Remember when you had that one teacher, the one that made the material come to life and left a lasting impact on your learning?

Instructors are what make and break the success of a training course. Whether it’s live, instructor-led training, or done online via virtual ILT, choosing the best instructors and subject matter experts to lead your training is critical to delivering a positive learning experience and a positive training ROI. In this post, we break down the key components of what to look for when choosing the trainers to lead your courses.

Picking and Choosing Trainers is Difficult Work

Selecting trainers to lead training courses may seem like a simple task but is much more difficult than one would expect. L&D teams know exactly what we’re talking about, but for those venturing into the world of managing instructor-led training for the first time, here’s a quick overview: it’s a lot of work.

Picking subject matter experts and qualified instructors falls into a special category of training management science for L&D called learning operations. Simply put, the goal for back-office L&D specialists is to ensure that every training session, in-person or online, is led by a qualified trainer who can get learners to meet specific training objectives.

However, from an operational standpoint, the goal for L&D teams is to deliver a positive training ROI for the organization and the team (More on this later).

Why is Choosing the Right Trainer for Instructor-led Courses So Difficult?

The sheer number of training courses that need to be provided for medium and large organizations is what makes choosing instructor selection so difficult for most L&D managers. Training coordinators are tasked with ensuring their instructors’ quality is consistent with the quantity of courses.

In addition, trainers must adapt to different models of training delivery. Learning and development space has changed rapidly over the past decade due to a variety of variables: New learning technology, employees around the globe, training standardization by industry, and professional growth by employees. That’s just naming only a few factors that have contributed towards a shift in how L&D has taken on a transformative role within organizations. Their responsibility has changed from the training department that provides simple mandatory 1-on-1 courses for employees to one overseeing more complex learning objectives.  For example, World Flight Services was tasked with providing scalable training for its 10,000 employees globally using instructor-led training methods.

While the last sentence above can seem like a hypothetical situation for L&D teams, it’s a reality for most who are in the business of providing training solutions.

But we’re just getting started on what makes scheduling for ILT so difficult! Beneath that, learning specialists must also look for key indicators from a managerial perspective to ensure the learning operation can be executed properly. These can include:

Balancing Ratios

Namely student-instructor ratios and instructor-course ratios. Are there too many learners for an instructor to handle in one course? Is the instructor leading too many courses for any period?

Professional Certifications and Qualifications

Is the subject matter expert a subject matter expert? For most L&D teams, trainers must be vetted and proofed by professional organizations showing advanced proficiency in the material being taught.

Language of Instruction

With organizations taking their products and services across the globe, it’s an important step to ensure that the same quality training in one language can be provided in another team member’s native tongue.

Availability and Geographical Location

With the previous point mentioned, it’s critical to have SMEs and certified instructors available locally to meet your organization’s expanding global operations. Even when conducting virtual instructor-led training, time zones can harm delivering a quality training experience.

Even with the explosion of eLearning modules and self-paced learning, the data still stands true: instructor-led training (ILT) remains the preferred and most successful form of training delivery. According to a study by Wainhouse Research on the state of learning, Millennials, Gen Z, and learners above age 49 preferred ILT as the preferred method of learning delivery as it allowed access to the subject matter expert in real-time and after the session had ended. Additionally, an observational study on learning satisfaction by Summers, Waigandt & Whitaker found that learners were significantly less satisfied with online learning delivery models compared with in-person instruction.

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8 Key Qualities to Look for When Choosing Your Trainers

1. Exceptional Communication Skills

Communication is the most important quality to have for any instructor.  According to Wharton School professor Jonah Berger, the ability to communicate with confidence leads to effective persuasion. Trainers must be well-spoken on the course material and know how to actively listen when questions are asked. Passion for the course material, and importantly, humor as well, create memorable experiences and connections that learners will not soon forget.

Why is communication at the top of our list? When trainers articulate the intricacies of the learning material with passion and confidence, it creates a sense of assurance to learners that they’re in the presence of a true subject matter expert.

2. Empathy to Learner Needs and Wants

Understanding the learner goes beyond prior learning data at the instructor level. In a study by Harvard Business School, possession of emotional intelligence showed a strong positive correlation with leadership performance in the classroom. Metrics can communicate L&D about where they need improvement but only instructors can make changes in how learners are receptive to those changes.

Employees may express the need to learn new skills but may want to do so without so many courses. Instructors must be flexible in catering to both to the best of their ability. When instructors have an awareness of their students’ preferences, they’ll be able to masterfully orchestrate their students to cooperate and excel in the course.

3. Encourages Classroom Engagement

Even for virtual instructor-led training, talking heads are nothing to get excited about. A live online training course with just an instructor speaking will only draw interest from learners who will more than likely treat it as background noise.

Why is instructor engagement so important? When trainers can incorporate learners into the course material, they’re allowing the learners to apply the fundamentals of the lesson in practice. Research from Stanford Graduate School of Education found that increased levels of engagement between instructors, students, and course material was a positive indicator of learning material as opposed to previous individual test scores. Whether it’s as simple as asking a question or having one the learners participate in a live demonstration. Especially in the realm of employee training and development space, high instructor engagement can make concepts more practical in the real work setting.

4. Time Management and Course Leadership

Tangents are inevitable during training courses. Instructors will talk about personal anecdotes related to the learning material and students will have questions that may carry the course way off task. We’re not saying instructors shouldn’t have any regular human-to-human talk about everyday life, but too much of it can do more harm than good.

Professional trainers are objective about time. In-person training has a set start and finish time on selected dates. With that in mind, instructors must lead the course toward the learning objective of the day. When trainers compound this every day during the session, they’re ensuring that employees get the best ROI on training.

Where can the best trainers and SMEs be utilized? Learn more:

>> Designing an Employee Development Program

>> Training Course Types for Professional Growth

5. Instructional Design and Formatting

Planning and organizing well-structured training courses and providing applicable content is an understated quality of good instructors. The training material that instructors provide whether it is a series of Word documents or simply a run-of-the-mill PowerPoint usually defines the efficacy of the instructor.

This isn’t always the case. As subject matter experts in their fields, instructors must have a solid understanding of what content is appropriate and engaging and what methods will work best in developing a positive training ROI and increasing subject comprehension.

If the training material they’re provided by the L&D team isn’t engaging, they will have the tact to disregard it and use material better suited and engaging to fit the learners.

6. Identifies Training Needs Analysis and Learning Objectives

Instructors and subject matter experts receive the “mission” from L&D on what they need to be accomplished for learners.

If not already provided by the HR or L&D team, instructors will normally run a training needs assessment (TNA) first to better understand the goals of the learners and the organization as a whole so they can better grasp how they can manage individual learning objectives

7. Implements New Learning Trends When Needed

To add to the importance of course design and formatting, trainers are experimental in that they’re always looking for better and more effective ways to deliver training to their students. Effective trainers stay on top of current research and trends in T&D methodology as well as the latest tech being utilized in the L&D space.

Trainers will understand that with each learning delivery model, they have yet another instructional tool in their arsenal. From microlearning and mobile app learning to virtual reality replacing in-person on-the-job training, instructors will use their best judgment and experience to utilize what serves learners best in their situation.

For example, if a global company requires vast training on a new but complex IT system, they may opt to use webinars and spaced online learning modules as opposed to in-person classroom instruction. Perhaps, they may opt to utilize a blended learning where webinars are replaced with ILT sessions in the work area for those near select training locations.

8. Constructive Criticism and Willingness to Improve

The best trainers and instructors are always looking to improve their teaching methodologies and their roles as T&D specialists. How do instructors know if they’re falling short of expectations from their learners or their clients? Most L&D teams allow learners to provide feedback on completed courses in the form of surveys and questionnaires. This training data is one of the most important pieces of data a training team could receive because it allows them to know where they can improve.

Why is self-improvement important for trainers? When instructors and trainers in any discipline constantly improve their craft they’re only making themselves more in-demand in their selected industry. Higher demand only equates to more professional opportunities and asking power from training providers for their services. It’s the constant sharpening of their skills and the addition of new ones make them irreplaceable assets for the L&D team’s arsenal.

When an instructor with strong qualifications and high reviews is searched for in the L&D team’s instructor collaboration portal, you can bet learning specialists will be making an effort to book them.

Simplifying the Trainer Selection Process with a Training Management System (TMS)

In the same way that your instructors are the catalyst for successful learners, L&D teams are the catalyst for providing a well-planned and executed training operation.

With the changing role of L&D in leading the future of work, along with the increased demand of ILT-based courses, training managers must have a complete overview of their trainer selection process.

Training Management Software like Training Orchestra provides learning delivery teams with a robust set of tools to manage learning programs requiring efficient instructor selection and management.

Choosing which trainers to assign to courses tends to be the most tedious of duties for learning specialists.

Designed to reduce the amount of administrative work and spreadsheet use when choosing trainers, the integrated trainer catalog allows training managers to filter from their roster of full-time and part-time trainers and instructors as well as subject matter experts so that your training delivery team can find the facilitator that is best-suited to lead your training based on any criteria that you determine such as:

  • Scheduled availability
  • Skill sets
  • Geographic location/proximity to training sites
  • Language of instruction
  • Professional certifications and licenses
  • And more

On the other hand, the instructor collaboration portal gives assigned training instructors access to their own dedicated portal, where they have transparency into everything they need to easily collaborate with the training delivery team and organize their assigned training and availability.

Within the dedicated portal, trainers can:

  • Review details on assigned training sessions including course duration, assignments, and session information.
  • Take action on their task and todo lists.
  • Access course documents.
  • List their availability for ILT or VILT training sessions to relay to the training team.
  • Submit their interest in facilitating open courses that have been posted, or “advertised”, by the training delivery team.

With Training Orchestra’s instructor catalog and dedicated trainer collaboration portal, finding, assigning and collaborating with your instructors and SMEs to lead your in-person or virtual ILT sessions has never been easier!

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For over 20 years, Training Orchestra has helped over 600 training companies, corporate L&D departments, and associations worldwide to address instructor-led training operations management challenges for their employee, customer, partner, or member training programs. We’ve crafted the perfect training management system to address the most critical needs of corporate L&D and training businesses.

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