Why is it that certain people end up as trainers? Some people seek this position out but other come to it accidentally. What attributes are essential to be a trainer? Is someone born a trainer or do they become one?
Let’s first explore a skill set. Trainers need to be problem solvers, mindful of others, self-aware, and friendly, among other things. Some of these characteristics are traits that we acquire as we grow and others can be easily learned. I think I should say fate is garbage. I’m of the opinion that if we want something and we are willing to put in the time and make the sacrifices there is no reasonable reason why we can’t make it happen. Getting down from that soapbox…
Everyone takes a different path to get where they currently are, even twins have different experiences. It’s important that three things be present to be a successful trainer; drive, ability, and knowledge. Some people start into a technical career and then eventually get put into the role of training new hires which morphs into a career as a trainer. So they may have the drive and the knowledge but do they have the ability to train? You set up a friend on a date with an attractive woman and he might drop the ball for any number or reasons. In this example the subject matter expert (SME) could take a few soft-skill courses to pick up her training game.
Going through school for my Training Certificate I found that most learners were in the above situation. They were accountants who did a bit of training and wanted to get better or a manager who did new hire orientation. So there was them, and then there was me. I had a bit of training experience in a retail and customer service setting but I wasn’t in a position to start making new training programs with my new abilities. I truly wasn’t sure where I was going to end up, but like all stray dogs with a friendly bark, I found a home and learned new tricks. I wonder if SME’s go into a course about training the same way that a non-SME feels going into a course on technical knowledge. Either way both parties can acquire the knowledge they require to get the job done.
Someone can learn to teach and another person can learn the content so the only element that someone need to bring to the table is drive, everything else can be learned. There are a litany of skills that that can make a person a better trainer but when it gets down to it those can be improved through practice, self-awareness and reflection.
The question then becomes one of motivation. Where does that come from? For me I grew up watching my dad, a SME and entrepreneur, share his knowledge with people and the respect that got him. Knowledge truly is power, School House Rock knew this the whole time! But not in a world-domination sort of way, more in a being-able-to-positively-impact-peoples-lives sort of way.
I want to include a special note about my mom . My parents’ business, St.Clair Gardens, was a garden center where I cut my teeth on customer service and being a responsible young man. My mother unknowingly introduced me Universal Design because everytime dad and I would be moving displays and plant benches around mom would always say, “is there room for a wheel chair or a walker?” and dad and I would roll our eyes and move the benches again. But she was right.
These lessons are what shapes us and we all find them at different times and different places. Once we are motivated, we can learn the rest and arrive at the destination of our choice.