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The role of the trainer

April 1, 2008

In a recent post I spoke of the change to the trainer’s role that would be necessary to maintain the relationship with the student beyond the completion of training. Which leads us to an interesting point – what is the trainer’s role during training?

The trainer may be considered a teacher of sorts because of their need to transfer knowledge to the student. This is certainly true some of the time but it isn’t the only role that they will need to fulfil during the training. The trainer will also need to be an assessor to identify shortcomings, a reporter to pass on their findings and a motivator to help focus the student on the task at hand. It doesn’t stop there; what about a shoulder to cry on or someone to pass on remedial advice?

The many faces of a trainer

A trainer will need to fulfil a variety of roles to meet the students needs. The best descriptor I have heard is catalyst – which by definition is something that speeds up a reaction without being consumed in the process. The trainer plays a similar role and will need to adjust according to the demands of the relationship.

These are just some of the roles a trainer will adopt during the course of training

  • The fixer is a pure problem solver. The student has a problem and they need a solution.
  • The facilitator assist the student in gaining knowledge through leading questions or progressive learning strategies.
  • The coach provides advice on improvements and offers remedial actions.
  • The motivator provides incentive or inspiration for the student.
  • The director shows the student what to do or what to focus on next and leads them through the process.
  • The assessor primarily observes and scores or critiques performance, identifying strengths and weaknesses.
  • The supporter is an ear or shoulder to cry on and gives words of encouragement or reinforcement.
  • The reporter is the link back up the chain, passing on any comments, concerns and recommendations.
  • At the other end of this scale is the spokesperson. They pass on company stance or polices.
  • The judge in this sense is a sentence giver and enforces the penalties for failures or offers reward for the successes.
  • The peer recognises that the student is a co-worker and fosters general teamwork and camaraderie.
  • The presenter is the teacher or demonstrator and leads by example to show the student how it is done
  • The story teller relates what they are doing, or are about to do, with experience or practical examples.

There are many more available and each trainer will have there strengths and weaknesses. They will also have their preferences but they must remember that it is the student that dictates what role they will need to assume. The trainer will therefore need to be able to recognise what is required, when to apply it and be able to respond accordingly.

If the trainer is unable to fulfil these roles, the relationship will suffer and this is the critical factor in their ability to communicate openly and effectively. Once communication suffers, then so does their ability as a catalyst.

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