April 27, 2007
The Business Manager as Trainer


One of the roles that you would be called upon to perform from time to time as the manager of a business is that of a trainer. Whether you like it or not as manager you are expected to step up and deliver, especially when there is no one else to do it. Yes there are times when you can delegate or hire an outside consultant but there are also the occasions that require you as the manager to handle the task of training your employees to improve their knowledge, skills and attitudes. To be an effective trainer there are some basics that you should know.{{more}}

1. The main purpose of the training. On one hand, training can be done to control and ensure the certainty of the behaviour of employees. On the other hand it can be done to make sure that workers understand the tasks they have to perform and how their attitudes will affect co-workers and the business.

2. What the training needs are that you are trying to meet. Ideally, training needs should be linked to the strategic objectives of the business and not to each individual employee’s need. You may have to assess their knowledge and skills gap to determine the overall training needs of the business. (The gap represents the difference between the employee’s present knowledge and skills and the requirements of his or her current job)

3. You must possess some insight into the process of learning. You must be aware that individuals learn in different ways and hence the training strategies you implement would have to incorporate elements to cater for individual differences. It is more than likely that as the manager you may have the advantage of knowing how your employees learn. If you have been observing them at work you would have little difficulty determining their learning styles. This will help you to employ the most effective methods of training in your training programmes.

4. You have to be sensitive to factors that may hinder employees from learning. You may find among the employees you are training those who are battling to keep up in the training because they have been given too much information and are thus saturated from information overload; those who are too tired to be alert or concentrate because the message is too long or they have reached a learning plateau; those who think they know as much or more than you do; those with low-self esteem and self- confidence; those who think that you believe you are ‘a know-it-all’. Other situations such as hunger, unsuitable temperature, poor teaching/training aids or delivery can affect employees’ ability to learn.

5. The desire to learn comes from within. You can impart knowledge but you cannot make your employees learn. They would learn if they want to and if they are interested in the training. Never forget that adults are responsible for their own learning. However, it is your duty to try and stimulate their interest and do all that you can to facilitate their understanding and absorption of the materials covered in the training. You also have a vested interest to see that they gain as much competence as possible from the training. Make sure that you engage the employees actively in the process and see them as equal partners.

6. You should have the required skills to facilitate the learning process. A sensible approach is to start with the known before you move to the unknown. Simple topics must be covered before complex. Move from the particular to the general, encourage observation then reasoning. Present all points logically so that employees can make sense of the training. Draw upon the experiences that the employees bring to the training since they are active agents in the learning process.

7. You must be pleasant and sympathetic to employees and should not talk down to them. Create a learning environment that is comfortable and relaxing.

8. If you are teaching a skill you must possess the ability to demonstrate and explain step by step the processes involved. Provide opportunity for employees to imitate the actions and practice performing the procedures at an early stage in the training. Be on hand to monitor first attempts and check their understanding. Make sure that there is plenty of time to practice throughout the training and that you are there for employees who might experience any difficulty.

9. You need to select the right method/s to deliver the training. You should utilise the method/s that would be most effective in the specific training situation. Methods range from lectures, discussions, role play and training games/simulation to group exercises, sensitivity training and case study among others.

10. You must be able to communicate your message effectively to the employees you are training. Your words must be clear and spoken at the right pace. You must know when to pause. You can connect to the employees if you are conversational in your manner.

11. You have to be fully committed to the job of training. You must project enthusiasm, show that you are confident, energetic and lively. If you are not positive about what you are doing and appear to be going through the motions, your employees are going to sense this. You should at all times convey a sense of importance of the subject of your training and by all means take it seriously. Try to avoid distracting mannerisms and never give less than your best.

12. If you are preparing hand-outs they must be well written and readable. Power-point and other presentations must be carefully researched and designed to add and not subtract from the quality of the training.

13. You should always be prepared to answer any questions that are likely to arise during the training.

14. You should always follow-up on training and provide opportunities in the workplace for employees to implement what they have learnt from the training. Evaluate whether employees have improved after they have been trained and make arrangements for further training if possible.

15. Training must be conducted in the right way if it is to have the desired outcome. There are opportunities of managers to develop their skills in this area by attending Training of Trainers seminars. There is also a cadre of local professionals who have been trained and who can provide needed assistance.

If we can be of further assistance to you then contact us at the address below.

Submitted by the Centre for Enterprise Development Inc. (CED) a non-profit company that provides business development services to the local private sector.

We are located on the 1st Floor, Methodist Building, Granby Street. Kingstown. Telephone 784-451-2235/6. Email [email protected] or [email protected]