategic system for disseminating skills and knowledge also relies on you having a clear learning and development strategy. Including identifying people with the desired level of expertise, who you can then enable and empower to cascade their abilities and understanding to others.

Your learning and development strategy must include robust checks and measures, to ensure it is working – and working well.

Also, it’s worth emphasising that your organisation must invest in the skills needed to be a good trainer. As well as providing plenty of opportunities for those key people to practice and ‘fine tune’ their new presentation and training delivery skills.

That takes time and foresight, and a working relationship with us.