It’s all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you’re properly trained.
– Queen Elizabeth II
Most professions lay a great emphasis on certain specific skills, both soft skills as well as technical expertise which is expected to be learned either in a classroom or through experience. Nowadays organizations and educational institutes have understood the importance of soft skills and the necessity to inculcate these skills among students and employees. This is where the role of a professional trainer becomes imperative. Corporate training is not all about equipping oneself with average public speaking skills or an icebreaker activity but way more than what it meets the eye. Here is what you need to know to find your parachute to life after teaching by starting your career as a corporate trainer.
How teachers can become corporate trainers
Career change tips for school teachers and college professors
The baby step
No formal qualification is required to become a trainer. People from any sector and education background with the right skill set and aptitude can decide to become a trainer. Most people join this profession after they have worked for a while and gained considerable experience. The first step is to develop a technical or functional skill and graduate as an expert in that field to improve one’s credibility apart from working on one’s inherent ability to work with people.
Skills required as a trainer
“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two.’’
– Jerry Seinfield
If you have mastered the courage to get up in front of a group and start talking, then half the work of being a professional trainer is taken care of. If you still have doubts then here is a list of questions to find out how many can you answer with yes.
- Can you maintain your calm demeanor and professionalism in front of 10, 50 or 500 people?
- Can you commence a session by clearly communicating the learning objective, goal and relevance to the participants?
- Are you adept at using humor, personal anecdotes, real life stories, metaphors and other delivery methods apart from Power Point presentation or lecture to engage an audience?
- Can you facilitate group discussions and offer constructive oral and written feedback post session completion?
- Can you simplify complex concepts by breaking them into simple concepts to convey information in a clear, accessible way?
- Can you prepare training documents tailored for specific audience?
- Do you possess a growth mindset that requires not only responding to audience and supervisor feedback but also work upon the suggestions and areas of concern to deliver better sessions next time?
- Do you possess an entrepreneurial spirit to work without supervision and meet weekly, monthly and yearly goals?
As far as I know all good teachers possess these skills because they are less of teachers and more of facilitators. We might be strong in some skills and not so strong in rest of the skills, but definitely we are not missing on any one of them. All these skills can be applied not only to human resources and other business applications but also as a trainer, thus making the next step for transition quiet secure.
Difference between professional training and teaching
If you want to transit from teaching to training then the most important thing you need to consider is the transition from pedagogy to andragogy. This means that your prior classroom experience would not matter much as the thing that matters most is whether you can seamlessly switch from managing a classroom of children or high school students to a classroom of adult learners. As a professional trainer you need to accept adult learners as participants equal to you and not as students. Hence all those strategies of controlling a class may not apply as you can’t discipline an adult learner in front of other employees. Hence reflect upon those challenging scenarios in your teaching career where you had unruly students who demonstrated disruptive behavior as they could not keep up with the pace of the entire class and now correlate this dealing with an employee exhibiting similar behavior.
Another aspect to hone would be curriculum development where you can develop a training course and create training materials from scratch as the classes in training session are of much shorter duration as compared to long school curriculum developed exclusively for one academic year. One of the biggest issues that educators might face is to understand that goals of training and academia are different. In academia the goal is to convey information via power point or simple classroom lecture and to expect that the responsibility to master it and prepare for the exam lies on the onus of the students. In training the responsibility for the participant to master skills and concepts is on the trainer. Unlike schools professional training sessions do not rely heavily on exams and tests but on practical hands-on activity as training is concerned with application to prepare employee for their jobs. To summarize training is extremely focused on the science and psychology of learning unlike the conventional transfer of knowledge.
Professional courses to become a trainer
As mentioned earlier no formal qualification is required. If you intend to start a career in this field then one can plan their graduation specializing in education, education psychology, instruction design, human resources, business administration, organization psychology, information technology etc. Since corporate training is all about enriching the employees of a company, acquiring a master’s degree in human resources or organization management can increase your employment and career advancement opportunities. In addition to this it won’t harm anyone if you pursue some foreign language course like French, German, Japanese and Mandarin to make you more attractive to multinational companies as you will be in a great advantage to communicate or even train multilingual stakeholders.
To get an edge over others one can enroll for ‘Train the Trainer’ (TTT) programmes. These short certification programmes for aspiring trainers last between three to five days. Certification programmes generally equip you with working knowledge of how to design training modules and prepare effective presentations, how to analyze the training needs of an organization, how to deliver effective training and measure its effectiveness.
In India academic bodies like, Indian Society of training and development (ISTD), XLRI Jamshedpur, Dale Carnegie Training and other training and consulting firms offer such certificate courses. These short courses can serve as an ideal launch pad to acquire trainer like skills and field experience, but this does not mean it can act as a leverage to differentiate between a seasoned trainers to that of a novice. This is because corporate training just like public speaking is a form of art which does not follow a well chalked out flowchart to excel in this profession. Like old wine it becomes better with experience, if you are able to gather confidence in your area of expertise as well as your ability to refine your skills to entertain and educate an audience.
Scope of corporate training as a career
To survive and flourish in today’s competitive world it is important for companies not only to train their employees and managers to keep them abreast with the best practice but also to instill a growth mindset amongst them to stay ahead of the competition. Most of the topics trained are those that people have not mastered to a great extent in their formal education phase such as public speaking, business writing etiquette, communication skill, image management, negotiation and sales skills and other soft skills. With India set to become the world’s youngest country by 2020, survival of the fittest will be the norm and soft skills will the crucial factor to consider. As a fresher one can begin one’s career as an entry- level employee or as an assistant trainer. Trainers can work as in –house trainers with organizations as subject matter expert, work in a training company exclusively devoted to soft skills training or even work as independent freelance trainers or life coaches. Common career avenues for a corporate trainer would be –
- In house trainer – Such people conduct training and handholding for new employees in the same company that they work.
- Specialized subject area trainer – They are subject matter experts who focus on specific areas like web development or software testing for software companies, banks and other commercial firms.
- Executive coach – These coaches act as consultants to help clients or even companies to restructure and improve their business performance.
Challenges faced by corporate trainers
Once you establish yourself as a professional trainer, you will clearly realize that you can’t simply breeze into a training room and perform a little waltz to impress everyone with your talent. To deliver a session where every participant is engaged with rapt attention requires a lot more of sweat and grime than expected. Hence it is important to know some of the challenges that an aspiring trainer might face in his/ her rookie days –
- Preparing relevant content – Before designing content one needs to assess the training needs of the participants to whom one is going to train. This means it does not matter how innovative or creative your training module is but what matters is whether you have created content, manuals, activities which actually fits in with the requirements of your participants.
- Physically draining – Some training sessions can be as long as your normal working hour of 8 hours. This means it requires a lot of physical labor to prevent your body and vocal chords from being strained. As a trainer not only will you be expected to be on your feet but also remain energetic throughout to maintain the energy and interest level of your participants.
- Feedback matters – As a trainer your session’s feedback should be considered as the sanctum sanctorum for your existence in this profession. If your session attracts a high Net Promoter Score® of 50 or above it speaks volumes about your session’s effectiveness and a positive yes for a follow up workshop by your participants. More than that you can analyze these scores to identify your strengths and weakness and to convert your weakness into something more well in your next sessions. Even if you perform your best but if it does not translate into good scores then it can act as a red flag for your client and even future prospective client.
Nonetheless it is all these challenges and initial learning phase that produce fine gold and if taken positively can be professionally rewarding. To quote in the words of the legend –
I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’
– Muhammad Ali
Image credit: Dainik Savera Times