Learning and development specialists and trainers devote their professional lives to helping employees develop relevant workplace skills. But here’s the rub: they’re so busy training and advocating for their co-workers that they may neglect their own development.
If you’re a seasoned trainer seeking to expand your trainer skill set by developing new skills and abilities, or a newbie preparing for a career as a trainer, what do you need to know? What are the skills of a good trainer?
What’s in Your Training Toolbox?
Here are ten essential skills and training tools that should be part of any training toolkit.
7 Essential Skills for Trainers:
- Technology Skills
While it helps to have some background in technology, trainers don’t need to be programmers. But given the intersection between training and technology, the more technologically savvy you are, the easier time you will have.
The basics include knowing your way around apps, Software as a Service (SaaS) products, authoring tools, social media integrations, learning management systems (LMS), video conferencing, and collaboration tools.
- Communication Skills
Trainers who are effective communicators can connect with their audience, make the complex easy, ask probing questions, elaborate on concepts, and provide feedback.
If you have trouble explaining concepts in accessible language or connecting with an audience, you’ll want to brush up on your communication skills. If not addressed, ineffective communication can interfere with an employee’s learning experience. As more employees work from home, communication skills become even more critical.
- Flexibility and Adaptability
This is one of the essential skills for all employees to possess, but especially today’s trainers. These professionals must be prepared and equipped to respond to the ever-changing needs of their internal and external customers, who need what they need NOW. To be effective in this exciting but chaotic world, trainers must learn to adapt, quickly shift gears, and wear many hats (Read more on agile learning.)
- Analytics and Assessment
While they don’t need to be statisticians, today’s trainers must know their way around data and analytics and should be well-versed in evaluation methods.
Evaluation occurs at an individual and program level. At the micro-level, you need to monitor and assess how each learner is performing and progressing. The good news is that today’s technology – read: LMS – makes it easy to create, administer, and evaluate quizzes and tests. While tests and quizzes give trainers a street-level perspective into the program, you also need a macro-level standpoint in order to justify and sustain your budget. In other words, you need to show management that key objectives are being met and demonstrate ROI. A basic understanding of data may be enough, but trainers and L&D specialists who can speak the language of analytics will have an advantage.
- Enthusiasm and Curiosity for Learning
Enthusiasm is contagious, but it can be a challenge to sustain over a long period of time. To maintain your enthusiasm, be empathetic and try to get inside your employees’ shoes. The more you can see things from their perspective, the more effective you will be as a trainer. Be intellectually curious and curious about the people you serve. Embrace lifelong learning and continuous learning.
- Business Acumen
To ensure training is relevant and advances the company’s business and strategic goals, trainers must have business acumen; they have to really understand the organizational and individual challenges that leaders face in their organization. Who are their core customers, key market segments, and financial goals? Trainers who can speak the language of business and demonstrate this knowledge will earn the respect of leadership; those who don’t may find it difficult to get others to support and sustain their training program over the long-term.
Review your organization’s strategic plan or annual report, and always keep its goals top-of-mind. Ensure that all learning and development activities align with and drive business outcomes. Learn to partner with your company, so you are aware of the problems and can offer strategic solutions that deliver results.
By positioning what you do as a solution to a specific business problem, you can gain management’s ear. Being not just training savvy but also business savvy will earn you the respect of your co-workers, especially upper management, and position you as a leader in your company.
- Listening Skills
Real listening is listening with the intent to understand what another person is trying to say. Authentic listening is not asking an employee about her career goals, then zoning out as she opens up. It’s not nodding agreeably while thinking about what you’re going to say next.
3 Essential Training Tools:
Learning new training skills can’t be beaten. But in the final analysis, it’s all about applying them. Fortunately, there are a number of nifty, user-friendly tools and technologies that supercharge and simplify how trainers train and learners learn. What are the training tools you need to know about? Here are three essential training tools that bring our list to 10:
- Authoring Tools
A software-based platform, an authoring tool enables instructional designers to create eLearning content for their company that is immersive and engaging. It can be desktop-based or cloud-based, simple, or with all the bells and whistles. An authoring tool is a training development tool that can be deployed as standalone software or within an LMS (learning management system).
- Video Editing Tools
Video editing software is increasingly regarded as an essential tool for trainers and learning specialists. Making videos, of course, has historically played an indispensable role in training. New technologies, however, have made creating and sharing training videos so easy that companies can do it themselves in-house. Practically anyone can do it, though getting good at video editing requires practice, and lots of it. Note that some authoring tools include video-editing capabilities.
- Social Learning Tools
Optimal learning occurs when your employees collaborate with co-workers. Social learning and collaborative learning can be facilitated by a number of online tools, like discussion groups, forums, social media, and gamified elements, which are either built-in to a learning management system or easily integrated.
Takeaways for Trainers
Summing things up: today’s trainers and instructors need to develop good communication and listening skills, demonstrate the ability to align training with business goals, know how to evaluate employees and analyze data, and possess a comfort level with technology and online training tools.
You have the training skills, and World Manager has the training tools and technology— not to mention over a decade of experience deploying the World Manager LMS to supercharge and streamline how companies create and administer employee training. Let’s work together.