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Trainer’s Stress



I am looking for some help for a research project into the field surrounding the question: "What are the psychological affects of training on trainers?"

In particular I am interested in the stress involved in training (as opposed to just 'presenting').

There seems to be little (if any) original research in this area (plenty on psychology of training!) and I am wondering if anyone has come accross or are aware of any research/data that I might be able to access?

I would also be ever so grateful to hear from anyone interested in helping out my research by 'volunteering' to take part in a survey. This is likley to take the form of a questionnaire and will be anonymous (unless permission is otherwise given!).

Thank you for taking the time to read this I am looking forward to any offers of assistance or guidence that you might care to offer!


Paul Hollands

29 Responses

  1. Sources of Stress for Trainers
    In our studies on stress and pressure in the workplace we have identified that trainers are frequently under stress from a variety of sources.

    In brief:

    Some independant trainers take on jobs that they are ill-equipped to deal with, having little or no experience in the subject they are delivering and, as a result, scrabble around for resources then spend the session hoping that no-one asks a question that is ‘off script’.

    Others are placed in positions of stress by their employers assigning them to deal with subjects, that they are unfamiliar with, at the last minute to cover for sickness or other absences.

    Stress can also be caused by being faced with a hostile audience – usually employees of a single organisation with the hostility arising because the employer has failed to make the relevance of the training clear to the workforce.

    Failing equipment and poor resources can also contribute.

    I’m not a subject for your survey, but I hope my comments will generate a few anecdotal responses.

  2. Questionnaire
    I should have pointed out that I do not expect to have the questionnaire ready until Jan, many thanks!

  3. Stress – tell me about it!
    Feel free to mail me with the questionnaire – but in the meantime:

    Agreeing with the previous person and his reasons trainers get under stress – below some of mine:

    Timescales inappropriate (to prepare and organise):
    Hostile audience due to the Resistance to change factor:
    Hostile audience with New software cumbersome and not really “ready to roll” (someone else’s preparation):
    Any new course – prep as much as you like, you’ll never know what they definitely will ask until after this course!
    Good luck!

  4. Stress trainers stress?
    Thanks to Lynn Wood for advising me of your request – happy to be part of the questioned group.

    I run training courses in Stress Management – can they be stressful – YOU BET – in fact, I’d be worried if they were stress free – as I utilise ‘stress’ as a driver rater than perceive it as something that can damage and demotivate. Of course, I’m strange, so what works for me may not be a ‘Universal Truth’.

  5. But trainers don’t get stressed!?
    I’d be happy to complete your questionnaire Paul, especially as I’ve recently found myself in the middle of a debate along the lines of “trainers don’t get stressed”! Perhaps we’re too good at hiding it…

    Good luck with this.
    [email protected]

  6. OK I’ll play
    I am happy to be a respondent of your questionnaire when you are ready.
    I would add a major source of stress to the other comments; travelling….I believe that many organisations using consltants are oblivious to (in reality it isn’t their problem) the stress on a trainer of travelling 115 miles to deliver a two day course.

  7. mixed learner motivation equals stress
    I can identify with all previous comments and think this is an interesting area to research. Quite challenging to draw definitive conclusions though, because of the infinite variables at work in training. My stress comes from coping with mixed degrees of learner interest/motivation, it gets exhausting finding the right balance of energy/pace perspective/detail throughout an event and not knowing if any delegate really absorbs and uses any of it!

  8. Trainer Stress
    Hi Paul

    have a look at Alison Hardingham’s “Psychology for Trainers” (ISBN 0-85292-681-2. Chapter 9 (Surviving as a Trainer) makes some concise and convincing points about trainer stress.


    Phil Wheeliker

  9. I’ll complete your questionnaire
    Please feel free to send me your questionnaire when ready.

  10. Stress from the Group
    Hi Paul
    You can send me a questionnaire when you are ready!
    As a freelance trainer, some of the things I find *quite* stressful is delivering the same material frequently. I would have a lot of beginners’ groups and find the almost endless repetition pretty stressful at times. You also have to radiate calmness and patience all the time as well which (quite often) is not how you feel. Another stressor is when you have emphasised doing/not doing something to find learners doing/not doing just that….and acting as if they had never actually heard you at all.
    I love it when I get people who ask off-topic questions as it usually makes it more interesting for me. I enjoy training when I am working with strong Intermediate/Advanced groups.

  11. Stress questionnaire
    I would be happy to complete your questionnaire when you have it ready.

  12. Stress Factors in Training
    I went through an illness and I am a trainer.
    This was the one and only time I have found training to be stressful.
    Much of training is about having the ability to perform. It is very difficult to perform when you are not 100%. The illness I had caused me to have zero confidence, which trainers need to have.
    My point is – Training is one of the most difficult jobs to do if you are not firing on all cylinders.

  13. Trainer Stress
    Hi! I too suffer from trainer stress. What effects me most is working within a call centre environment in an organisation that is constantly undergoing restructure and change. Training material is supplied last minute and is not always technically correct. It is upsetting to realise that I am bluffing my way through things, and am unable to deliver the best quality training through no fault of my own. I’m in a position also where my colleagues and I are always fighting for cross purposes…this can cause considerable conflict. I also train the same 6 week induction course almost back to back. It does get very tiring answering the same questions on the same information over and over…then just when you get one group up to the required standard you have to start over with fresh minds and repeat the whole experience. I also don’t find business policies and processes terribly challenging or interesting to deliver.

    I am happy to participate in your survey.

  14. Add me to the list

    Include me on the list as well. I felt quite cheered up when I read all of the comments knowing that other people have experienced the same stresses.

    This week I have travelled three and one half hours by plane from one side of Australia to train a new sales team to use an unpopular software package.

    I feel lucky that this group was receptive and appreciative but as the the only trainer for 800 users, I usually find the loneliness when travelling a real stress.

    There are no other trainers in our organisation that are willing to share ideas (like this great website).

    It is also stressful when you train an IT illiterate, new user and you audit that user later in the year and discover she has not used the package. Consequently has not remembered anything despite eight separate one on one training sessions, a training manual, training notes and constant calls to my mobile phone.

    The most unusual stress I was put under in a public meeting last year was when I was asked to justify why the software was chosen, from the person who chose the package with a team of four others!! Figure that one out.


  15. Send me a questionnaire
    Glad to see it’s not just me. The usual comment I get is ‘you made it look so easy’ – if only they knew.

  16. Isolotated trainers stress out!
    On the whole trainers work in isolation, they are given courses to develop (unpaid) and expected to deliver them quickly; and in FE colleges only paid whilst teaching/training and no holiday pay. This I feel gives us Stress as there is usually no team spirit to support the trainer and we don’t take holidays as not paid. I recently moved from the negative job to a job I am paid to delevop and deliver and given support – result far less stress, but then we find other stress don’t we….

  17. Perception and reality
    Isn’t it all in the eye of the beholder? Many contributors have listed problems and grumbles,doesn’t one have the element of choice in how one reacts to these events. Problems and grumbles are trigger agents, stress is controllable and one can always walk away, change direction or say no, frames of mind and physical strain are both alterable.

    The glass is both half full and half empty, you chose how you see it.

    Then again too many metaphors give me a headache….

  18. Perception

    I think that you may have missed the point of Paul’s request. (Or are you playing the ‘devil’s advocate’?)

    “In particular I am interested in the stress involved in training..”, not how we cope with the stress.

    Most of us cope with the stress of being trainers and yes in some instances we have the choice to change those stresses, however if Paul’s research can highlight other strategies, then most trainers will take note.

    Most trainers do not grumble about the stresses in the public arena because it is not professional to do so, whereas on a website like trainingzone I need to read that other trainers have encountered the same stresses. I have no other colleagues who can share strategies to counteract these stresses.

    What I have deduced from the previous comments is that training stresses are invisible to managers/ co-workers/ trainees and if you do not highlight what those stresses are, as a group, then little can be done to change those stresses. If there was research that highlighted those stresses then that information could be utilised by the trainer’s management team to change the stress factors.

    Unfortunately, from my experience, unless you can prove it, no one will assist you in making the changes. As Paul has noted, there is little research to be found on this topic.

  19. Stress
    Paul Winbanks talks a lot of sense. In our surveys of trainers both in house and in training companies we are measuring stress that may cause early leaving or even illness.

    A lot of trainers ‘perform’ and therefore do not show their stress to colleagues or employers. This causes particular issues when a trainer suffers extreme stress and goes off sick, as the employer is unaware of the ‘build up’ time. Often the first indication of extreme stress suffering is the production of a sick note.

    Our business is managing risk to staff, as it is the most precious resource a business invests in. That means looking at stress levels in the organisation and the individual’s responses and coping mechanisms.

    One contributor below indicated that she felt it was very hard to train if you were not going on all cylinders, how many of us are day in day out?

    A financial, domestic problem may wipe out our normal coping mechanisms and render us unable to cope for just a short time. Employers need to recognise and support employees through those times if they are to retain them long term.

    By offering low cost counselling options,measuring effect on business and dealing with procedures and policies deal with stress most employers will work hard to amend exisiting stressful working practices.

    Ultimately the cost of not doing so is just too high a social, business and personal price to pay.

    Lime One Ltd
    0870 240 4325

  20. I would be willing to complete the questionairre.
    I have been training for over thirty years in different companies. I would be willing to complete the questionairre.

  21. Stress, not Pressure
    I know this isn’t the forum for it, but I have to reply to Robert’s comment regarding stress as a driver.

    Pressure is a driver, stress is a destructive condition that reduces mental functionality. Ergo, if you try to train when you are truly stressed, you will fail to deliver your best (and will be aware of that and become more stressed). To propose that stress can be a driver is dangerous.

    Of course, anyone who deals with stress management will know this already, but some readers may not.

  22. Stress Questionnaire
    I would be very happy to complete this questionnaire when you have it ready in January

  23. Volunteer
    I would be willing to help with your questionnaire and may be able to pass it on to other trainers I know too.

    Please include me in your survey. Being a lone trainer in a small / medium size company it was helpful reading other people’s comments. I was able to identfy with many of them e.g. travel, hosilte audience, delivering other people’s material etc.

    I enjoy the buzz when I get it right with a participative group but it doesn’t stop me from shaking and feeling sick just before I start.

    May be your right, we are too good at hiding how we are really feeling and coping untill it’s too big for us to deal with.


  25. willing to help
    Hi Paul,
    This reply may be a bit late , but please count me in on your survey. I will be willing to help as I work for a large training orgainisation , with material changing on an often daily basis with a unappreciative manager.It would be interesting to be able to evaluate the level of stress a trainer is under to deliver the ‘perfect training product’

    Julie Ryland.

  26. I’d be happy to help
    I will be happy to fill out your questionnaire re trainer’s stress.

    Please count me in!


  27. Trainer Stress
    I would be happy to take part in a survey – I left my last job due to stress: driving from one part of the country to another running courses everyday for weeks on end, getting completely burnt out. Also, not having breaks regularly can cause it, not just the delegates in the room!

    Sarah Phillips

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