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Trainer Skills and Qualities


Trainers need to constantly refresh and extend their repertoire of skills. But an essential start point is to understand exactly what those skills and qualities look like. You can refer to the UK National Standards in T&D - great if you have trouble sleeping at nights! Unfortunately these Standards don't offer an easily accessible checklist.

The following list reflects many of the skills and qualities needed by trainers, not in an exhaustive way but as markers to map out the territory.

Role skills:

Presentation - structuring and communicating ideas, using visual aids

Facilitation - managing activities, eliciting contributions and learning

One-to-one - coaching, counselling, mentoring, advising, assessing

Consultancy - investigating, diagnosing, advising, evaluating, partnering

Trouble-shooter - insightful, innovative, dogged, a skilful rebel

Design - designing courses, materials, activities, opportunities, e-literate

Personal skills & qualities:

Communication - listening, questioning, explaining, giving feedback

Interpersonal - building relationships, sensitivity, handling conflict

Assertiveness - confidence, challenging and supporting, negotiating

Flexibility - responsive, creative, adaptable, manage change

Expertise - knowledgeable, experienced, insightful, up to date

Organisational skills:

Team working - egalitarian, supportive, dependable, collaborative

Self-management - managing stress, time and work, self starting, learning

Influencing - instigating and driving change, winning support

Strategic - co-ordinating, planning, leadership, linking, thinking

Problem solving - getting things done, working with operational difficulties

Business - financial, marketing, customer care, managing information.

From talking to other trainers it seems that it is the demands of the role that, understandably, drives our early development. But our continuing development is often more a product of our interests and ambitions. Few appear to use any form of framework to help them diagnose how they can grow their professional expertise.

I would be the first to admit that bullet point lists have their limitations. But what they are good at is giving a quick glimpse at what might be involved 'beyond the event'. That has to be helpful if we are to be as effective in our own learning as we expect others to be with theirs.
Graham O'Connell


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