The Most Common Train the Trainer Mistakes
When conducted properly, staff training programmes are valuable opportunities for employees to develop their skills. Although most businesses already offer some type of employee training for new staff, more businesses are going the custom route, creating tailored courses for their staff.

Most of this in-house training is carried out by experienced staff members. In order to train these people and make sure they can mentor their co-workers effectively, employers often opt for a Train the Trainer course.

But why is it necessary? Well, although in-house trainers may have the technical ability to teach, usually they have no actual teaching skills. This means that, in order to get the most out of this internal training, they have to be trained how to prepare and deliver the training material.

Unfortunately, however, the Train the Trainer approach isn't as perfect as we'd like it to be. Individual trainers are fallible and errors do happen from time to time. Every time we run a training session, we ask delegates to discuss some of their worst experiences on other training courses. Below are some of the most common mistakes trainers make during training, with tips on how to avoid them.

The most common trainer mistakes

Offering Generic Training

The whole point of improving employee skills is to seek a competitive advantage in any industry. It goes without saying that no two businesses are run exactly the same way. Therefore attempting to use a one-size-fits-all training template for different businesses is simply illogical. It needs to be as relevant as possible to the audience in front of the trainer, on any given day.

To avoid this:

Before the course begins, trainers should always determine the company's training needs first. One way to do this is to send participants a pre-course questionnaire a few weeks before training. This information will help the trainer know what the delegates hope to learn from the course, and create a custom programme to address these issues.

If this is not possible, as part of the start of the course, a discussion can be had about what each delegate hopes to gain and achieve out of the training. This can help not only with tailoring the content of the training itself, but even allow them to adapt and adjust who they get to help with the practical exercises.

Poor Preparation

Nothing screams "unprofessionalism" more than watching a trainer repeatedly lose their place in the slides or simply reciting from a slide instead of presenting it. When this happens, delegates start to wonder if the training they're receiving is going to be effective at all.

To avoid this:

As a trainer, make sure to prepare and proofread your content. Only use slides that support the course delivery and avoid reading them out loud.

Talking Too Much

Some trainers get in front of the room and just seem to drone on and on and on. They talk their way through a 300-slide presentation, and ask 'any questions?' at the end.

This is no way to teach or train, and by this time most delegates just want to escape the room.

In fact, they probably wanted to escape waaaaaay before that!

To avoid this:

Firstly, a note to remember. A lecture is not the same as a training session. They may have similar end goals i.e. for the audience/attendees to leave having learnt something, but they go about things differently.

You're there to train, not to deliver a lecture.

Stick to the planned set of slides by all means, but pause at certain intervals to ask the audience questions, interact and perform exercises.

Their response (or lack of) to questions will let you know if they are following along or not.

Raised hands

Not Following Up

After a training session, most trainers rarely follow up with participants. Data from the American Society for Training and Development shows that with little follow-up, up to 90% of new skills are lost within a year. If trainers don't do this, how can they tell if their training made any difference?

To avoid this:

Trainers should schedule follow-up calls at certain intervals after training. They can even offer mini refresher courses via email or on the phone.

Now, some of the responsibility here can be laid at the feet of those organising the training. perhaps that's an internal HR person who has arranged a course for colleagues. They don't facilitate the trainer being able to contact people after the session.

But a good trainer is always going to suggest this. They may say to the person organising the training that a small follow up session is required, or micro one to one sessions to see how things are going.

If nothing has been set up for further follow up, it can't harm a trainer suggesting that something gets planned. And, even if the person arranging things decides not to go ahead, at least it wasn't the fault of the trainer's.

Treating Training as a One-off

Training shouldn't be a one-off scenario, because most business environments aren't static. New laws and guidelines are passed regularly, meaning old systems must be changed too. This means employees must be retrained at least once a year.

And even if you happened to be in an industry that experiences very little change, the fact is that people can forget things, or develop bad habits.

In fact, the development of bad habits is probably the best reason to look at ongoing training. Consider the salesperson that tries something different to what they usually try. It may be a one in a million shot, but it works, and so that salesperson then tries it every time, and its just not working.

Training can help reset things, and get the person out of the bad habit that they picked up since the last training.

To avoid this:

Understand that training is an ongoing process and it's the only way organisations will retain their employees' skills. Trainers must partner with firms to deliver regular assessments and refresher courses.

Teaching skills aren't innate and, unfortunately, the problems mentioned above are all too common. However, they can easily be avoided with adequate knowledge and preparation, which is why train the trainer courses are so important.