Matching Trainers to Your Core Values

August 12, 2011 12 Comments

Allen F. Weitzel has spent 45 seasons in the recreation field and is safety and training manager at a California amusement park.

This topic will raise some eyebrows and spark comments. Should your trainers be required to train on subjects or philosophies that they strongly disagree with? Some would say, “It is their job. It does not matter if they agree or disagree!” But, let me tell why this may not be the best policy.

What Makes A Good Trainer?

Before you address the material being taught, you need to have good trainers. Trainers must be passionate about educating others. They must communicate information clearly, in an easy to understand way. They must keep the attention of their trainees, be upbeat, animated and show that they are interested in the programs they are explaining.

What Do You Look For When Selecting A Trainer?

It is important that you look for employees within your crew that like the work they do and like the company. It is important that you single out prospective trainers who agree with the philosophies you practice in managing your facility. As you select, promote and educate them, be sure to teach them the procedures you want followed and tell them why each procedure is important to the success of the company. When you finally select a trainer from your existing crew, make sure you discuss all the material that the new trainer will be covering. Let them read the material they will be expected to cover in training, then allow them to comment on how they feel about each key point. If there is a disagreement between you and your trainer, discuss it and work out any differences you may have. The trainer may have a new point of view that you might not have considered.

What Happens If The Trainer Does Not Support The Message?

A great training presentation requires passion and enthusiasm. That can only happen when the trainer can support the words and message being delivered. If the trainer does not “buy into” the message, they may cover the material, but may also speed through those points of the presentation. If your trainer is at odds with the core values you embrace in running your operation, no one wins.

During my years as a trainer, if I were asked to present new material that I felt was not healthy for the employees or the company, I would not schedule classes until I could meet with my supervisor and resolve our differences. You never want to reach a point where the trainer is editing the syllabus without proper approval.

It is also important to allow your trainer to have a hand in selecting the stories that are told in class to support the training material. Training must be memorable to be effective. True-to-life examples will enhance the learning process, especially if the stories are humorous. Someone should review all stories to make sure the examples apply to the subject, are not off target, and are not offensive. However, letting the trainer select the support stories will ensure the trainer can remain comfortable and upbeat with his or her audience.

So What Now?
There are two types of trainers that are needed in running a successful operation. You have your corporate trainer that covers classes and trainings that present new employee orientation and company core values. They also present leadership training as workers are promoted. These trainers must reflect company philosophy. The other trainers are “task-oriented” trainers who only train workers on basic skills sets, such as cooking fries, running a ride, sweeping the grounds and other direct customer service tasks, without having to teach company philosophy.

The End Result

Managers must do a perfect job of selecting and educating a training crew that supports the ethics, philosophies and culture of the facility. Pick those enthusiastic, well-spoken and loyal employees to train your line workers, and use them and their skills correctly.

So, should trainers be required to train on subjects they disagree with? No, they should not. You need your core philosophy to be taught by those who support it and the values you have. Those trainers who cannot agree with a core subject should not teach that particular subject.

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12 Comments to “Matching Trainers to Your Core Values”
  1. Paul Warren says:

    That was a very insightful blog. I wonder how one should deal with employees who openly disagree with the material during the training session? What should one do when there is a challenge to the instructor
    or the employee is verbally outspoken during the training session? Thank you, Paul Warren

    • Dear Paul,

      Thanks for joining us and sharing a comment.

      A trainer should assume command and set the tone for the training session from the onset. Once the tone is set, it is easy to keep things on an even keel. One way to keep control in a group setting is to hold questions until the end of the class. If the discussion starts going sideways, you can ask the worker to stay after the training session to discuss the issue. If I need to, I will call a break and speak with the employee, privately. In my 45 years of training employees, I have had to address a challenge or an outspoken worker no more than five times. Professionalism, humor and enthusiasm can go a long way toward controlling your trainees.

      I hope that insight will be of some value. Thanks. – Allen

  2. Jay Douglas says:

    Very nice article. I personally was surprised at the recommendation that trainers should not be required to teach something they disagree with, but it does make perfect sense.

    • Dear Jay,

      I really appreciate your compliments. We are trying to provide some unique, but solid concepts that can help readers, yet spark some discussion. Trainers must be committed to the material to gain the workers respect and deliver lasting, good impressions. I am glad you agree with the ideas we shared with this topic. Thanks again for your support. – Allen

  3. Sue Brenner says:

    Great thoughts about opening dialog when a trainer may disagree with a training point. “If there is a disagreement between you and your trainer, discuss it and work out any differences you may have. The trainer may have a new point of view that you might not have considered.” Thanks for the tip, Allen.

    • Sue,

      I an honored to have such a respected industry trainer join our Blog and share your thoughts. Thanks for supporting our message. Training is not easy, and if disagreements between management and trainers cannot be resolved, it can only spell trouble for the organization down the road. Thanks, Sue, for taking time from your busy schedule to share your input with our readers. Warm regards, – Allen

  4. Paul says:

    What do you find is the best way to deal with disruptive managers who challenge the approved material being presented by a trainer?

    Is it important to have trainers administer a written test on the material they presented?

    Should an evaluation form be completed by the employees to grade the trainer’s performance?

    • Dear Paul,

      Thanks for your great questions.

      I support the concept that trainees be permitted to evaluate the trainer’s performance. I provide a printed evaluation form to all trainees and make sure they have time to fill it out at the end of the training session. Make sure they do not take evaluation forms with them to fill out and turn in later; you will seldom get the evals back.

      Testing is important. It documents their knowledge. It provides variety to the class. In addition, testing helps trainees remember the material. Unless a safety or a regulatory concern is in play, open-book testing is acceptable for the knowledge we impart in our industry.

      Managers should be seen and not heard if they observe a trainer’s class. That agreement should be understood before a class begins. Managers do have the privilege to review the trainer and the material, but as I said, those disagreements should be worked out before or after the class. If managers attend a class, they should take notes and talk to the trainer after the class is over, with any words of improvement.

      I hope my response is of some help. – Allen

  5. brian breen says:

    Nice read. You can’t fake passion nor enthusiasm.

    Just went through two-week “training,” which covered corporate policy and expectations. However, once “released” from training, the regional managers have their own set of training ideas and guidelines which had no semblance of the corporate training.

    Before I left the two-week training I asked the trainer if she wanted ME to request new training tools to help her train better (eg. white board, an AC system that actually worked, etc). She said that it wouldn’t do any good.

    So much for trying to help out the trainer who was good, but it turns out to be a waste of time because it wasn’t anywhere near reality.

    So, only have trainers that ARE passionate about what they do.

    Keep up the advice. Love real-life applications. Thanks.

    • Dear Brian,

      Thanks. I am glad you agree. You bring up a good point. Trainers have to be passionate about all phases of the training process, including prep and future improvements. As the Captain said in the movie Galaxy Quest, “Never give up. Never surrender.”

      Thanks. I will keep writing if you keep reading. How’s that for a deal? Best, – Allen

  6. Mark Hada says:

    I have the advantage and disadvantage of having a small, but rather elite staff working for me in a public safety capacity. Because of their specialty – public safety – there are many state-mandated requirements. I have been able to ask them what they want to train. Because I still have a training budget, I have been able to match wants and needs, and will put my training team, plus the staff they train, up against any other in the state and expect favorable results.

    • Dear Mark,

      You certainly do not need any advice from us experts. Sounds like you have mustered up the “dream team.” Congrats, on all the effort it took to create and maintain such a wonderful environment. Thanks for sharing with our readers. – Allen

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