The train-the-trainer model is used to train trainers or subject matter experts so that they can then teach others effectively.
Imagine you’re an expert at using a particular software package. Right now, you’re the only person within your organization with any experience of using this package.
This software is about to be rolled out across your entire organization. Your boss asks you to train the rest of the organization to use this software through a series of workshops.
Over the course of a few days, you create some training materials and use them in your workshops to train the rest of the organization to use the new software.
Can you see any problems with this approach?
There are many, but the most serious problems are:
The train-the-trainer model overcomes these issues as it is based on the principle that in order to provide effective training, you need to become an expert at two things: your subject and teaching.
Thus, courses built using the train-the-trainer model improve your skills in both the subject you want to teach and how best to transfer that knowledge to your future students.
Another issue with the scenario above is that our solution doesn’t scale. If there are 20,000 people in your organization then it’s simply not possible for you alone to train everyone via small workshops.
Because the train-the-trainer model trains trainers who then deliver the training, the model enables you to deliver consistent training at scale.
Before we examine the train-the-trainer model, let’s take a moment to look at the characteristics of people who make good trainers.
These personality traits are important because not everyone is suited to training others.
The greater the number of these characteristics a potential trainer has, the more likely they are to be a good trainer:
If you want to create a train-the-trainer session or course within your organization, then here are some important best practices to consider:
Begin by deciding what it is you want your train-the-trainer course to achieve. Some common objectives include:
Now that you understand the goals you are trying to achieve, you need to determine how you will track progress towards those goals.
Typically, the trainers’ competence will be measured at both the beginning and end of the course. They will usually be assessed on both their technical expertise as well as their teaching expertise.
Now it’s time to design the modules that you will teach as part of your train-the-trainer course.
If your teaching subject matter experts, then it’s likely you’ll spend a significant proportion of your time teaching them teaching skills. If your teaching experienced trainers, then you’ll spend a more significant proportion of the time teaching the subject itself.
Finally, it’s time to create your training materials. There are two sets of materials that you’ll need to make:
It is important that you create training materials that cater to the different ways in which people like to learn. For example, some people prefer to learn from doing whereas others may prefer to learn from reading a book. To learn more about different learning preferences, read our article on Kolb’s Learning Cycle.
Now that we’ve designed our train-the-trainer course let’s take a look at an example of how such a course might be run in practice.
There are three actors in this example you need to be aware of:
The diagram below shows the four key steps the potential trainers move through during the train-the-trainer process.
In this step, Potential Trainers will attend the train-the-trainer course run by the Master Trainer. The Master Trainer will have already created the course that the Potential Trainers will eventually trach to Students. The course will consist of learning the material and learning the best ways to teach the material.
Now that all of the course material as been taught by the Master Trainer, each Potential Trainer will have an opportunity to present one or more modules the course to their peers (other Potential Trainers).
This will be done alongside the Master Trainer so that they can get feedback on how to improve their performance interactively as they deliver the training.
Once the Potential Trainers have delivered their training in conjunction with the Master Trainer, it’s time to deliver one or more modules of the course alone, without interactive feedback.
In this step, feedback will only be provided by the Master Trainer once the Potential Trainer has finished delivering their training.
If the Potential Trainer performs at the required standard, it’s time to move to the next step where each Potential Trainer delivers the training to real students.
In this step, the Potential Trainer is no longer a Potential Trainer, but an actual Trainer, and they must deliver the training for real to actual students.
Note that it is common for the Master Trainer to attend the first course the new trainer delivers to provide final corrective feedback to the Trainer as they deliver their course to real students.
The benefits of the train-the-trainer model include:
The disadvantages of the train-the-trainer model include:
The train-the-trainer model provides organizations with an efficient way to rollout training at scale.
The train-the-trainer model works by having an expert trainer train internal employees to become trainers in a specific subject. These internal employees, now trainers, can then train others within the organization using what they have learned.
During a train-the-trainer course, potential trainers will learn the subject they will be teaching and the teaching skills necessary to teach their subject in the best way.
Kolb’s Learning Cycle
Theory of Planned Behavior
Theories of Motivation
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Self-Efficacy Theory of Motivation
Reinforcement Theory of Motivation
Locke’s Goal Setting Theory