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How To Be a Good Trainer in Four Steps

The best trainers are those who proactively look for opportunities to improve their skills. In this post, we’re highlighting the most important qualities shared by the best trainers in the business. Even if you’ve spent months nailing down an effective learning and development strategy, each participant’s overall experience will have just as much to do with the trainer assigned to them, as the course curriculum itself.

Luckily, learning how to be a good trainer is within the grasp of anyone motivated enough to improve, and we’ve identified four primary qualities that can make a significant impact in a trainer’s overall effectiveness and ability to connect with trainees. In a nutshell, a good trainer is:

What are the key qualities of a good trainer?

Before we jump into the four most important traits, download our free evaluation form, which makes it easy to evaluate your existing abilities as a trainer, and identify the most high-impact areas in need of improvement.

1. Be empathetic

The simplest definition of empathy is the ability to understand and connect with the feelings of others. But while the definition is simple enough, truly understanding and demonstrating empathy has the potential to completely transform the training experience. 

A 2021 study identified empathy as the most important leadership skill, with this excerpt especially pertinent: “76% of people who experienced empathy from their leaders reported they were engaged compared with only 32% who experienced less empathy”.

During each training session, the trainer takes a crucial leadership role. And with L&D teams continuously focused on learner engagement, empathy is a proven variable in the formula. A handful of ways to increase trainer empathy include:

  • Always following through on the commitments you make to others
  • Being present during conversations
  • Look to identify challenges that your learners are facing, and small ways you can lighten their burden

2. Be organized

Organization is a great trait to follow empathy, since it’s easy for most of us to understand the frustration that might occur when participating in a disorganized, difficult-to-follow training course. The time required to engage in, and complete, training is valuable, and it’s of the utmost importance that participants feel that their time is spent effectively.

Pay attention to the answers you receive via post-training surveys, and look for responses that indicate frustration, confusion, or any indication that participants didn’t regard the training time as well spent. These indicators can all be signs that they experienced the effects of disorganized training. Here’s a list of recommendations for trainers looking to increase their organizational skills:

  • Make sure that every training task and plan is recorded, and nothing is left to memory
  • Avoid multitasking, and limit distractions when engaging in deep work
  • Make use of established project management software or other organizational tools. If none are available, work as a team to identify options that can best serve the needs of the organization

3. Be data-driven

It may seem that being data-driven conflicts with being empathetic, but good trainers should be able to effectively balance the two. In fact, being data-driven can reassure trainees that their training experience isn’t just based on hunches or feelings, but backed by verifiable data.

Data can be an important input for a trainer looking to increase engagement and satisfaction with the experience they provide. In reviewing survey data and LMS reports, they should be able to identify opportunities to improve upcoming trainings, and even identify ways to capture additional data that might be helpful in the future.

This is one reason that it’s so important to choose an LMS with strong reporting capabilities, because without it, even the most well-intentioned trainers are left guessing about areas to optimize.

4. Be committed to lifelong learning

Lifelong learning is a foundational principle that drives L&D teams forward, so it’s no surprise that each trainer should take this perspective to heart. A passion for learning is something that can be shared, and training participants can sense the difference between someone who embraces lifelong learning, and someone who doesn’t.

Not only is the attitude contagious, but trainers can rely on the drive to continually learn and grow when facing setbacks, criticisms, or challenges—it will likely pull them through these obstacles. This article in Training Magazine lays out nine things you can do to embrace the mindset of a lifelong learner, three of which include:

  • Embrace your curiosity
  • Develop an ability for deep concentration
  • Set aside 30 minutes each day to develop a new skill or learn something new

Being a good trainer is a marathon, not a sprint

While some trainers might not feel 100% confident in their abilities, it’s important to accept that becoming a good trainer doesn’t happen overnight. Ultimately, the best trainers are those who want to improve, and then use that desire as a motivator. For trainers who feel that drive to become better, the four traits highlighted in this article – empathy, organization, data literacy, and an attitude of lifelong learning – are some of the most impactful qualities to focus on. And while these characteristics can require years to master, they are well worth the effort!     

And don’t forget to download our free evaluation form, which provides a great starting point for improving your skills as a trainer by getting feedback from your most important advocates – your learners. Good luck!

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