The Task of Company Training and Trainers
The task of company training is to facilitate learning. It is to transmit not only knowledge but enthusiasm, heart, and solidarity. We might make too much of corporate training for all the attendant professionalism and ranking when the real job is to simply teach. The company itself is the teacher, most often via a trainer.
What is the role of the trainer? What does his or her job look like? In the instructor's eye? In the pupil's eye? And how is learning confirmed? Let's take a look at this task.
How would you rate your company training experiences?
A successful teacher has the ability to simplify large concepts. Concepts are packages of specific knowledge that act as the framework for some type of action or understanding. A trainer's first job will be to remove the fear of concepts, or to put people at ease with them, because we are often intimidated by new and complex knowledge. The trainer should understand that knowledge, although new, is able to be grasped with the right presentation. Yet the presentation must come in “bite sizes” that trigger thought processes and even old knowledge that will bridge the new.
So, a good teacher knows when to set aside techniques and communicate large concepts in fragments and steps: “Just stop and think—[B] cannot happen until [A] occurs” or “Hey, don’t worry. You cannot damage [said type] of [A].” These moments first relieve and then help the trainee to order his learning of a concept. This is vital when a job is knowledge-based or sequenced.
A trainer is a translator, able to communicate in a way that allows trainees to convert ideas into already familiar concepts or relate them to their backgrounds. The trainee is given an advantage this way because he can then take the driver’s seat—“Oh, I understand! This is like…” What it’s like may be something the trainer could never know or understand, but for this person the principle correlates with a past experience, a catalyst, and understanding is completed.
A trainer's first job is to remove the fear of concepts and put people at ease. We are often intimidated by new and complex knowledge.
Critical Thinking and Testing
An important part of the learning process is showing a person how to think about ideas. In a larger way it is more important than any information because it is a lesson in critical thinking that can build a person’s confidence in his or her knowledge. For instance, a trainee is working with a concept but holds some erroneous ideas about it. Rather than the trainer being insensitive to the trainee’s need and telling him to “Just do it this way!”, if possible it may be better to keep an eye on that person as they work through their learning toward the truth.
The process of working through bad information toward fuller understanding has the effect of powerfully engraining truth in one’s mind once it is reached. The very process of learning that information now becomes valuable to the student. To omit this vital step for impatience and even being a less conscientious teacher is to conceivably forfeit this person’s new conviction and matriculation. So the company loses.
A trainer cannot test what has not been taught or what he or she cannot be sure has been learned. The trainer is obligated to lead trainees into knowledge, and only after it has been found present in sufficient measure may it be tested. Further, the test is not designed to discover knowledge. A teacher teaches (and quizzes) to ensure the presence of knowledge and tests trainees for comprehension.
Let’s make some illustrations of testing what hasn’t been taught: A two-legged “chair” that we might expect others to trust. But it could not be trusted because it is not fully a chair yet, missing at least one more leg. Again, to make withdrawals from a bank account in which there are insufficient funds—who would dare test the bank account then? Or trying a kid out on a new bike before he’s ever been taught to ride with either training wheels or supervision. (Keep reading…)
A test is the requirement of knowledge after it is has been taught and is present in mind and is able to be rehearsed. (Rehearsed: If I were to say the words snake, sugar, eagle, ant, frog...with nothing further stated, no one would know what the words were supposed to mean. But should I add context and speak of a food chain and explain how the ant eats the sugar, the frog eats the ant, the snake eats the frog, and the eagle eats the snake, then that knowledge can be rehearsed, or pondered and learned. Only now that it is present and rehearsable can it be required to show for comprehension.)
Learning is not automatic and effective teaching is not easy. It (should) incorporate the whole of one’s life experience. It is emotional, psychological, cognitional, spiritual, etc., because the exchange of teaching and learning derives out of our experiences of life itself, what it teaches us and what we contribute to it.
This is the task of company training and those who are its teachers.