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Trainer’s tip: If the boot fits…

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How do you know that you are suited to a job in training? And what has helped the most in your career? That was a question posed by Jessica Chace on our Any Answers forum. Here's what our trainers had to say about the world's best job.


Andrew Miller enthusiastically replied:

Congratulations in taking the step into the worlds best role!

The skill I have found most useful (if you can call it a skill) is being passionate about what you deliver, really believing in the material and getting the message across. I started my career in L&D over 20 years ago now as a physical training instructor for the British Army and have moved on so much since then to delivery of high-end leadership, management and project management programmes.

The one thing that really helped me make the link from being passionate to being good on a technical level is the CIPD certificate in training practise (CTP). I already knew how to do the delivery, design etc but this course really gave me the technical and theoretical background. It can be expensive, however, I do believe it is excellent. So much in fact that I have paid for my sister to go through this – and she is in the same boat as yourself really. You can go via the CIPD website for these courses or look at alternative providers or maybe your local college does them? (Prices range from expensive to cheap in that order.)

You could also try looking at a range of train the trainer courses (much cheaper option) that cover all of what the CTP does, albeit over two or three days and not in so much theory. My own company runs these (www.rubus-consultants.co.uk) or www.trainthetraineruk.co.uk Alternatively you could have a look on TrainerBase – www.trainerbase.co.uk. This website is dedicated to professional L&D people and has a wide range of sample material and open programmes etc that you can search through.

Nick Hindley posed some interesting questions of his own:

Your initial approach to this life-changing decision is a good one so I will address each of your questions.

How do you know that you are suited to this job?
If you are already talking about the possibility with your manager the best way is to do some training. You say you enjoy teaching so may be you have already started. Try to get involved in different courses and cover a range of skills from hard skills such as planning to soft skills like communication.

If the opportunities at work are limited try looking outside of work at the voluntary sector. They will always welcome enthusiastic people and will often provide training.

You will know if this role is for you when things don't go so well, maybe some technology fails, you have a troublesome person to manage or you make a mistake and set people off on the wrong exercise. When some of these have happened you will know how you react to them and if you cope well there is a good chance you will thrive.

A simple exercise used in career counselling is to draw up a balance sheet of the things you like about a role on one side and the things you dislike on the other. If you have a healthy positive list and a short negative list this may be a good sign.

When looking at a new role you must make up the initial list based on your perceptions and views of those you know. As you learn more you can verify your lists.

What types of skills do you find are needed in this job?
Watching and listening will get you a long way.

What has helped most in your training career?
The key for me was realising that the focus for my energy and attention should be with the delegates and how they are doing and not with me and how I am doing.

Derek Hughes points out that teaching and training are not the same:

I think you will only know if this is what you want by doing it. So get as many opportunities as you can to speak in front of groups and help others learn.

This brings me to my second point - a successful and effective trainer is one who is a passionate about enabling people to learn (rather than being passionate about 'teaching').

Surprisingly enough these are not the same. I think the key skills needed are an ability to build rapport with strangers and enable them to feel safe and relaxed in a training environment and a willingness to learn yourself.

I agree that the CTP or a train the trainer course would help you a lot. Alternatively there are a lot of good books out there.

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