Nudge your trainers outside of their comfort zones

Do you want to help your trainers broaden their knowledge beyond their current skill sets? Schoun Regan shows you ways to take your team to the next level.

Take a look at the applications on which your company trains its customers. Is the list too short? Are your trainers teaching the same classes over and over? Are they getting stale? True, your instructors know a particular application backward and forward, but don’t let them rest on their laurels. Encourage them to learn something new.

By doing so, you increase the instructors’ knowledge beyond that of your company’s software training offerings. This, in the long run, increases the range of consulting and training that you can offer. This also adds to the overall satisfaction of the instructor. Smart idea. (By the same token, you shouldn’t force trainers to learn and teach something that doesn’t interest them.)

Let trainers draw on their experiences
You’ve got a great instructor who knows PhotoShop, so buy a copy of Quark or CorelDraw and encourage that instructor to learn the other application. Buy applications that are similar to the ones you teach but are not currently on your schedule.

The human database
Trying to meet your ever-expanding need for instructors skilled in database design? Send instructors with a math background and willingness to answer lengthy questions to a Visual Basic or programming class. Perhaps the class will spur a greater interest in database function—and will allow you to fill a teaching hole. They need not have a programmer's background, but you may wish to push them in that direction.

The macro maid
Increase a user’s skill set by teaching a task and you give the user a fish. Teach a user to write macros that automate tasks and the user becomes a fisherman. Too many trainers either don’t teach or don’t know how to write or teach macros. Macros can be written by most Office applications and can be used to automate repetitive tasks. Perhaps use an instructor who is on the Visual Basic path to teach others the proper use of macros. This is a sleeper area of training. Learn the macro and wow the customer.

The Webber
Webbers—we know them and love them. They suck up technology as if it were water and never seem to run out of ideas and energy. Webbers are excellent, enthusiastic instructors, but don’t try to make them teach beginning Word. Be careful not to kill their zeal by assigning a class that bores them. Instead, challenge their skills—and quick learning curve—by giving them software to master in a shorter time frame than you would give other trainers.

Techie deathmatch
Make sure your more technical trainers are deep in one path instead of shallow in two. Most training companies offer both Microsoft technical training and Novell technical training. Those instructors should be allowed to get certified in one path before tackling another. Some companies who are short on trainers will overload their technical instructors and force them to learn another technical path before they are ready. Don't do this.

Moral of the story
While each area is distinct, it pays to keep your instructors happy. They will spread that enthusiasm—and knowledge—to your customers. Everyone will be better off because you do.

Schoun Regan is a consultant to training firms and travels across North America educating people for Complete Mac Seminars. Follow this link if you'd like to comment on this article or write to Schoun .

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