5 Ways to Keep Your Trainers Happy — and Create Great Training

Allan Dodson
Posted: October 3, 2019

If you don’t work in training, it can sometimes seem like L&D professionals are never satisfied. Like Columbo in the 70s TV series, they’re always coming back for “just one more thing” as they open up all your systems and ask dozens of awkward questions.

As a professional trainer, I say, “Mea culpa!” We do always want more, but there’s a good reason for our persistence: training is a detail-oriented business. If we don’t pay attention to the little things, the training won’t be as effective. And that’s what we all want, right? Effective training?

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If you’re having trouble grasping what drives the trainers in your organization, take heart! We’ve developed this handy guide to help you better understand what your trainers really want. We aren’t going to talk about obvious things like sufficient budgets and resources. (Most trainers have learned to do more with less anyway). We’re focusing on five things you can do up front to keep your trainers happy, working, and developing great training programs.

#1: Complete Information

You may think you’re making life easier for trainers by giving them just the information you think they need. Why bother them with mountains of irrelevant paperwork? Well, from a trainer’s perspective, we’re much happier if we have everything — and we can determine the relevance of each piece.

I recently developed a program for a large company that involved new processes based on some new government regulations. We took the information we were given and developed what we thought was a great plan. The client liked it, too! And then we talked to legal. We weren’t given access to the legal department upfront, and our conversation with them changed everything. Sometimes developing training is like peeling an onion, pulling back layer after layer. As trainers, we need the entire onion, not just a few slices!

#2: Access

There’s nothing that drives your friendly neighborhood trainer crazier than not having access to the systems and people we need. Sometimes confidentiality comes into play (and we’ll gladly sign an NDA!), but more often it’s a territory issue. It’s simple: If we can’t see it, we can’t teach it.

Systems

You trust me with your people; trust me with your systems! All too often, I’ve found myself taking an entire day of a busy manager’s time so she can operate the system while I take notes and shout, “Can you give me a screenshot of that?” Inevitably, I’ll realize later that I need “one more thing” (see Columbo reference above), so I’ll have to track her down and take up more of her time. It would be so much more efficient to provide system access to your trainers. Don’t worry — we understand the sensitive nature of company systems better than most, and we promise not to break your company.

SMEs

Subject matter experts (SMEs) are the lifeblood of training development. We need them, and you need us to work with them. If you find yourself saying, “Bob knows all about that, but don’t bother Bob unless you absolutely have to,” you’re creating a difficult situation for the trainer. We need to feel comfortable asking SMEs for help, even bugging them when necessary. Choose SMEs wisely (they must be patient people!) and be sure the lines of communication are open.

#3: Responsiveness

It’s a busy world full of busy people! I don’t want to make it sound like the world revolves around trainers, but we really do need quick responses to questions and ideas. Here’s why: Chances are, the training developer knows very little about the subject at the beginning of the project (since he’s probably seeing everything for the first time). What may seem like a very simple question can bring the entire process to a halt until it’s answered.

Bottom line: If you want the training fast, we need answers just as quickly. Rapid responses from SMEs and team members will keep the project’s momentum going and add energy to the final product. And when we have to reach out to people outside the team, we sometimes need someone who will provide a gentle push on our behalf.

Bottom line: If you want the training fast, we need answers just as quickly. Click To Tweet

#4: Patience (Analysis Time)

We know it doesn’t seem like we’re doing anything for the first week or so. You’re not getting any drafts, so you don’t know if we’re working on your project or not, right? We are working on your project! I promise! The analysis phase may seem quiet, but it’s probably the most important part of a training development plan. Allowing sufficient time for analysis is essential. Work with trainers to set a target date for analysis completion and be prepared to be a little flexible.

The best trainers are fast learners, and they have to be. We train on multitudes of systems, processes, and techniques, so we have to become experts in all of them very quickly. If you give your trainers time to become “mini-SMEs,” the end product will be better, and you’ll save time and money down the road when, inevitably, more changes to the process mean another new training initiative.

#5: An Open Mind

Sometimes a trainer will come to you with an idea that seems a little… out there. But we’re not trying to sound crazy — there’s a method to our madness. Adult education is a tricky beast, and it sometimes takes a dose of creativity to penetrate a corporate audience. As trainers, we don’t expect every idea to be embraced, but we do look for a fair hearing. Give ideas a true listen before saying, “Yes, but we’ve always…” You may come across a great idea in that crazy trainer mind!

Who Knows Training?

It’s a common fallacy in our society that training (and teaching) is easy. Just follow a logical path, right? Because we’ve all spent countless hours in classrooms and training programs, we think we know how the education process works. But trainers are, well, trained in pedagogical techniques, adult learning principles, etc. And they know a variety of tools and techniques that can enhance your training efforts.

So really, everything in this article boils down to one simple fact: Trainers know training. And they know it like no one else. Trust us. Give us the tools we need. We’ll make your training sing!


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