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Performing as part of a multiple trainer team

April 10, 2008

This multiple-trainer scenario can be the most challenging to keep efficient and at it’s most effective. It usually works as a “shotgun approach” simply because statistically there is a greater chance that the student will derive benefit from one (or more) of the trainers there is usually the opportunity for more training to be conducted. Statistically there is also a greater chance of something going wrong.

The main problems that arise are;

  • competing training styles,
  • standarisation issues,
  • repetition of content, and
  • content not covered or adequately practised.

Overcoming problems with multiple trainer teams

Once again the key elements are planning, coordination and communication. The strategies outlined in the three previous posts (taking over, handing over and covering for a trainer) will assist maintaining a team cohesive environment. There are a few additional actions that will be necessary. These are;

Appoint a leader: This doesn’t need to be the most senior or experienced person in the team although that would help keep the team ‘all pulling in the same direction’. The best person for the job is the most attentive to detail or process driven member in the team. They will need to motivate (or enforce) the team to adopt and maintain the behaviours that promote efficiency and effectiveness. This person will take responsibility for the background administration (responsibility doesn’t mean they’ll do it themselves) and standardisation issues associated with the training process including ensuring that all reporting is completed and submitted within the appropriate time frames.

Everybody pre-briefs and debriefs: Each trainer conducts a pre-training brief and a post training debrief after each session or day as appropriate. You cannot cover for another trainer in this aspect and you shouldn’t skip these just to get another 30 minutes of training. This will take coordination with your other team members so as to work together and avoid over tasking the student with remedial activities.

Everybody reports: At the end of each week (or specified training period), each trainer submits a training report regardless of the amount of training conducted in that period. In fact, even if no training was conducted, you should still submit a training report stating that fact and any circumstances that may have contributed to it. You are documenting the training and by do this, training management can identify for which training periods that you were not involved in training (as opposed to forgetting to report on training).

Complete a hand-over card at the end of each session: Each trainer completes hand-over form (such as a SCORE card) for the next trainer to review for their session. This is vital if an actual handover is not available and it will assist the process greatly if there is one. If there are more than two trainers, review all of their cards to spot trends and coordinate you attacks with theirs.

Meet daily: Get together with the other trainers daily to discuss aspects of the training and the student’s progress. Obviously if no training was conducted, a meeting is not necessary but if any training at all was conducted, all of the trainers meet, even those that didn’t actively train on that day. The more you collaborate and coordinate your efforts, the greater the combined result will be.

Meet regularly with student: Get together with the student to clarify any standardisation issues or training methodology discrepancies. How regularly will depend on the length and type of training. Some environments are standards driven, whilst others are based on individual perspectives and may need constant review to identify best practices. This is where the trainers discuss issues that the student is finding as either conflicting or unclear and come to an agreement on removing the ambiguity. Failing to do so is a two way lose because the student has to demonstrate to two performance standards (and if one is clearly wrong, may have moral dilemmas as well). There is no such thing as agreeing to disagree in this matter and if necessary, this meeting can be used to identify those items that need to be submitted to a higher authority for resolution.

Follow the plan: The plan is there for a reason – to coordinate your training efforts. If something is missed during training or time is wasted on ground already gained, it is usually because one or more of the trainers deviated from the the plan. The lead trainer is the person who coordinates any cross activity (lessons of opportunity for example) and any deviation from the training plan is to be notified to them immediately after training.

Conclusion

Using a team of trainers can be very beneficial to the student by having access to a wider range of skills, knowledge and perspectives of the workplace. Additionally, more training can be conducted and things like trainer absences or availabilities are more easily overcome. The drawback is that additional coordination and communication between the trainers is required to avoid them competing and degrading the benefits of their collaboration. However, with leadership and the adoption of some effective techniques, the combined efforts of the training team will far exceed the sum of the individual contributions.

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