The Importance of Instructor Certification

In the Instructor Certification Makes Non-Trainers Successful case study we analyze three different training styles and the competencies, or skills, the Instructional Certification Program (ICP) focuses on for each of these training styles to be successful. These three styles include SME (Subject Matter Expert), Team Leaders, and Natural Trainers. Each style has strong points that, when addressed and supported, increase the effectiveness of the individual trainer.

This is both interesting and relevant since each individual, or Trainee, in a class also has a different learning style just as each instructor has a different teaching style. ICP addresses these issues and creates a set of teaching strategies that everyone can use.

Who are the Instructors?

Before we can understand how planning and instructional competencies affect the different training styles, we must first understand who the trainers, or instructors, are. In the Packaging, Manufacturing, Process and Distribution world there are typically three different types of trainers. These include Subject Matter Experts, Team Leaders, and Natural Trainers.

Let’s start with the Subject Matter Expert, or SME. You know this individual; (s)he knows the equipment or process inside and out. The SME is the “technology-based” person who can answer really hard questions. Typically SME’s provide a vast amount of knowledge but have a difficult time explaining the topics. Perhaps, like the classmate who always knew a lot more than the rest of us, the SME always has the answers but has a difficult time explaining how they got to them. We may be impressed with their knowledge but we may also be a bit frustrated they are haphazard in sharing it with us.

The second group is the Team Leaders. They are the ones typically in charge of others, or the “quarterbacks” on a team. When training they are typically pressed for time and will look for a quick answer to the most recent problem, disregarding any systematic approach or known information in favor of a new procedure. Perhaps, like the boss who is so focused on meeting production goals at the end of the shift, (s)he may not recognize known solutions to reoccurring problems or foresee any upcoming issues. We may be impressed that they do what needs to be done to reach production but also be a bit frustrated that the shortcuts provided are not sustainable.

The most interesting group may be the Natural Trainers. The Natural Train is the other “go-to” person in a department; sometimes not for their vast knowledge but for their ability to find that answer. They like to explore new methods and techniques and are typically willing to help out and share knowledge. A natural mentor or coach, they can grab and train almost anything, but are not known for their organization.

Training is well and good in and of itself, but if you don’t go into it with a plan it can be far less than successful. In fact, it can even be disastrous down the road if one of your trainees misunderstands something and messes up on the job. That’s why you need to start making a difference ahead of time and prepare adequately yourself for every session. In this entry, I discuss this planning process for trainers in our industry. I hope it really changes the way you look at things for the better as we come to a conclusion.

How do Trainers plan?

Do you consider planning your workforce development an important factor to its success? Perhaps, but do you know why? And do you know how to plan, based on your training style?

Planning training is a key element to a successful training event. Think of it as knowing a trip destination, and then following the step-by-step preparations to get there safely. It is the same when planning for classroom and hands-on training.  You need a group goal (destination), and objectives (steps to get to the destination) so everyone shares a common destination and knows the steps to arrive there successfully.

So, all planning should include developing a goal and objectives. But beyond a goal and objectives, how do you plan based on your training style?

Since SME’s do not typically see a need for formal training, their training usually contains a lot of in-depth detail with little organization. The SME planning process should include developing a checklist of all the most important information, and placing those items into a logical flow of when they should be done. With this checklist, the SME can take a relaxed approach to training yet still be assured of achieving the goal.

Since Team Leaders typically focus on problems and solutions planning is not a high priority. The Team Leaders planning process should include an informal pre-assessment to identify the employees’, or students’, current level of knowledge and abilities. With this pre-assessment, the Team Leader will have the reminder to incorporate basic knowledge as well as more relevant or critical information.

Since the Natural Trainer is always searching for new and great information the content is not always easy to organize. The Natural Trainers planning process should include time to review available materials and combine them with an informal pre-assessment to identify the employees’, or students’, current level of knowledge and abilities. With both the content organized and an awareness of student knowledge, the Natural Trainer will be ready to bring confirmation of knowledge to their training.

Motivating Trainers

Our motives are what guide us at the core of who we are, and understanding how to motivate others is essential if you want to become an exceptional instructor. I am sharing with you how to start accomplishing this in your company classrooms and start motivating your students today.

Motivational skills are the skills instructors use to help adult learners focus on learning. Positive reinforcement skills are those that instructors use to help adult learners feel more comfortable in the learning environment. And, Clarification or feedback is a method of information verification used by instructors and students to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the information presented or the questions asked.

These skills are developed and honed over time and provide instructor-candidates with a strong foundation. In developing new instructors to effectively transfer knowledge, knowing when, where and how to use motivational skills to enhance and not detract from the instructional process is important.

One example of the use of instructor-candidate motivational tools is Polytron’s best-practice training method of filming MOCK setting presentations – one delivered on the first day of class and one delivered on the last day of class. These presentations are integral to the overall class as they act as “bookends” allowing the instructor-candidates to practice and review the skills they learn in class. This process has proven to build instructor-candidate confidence through planning and presenting within a supported training environment.

The best instructors are a company’s own employees because they are the subject matter experts. They can learn how to transfer the knowledge through proven training methods such as motivational skills, positive reinforcement and clarification or feedback.