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Taking over training

April 6, 2008

The first scenario involves a trainer taking over the responsibility for training a student for a significant period of training. What constitutes a ‘significant period’ will vary with circumstances the length of the planned training etc). For this situation we are considering it to mean either a permanent change, where the previous trainer is not expected to contribute further, or for a period of at least a few weeks where the new trainer may have to adjust the training plan significantly.

Changing trainers part way through training will always incur a transition period of reduced training effectiveness as the new relationship forms. The length will vary depending on the persons involved and in particular, the circumstances that necessitate the change.

Why did the change occur?

The reason behind the change in trainers will affect the student and their receptiveness to the new situation. There are three main circumstances that will have driven the change;

  • The student has progressed to a new stage of training (graduation)
  • The initial trainer is no longer available (secondment)
  • The initial student/trainer combination was ineffective (replacement)

Graduation is the best circumstances that an oncoming trainer can hope to encounter. The student comes to you with known achievements and has at least established a minimum level of competency that you can build on. In addition, the student is usually confident and has an amicable relationship with the previous trainer.

During secondment, your greatest concern is uncertainty. The student may be apprehensive about the new relationship and may not actually want the burden of forming a new one. Additionally, the outgoing trainer may not be available for a comprehensive hand over and at the least, is distracted by their new priorities (otherwise they would continue with the training).

In a trainer replacement, the situation is mixed blessing. The positive is that the student is looking forward to a change in trainers, even if it was a very amicable parting with the previous one (nobody likes failing, even in good company). The drawback is that the previous relationship may have failed. The trainer may have misread the student and the student’s confidence is usually suffering from lack of progress.

My actions

The trainer certainly has a significant part to play in the impact the change has on progress. How they act can mean the difference between a slight hiccup or having to re-start at the beginning. The circumstances will dictate how these actions are implemented and in some cases may seem obvious, but none should be overlooked.

The trainer has two objectives; resume the training as soon as possible and build the relationship. To do this, the trainer must;

  • Take the lead: As the oncoming trainer, it is now your responsibility to pick up the pieces and take control of the training. By all means accept any assistance from the student and the previous trainer but remember that the buck stops with you. This is not technically an action but the first step you must take is to accept this responsibility.
  • Review existing documentation: review the current training plan first to see what should have already been achieved and what should be outstanding (I say should because it may be well out of date). Then move through all training reports to identify what has been achieved, what strategies have been applied, what worked, what did not and what remedial actions were prescribed.
  • Coordinate with the previous trainer: Meet with the previous trainer to discuss the student. Set this meeting up with this one sole purpose. It is not a casual chat – it is a formal handover that will be documented and submitted with the rest of the training reports. Sure you can keep some things off the record if they are assumptions or the like, but if it affects the student’s ability to be trained, it goes on the report.
  • Plan: Armed with this information you can now develop a training plan. You may need to consult with other agencies to account for some of the unknowns like available resources. Don’t assume that it has remain unchanged since the previous plan was implemented – the workplace has changed just by shuffling a few trainers around.
  • Communicate: Meet with he student and discuss the plan. That may mean changing it to meet student needs, but that is perfectly acceptable if it instils ownership upon them. This is a joint effort and collaboration is essential in building the new relationship, especially if the previous one soured.

This is just the beginning and additional actions may be necessary when all of the circumstances are taken into consideration. These as just the minimum steps necessary and if there is anything you can do to improve the relationship or resume effective training more quickly without harm to the other, then you should seriously consider it. Additionally, some of these are entire topics in themselves but rest assured, they’ll be covered in later posts.

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