Training is a learning experience and requires a balanced and broad spectrum of skill sets. Besides the challenge of training employees, it has been found even more challenging to train senior-level employees on development programs and other ‘soft skills’ topics. Senior-level leaders have high expectations and they must be able to believe that their time will be well spent in any training programs, meaning you need to establish your credibility from the get-go. In order to train at this level, you’ll need to continuously process your structure, be-in-the-moment, welcome and embrace the unexpected, and create an environment in which your participants understand what you are encouraging them to learn.
You need to be at your best, at all times, and employing every potential advantage at hand before stepping foot inside the room where you will be training. There are 7 principles of training that are critical to your success, remaining mindful of these principles will not only enhance your success, they will have a good impact on the training experience in which you have created with your participants.
The first core principle is to ‘Be Courageous.’ This is where ‘embracing and inviting the unexpected’ will be applied and will expand upon your own comfort level, competence and confidence. Ensuring that all senior-level participants know you are in complete control. Your comfort level needs to always be pushed outside the zone and the dynamics of human interaction will facilitate this so that real learning for both you and your participants can start. To push your comfort levels, try new activities and explore new topics, invite disagreements and challenges, understand your limits, acknowledge you don’t have all the answers, challenge your participants, and by all means, push them beyond their comfort levels.
Second: ‘Be a Role Model’. As a trainer of both employees and senior-level leaders, you have a dual responsibility to model both learning and leading. As a learner, you need to model active participation and openness to your own growth; with your eagerness, energy, interest, curiosity and respect for the participants’ contributions and knowledge, your audience will respond in kind. The second part of being a role model, is to walk your talk. This is the only sure way to gain credibility from all your participants.
Third: ‘Balance Flexibility and Responsibility’. Your ability to interpret accurately and understand the needs of the participants is a critical component of being an excellent trainer. Being rigid will only make the participants feel like they are only being trained and not gaining a new skill set. However, you must stick to the stated training objectives and overall time frames of the program, or otherwise the participants will feel you have no control or organization. This is where the 1st principle will come in very handy.
Fourth: ‘Make it Theirs’. Adults, especially senior executives, should be acknowledged for their life experience and be valued for what they bring into the training seminars. Probe your participants with appropriate questions that will open up the floor with a wealth of resources for everyone in the room. Create ways to utilize participants’ input through building small groups that will share, advice-swap, or create networking opportunities through discussions of workplaces issues.
Fifth principle: ‘Make it Yours’. Authenticity is the dynamic that will make you the best trainer and facilitator. Your connection with the material being taught must come from personal experience to truly become effective and to heightened the participants engagement about what they are being taught. Don’t go over-board with your own ‘experience’ stories, but instead encourage participants to share.
Sixth: ‘Focus on Application’. Your participants, after the training session, will need to apply what they just learned. As a trainer, you need to fully ensure that the participants grasp all the content and are able to articulate its relevance, so that they can implement their new skills into their daily work and see how it will improve their performance. You need to design the training so that the participants can practice, to try out the new skills and new behaviors in real life. This is also where the 1st principle will come in handy, because all the participants will require different ways to practice. Be open to how varied their needs will be.
Finally: ‘Link it to the Business’. As a trainer, you should have a complete understating of how it is you are training connects with that particular business’ goals, objectives, challenges, and issues. It’s recommended that you contact all the participants before the training begins; having a better understanding of why they are taking the training in the first place will give you the connection necessary to establish credibility and authenticity.
Training is not easy work, there will be times when you’ll wonder why you’ve chose to take on the career of training, but if you keep putting into practice the above seven principles of training, you will find those rough times coming around less and less and you’ll become better at inspiring and developing wisdom among employees and leaders alike.