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Why "Training the Trainer" Isn't Enough

Being a frontline manager doesn't automatically make someone a good coach - empower them to with the right resources and skills to train their teams effectively.

There’s a term that’s thrown around pretty often that can be misleading. You’ve probably heard it before, especially if you’re in a sales management or leadership role.

“Train The Trainer”.

This typically refers to training leaders on a new concept, skill, or behavior before their teams. That way they’ll be able to digest the content, prepare for questions or concerns, and reinforce the concepts. What’s so bad about that?

The problem isn’t in preparing leaders first, but rather in the unrealistic expectations we place upon them after one of these sessions - thinking that they’ll intuitively be able to effectively train and coach on what they’ve learned.

Training How To Train

Managers will then not only understand the material being taught, but also step beyond “train the trainer”. Instead, we need to “Train The Trainer How to Train” (try saying that ten times fast).

Managers will then not only understand the material being taught, but also how to train and reinforce this with their teams.

The Training Framework

So if you find yourself in a situation where you need to teach a skill, here is a repeatable formula on how to teach specific skills or behaviors AND how to make them stick.

TEACH - explain what the skill or behavior is and why it is important. Break it down into digestible parts and ask questions to confirm understanding.

DEMONSTRATE - whether by roleplay, video/audio example, or another medium show the individual or team what that skill or behavior looks like when done properly. Tip: Practice this one beforehand, and don’t be surprised if it takes you a few tries to get it right!

PRACTICE - through roleplay or some other means give the individual or team a chance to practice the concept or skill several times. This is a time when messing up is expected and sometimes even encouraged as people figure out how to execute. Throughout practice , ask questions about what is working and what isn’t, and give feedback and guidance regularly.

ASSESS - we sometimes think of the word “assessment” as a scary term (thank you modern education system), but really it is just a mechanism to confirm how much the learner has mastered a concept, and where there is still learning and coaching needed. When you assess, measure against a fixed standard of the skill or behavior so everyone knows what’s expected and what good looks like.

REPEAT - where there is lack of understanding, go back to the first step and re-teach anything that the learner isn’t getting. Then demonstrate, practice, and assess again. And again. And again.

If you’re a leader, team lead, mentor, enablement practitioner, or a rep teaching a best practice to your peers - try this framework. Use it in 1:1’s, team meetings - any time where you find yourself having to teach a skill or behavior. If you do, you’ll have a simple yet effective approach to training regardless of what you’re teaching.

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