When was the last time you took inventory of your trainers? As training managers, it’s sometimes hard for us to keep our training staff up-to-date with all the latest and greatest. We continually have to address the issue of training quickly and effectively on new software updates, new technology, and alternative training methods.

Take inventory
One thing that training managers should do on a regular basis is take inventory of where their trainers stand professionally. There are many views and issues you can look at when determining a trainer’s professional status, but five basic topics should always be considered:

  • Software knowledge
  • Adult education techniques
  • Self-confidence in the classroom
  • Ability to learn
  • Contribution to the team

Software knowledge
Take inventory of what software your trainers are certified in, what software they are knowledgeable of, and what software they need to be trained in. There may be a need for you to give them more training.

Adult education techniques
This is a whole topic in itself. Are your trainers knowledgeable of what adult education techniques are? When you teach an adult audience, there are a lot of factors to consider, such as age, education level, experience level, etc. Having a good foundation in the adult education techniques is a must for every trainer.

Self-confidence in the classroom
Are the trainers comfortable in the classroom? I have known several trainers who were experts in their fields, known as subject matter experts (SMEs), but they didn’t display self-confidence in the classroom. This can become an issue because if a trainer doesn’t seem confident in his answers, the audience won’t be confident in them either.

Ability to learn
Some people lack the ability or desire to learn. Sometimes you have a new trainer, for example, who insists on observing a class several times before taking the initiative to jump in there and teach it. Trainers, as a habit of nature in our field, should be able to observe once or twice and then jump in. It doesn’t matter if we fall on our faces a few times. Even experienced trainers occasionally trip. The point is, you should be willing to learn by your mistakes. The other side to this is the fact that some trainers get complacent and simply don’t want to learn any more than they already do. “I’ve always taught MS Windows and MS Project, why do you want me to learn Internet Browsing?”

Contribution to the team
What contributions is each trainer making to the team as a whole? Are they always there to help fellow trainers in a crunch? Do they take the initiative to help cross train other trainers? Each individual has his or her own niche, but does he or she hoard knowledge or share it? Sometimes people feel that if they share their knowledge with others, then it makes them less valuable. I feel just the opposite. The more you share with others, the more respect you receive, and the more valuable you become—you’re contributing to the success of the team!

Analyze your results
No two trainers are the same; nor should they be expected to be. Once you’ve taken inventory on your trainers, sit down and look at their weaknesses and strengths. If a particular trainer is weak in one subject, have the trainer who’s strong in the subject do some cross training. If a trainer lacks self-confidence, put him with a trainer who will bring him out of his shell and make him feel confident in his abilities and knowledge. Remember that those who work as a team remain as a team. The best teams are made up of people with different strengths and weaknesses because it forces them to work together and respect each other for their individual talents.
Share with us what types of things you take inventory on and how often you do this. Do you think it makes a difference in the strength of the team to keep inventory on where they are professionally? If you’d like to comment on this article or suggest a topic that training managers would like to read about, please write.