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Case Study: Train the Trainer in Action


Shopping channel QVC UK, uses a system called Action Learning – learning by doing through on-the-job development. When Claire Ward and Paul Butler both transferred to QVC's training department in October 2003 they were tasked through developing their own train the trainer programme as part of this approach.

New recruits to the QVC training department need to be taught how to deliver effective training to their colleagues – through ‘train the trainer’ courses – exploring training techniques and methodologies, which can then be translated into the subject matter of whatever department they are training, from the call centre through to distribution.

Through Action Learning Claire and Paul were able to develop their own train the trainer course internally rather than attending an external course. They were charged with developing the course over three months and then delivering the course to Peter Cureton, a CIPD national examiner, and other specialists for assessment.

This was “a new form of training for the training department” commented Peter and the associated challenges of introducing a completely new practice would need to be overcome as well.

In Action
Claire and Paul had the support of experienced members of the QVC training department, including senior trainers Lee Farley and Andrew Smither, and Sandra Nixon, head of training at QVC.

The programme involved ongoing independent research as well as talking to members of the department and the rest of the company about their views and experiences. Over the three months, weekly meetings with Peter ensured that the direction that they were taking and the format of the course were relevant and coherent.

It was essential that both Claire and Paul apply their own knowledge of QVC and the unique challenges that trainers would face in engaging and informing members of the company to ensure that the course would have maximum impact and relevance for the future. Claire said: “Rather than going into a training company and hearing their ideas, we were able to match what we learnt to QVC’s needs and condense the relevant information into the course.”

Planning and Commitment
Peter Cureton commented that they had not “dumped everything [they] know about training” into the course, but rather had shown “evidence of considerable planning and commitment”.

As a result of their successful training Claire and Paul are now qualified trainers with QVC and to date have trained 142 and 97 new starters respectively. The train the trainer course has also been incorporated into QVC’s training department collateral and used for the five new Development Assistants recruited to the department. Claire and Paul have both been encouraged to go on to design and develop more courses for QVC, continuing their own development.

“Through Action Learning we looked at the reason behind the training and at areas that we would never have considered before, such as how to structure classes, engage the trainees, the preparation and even room conditions” said Paul. “The programme has really helped me to develop myself and it has given me the skills to deliver training in a more confident and comfortable way.”

Peter commented that the course Claire and Paul developed should now be considered a “standard” for “future members of staff who need to conduct training either as a full-time job or because they are a subject matter expert and need to share their knowledge and skills.”


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