Blog posts

Should I Train the Trainer for my training needs?

Devorah (she~her) Allen-Solorio, MBA, CPLP

That’s a great question! Training employees from day one is an important way to integrate them into not only their jobs, but the organization as a whole. Knowing whether it is a good idea to train someone internally to handle this needs some reflection.

One question is, what will employees be trained on? Well, most companies start with Onboarding (previously called Orientation). Today, Onboarding can last from one day to up to two weeks, depending on their level in the organization and the level to which you want them fully integrated into the life of the company. Will the internal person be able to onboard the new employee in a way that will create an excitement in the new-hire to stay and grow? Will they be a dedicated resource that will not have to set aside normal duties to spend several days doing the Onboarding?

Then you have job-specific training, compliance training and then (hopefully and very importantly) soft-skills and development training. Will the internal trainer be qualified to train on job-specific knowledge or skills? Will the internal trainer know the laws and regulations necessary for compliance in your industry? Finally, would your internal trainer know how to motivate adults? Command a room? Handle difficult participants? Impart the knowledge in a way that the participants will accept and even champion when they leave the room?

These are not academic questions. In asking someone to be a trainer, you are asking them to understand what motivates adults, how to engage them, to confidently stand up in front of a group of their peers and impart knowledge and passion. You don’t just want training, either. You want results! These are all skills that belong to a group of people that spend years learning them. Training people is as much art as it is the ability to create and hand out job aids.

So, it sounds like you are saying I should not do Train the Trainer.

Well, that depends. Train the Trainer can be a good option for a limited amount of training.

Train the Trainer can be a good option, for instance, for training Rules and Regulations (such as how to prevent bank fraud), Safety Culture and Procedures and on Prevention of Sexual Harassment (all compliance-related). Not to say that these are easy – they still require time and mentoring to learn and be able to convey in a manner that participants will accept – but it can be an option.

They can also impart limited job skills and knowledge (based on their own experience). We usually call these folks Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). They do not formally hold the role of trainer, but can be trained to impart their own job knowledge in a way that others can understand. I would spend at least a day or two training SMEs in adult learning theory and allow them to practice until they get the feel for it. Not all SMEs can be good trainers, although there are some out there that can be.

The more difficult training, which I personally do not recommend for Train the Trainer, is for soft-skills and personal development. This requires not only an intimate knowledge on material and course content that most people do not already know if they haven’t trained for it, but also an understanding of adult learning theory. A second reason is that an internal person, known as they are as a fallible human being from co-workers and management alike, is not likely to receive the support and acceptance as an expert worthy to speak on many topics. They are, in a sense, under a microscope and, as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt.

This may be an unfair judgement, to be sure, depending on the trainer. However in my own experience, participants are rarely forgiving to a fellow employee when they are asked to step into a role as expert trainer. In addition, a trainer should have experience in and the ability to create course content (for e-learning and/or for in-person training) that will yield a desired outcome, and even some experience as a consultant – having to navigate silos, inter-department collaboration issues and in navigating the world of HR and upper management.

What should we do then? If your budget allows, hire someone with experience in training, learning and development or talent development to fill the role of internal trainer. This person should have at least 2-3 years of experience in training others, and preferably, some type of certification. The Association of Talent Development has a few options. They offer the APTD – the Associate Professional in Talent Development. This is for those with 3 years of experience in the field or two years plus college or plus other ATD certifications. Then you have the CPLP – Certified Professional in Learning and Performance now being renamed CPTD – Certified Professional in Talent Development. This certification is for those with at least five years of experience and much broader knowledge in the field of human capabilities and much broader scope of knowledge in the talent development field.

Well, what if I don’t have the budget to spend $50,000-$100,000 to hire a training professional?

No problem! Then another good option is to hire an outside training consultant. There are many great consultants out there that are CPLP or CPTD certified or have a masters in teaching or training adults. Consultants generally become consultants because they are already experts in their field and want to work for themselves. Consultants will typically work with your HR team to find out what learning outcomes are needed and then work backwards to create course content specific to your company’s needs. Consultants also have prepared training on a host of subjects such as Teamwork, Communication, Problem Solving, Project Management, Leadership, Management, Customer Service, Leadership for Women, Diversity & Inclusion, Prevention of Sexual Harassment and a wide variety of other courses.

Can I afford an outside consultant? YES!

Many consultants will charge by the hour or a day rate and cover large areas (such as I cover California, Arizona and Nevada). This can be a cost-effective option as you only pay the consultant for the training you need. A good consultant can even help you create a training plan to be used for the following year’s budget (and the more budget the more training you can offer!). A training consultant can also do Train the Trainer for those subjects mentioned above and they can also train an SME on how to train their subject matter.

So, should I do a Train the Trainer? Should I hire a full-time trainer? Should I hire an outside consultant?

My answer might surprise you: YES to all three!

You can do Train the Trainer for those classes that you really need to do yearly, but you can have the employee do another job for non-training days. This person may even become a part-time trainer. They will need to stay abreast of changing regulations, or you can have an agreement with a consultant to provide yearly updates as part of a Train the Trainer agreement.

You can hire someone to be a full-time trainer that can deliver classes and train SMEs. Many times your internal full-time trainer will train on job-specific changes (such as new software), maintain training records and maintain the training budget so HR doesn’t have to. They are also always available for new job-specific training when you need them.

You can and should hire outside training consultants for: specialized training (such as Prevention of Sexual Harassment, Diversity & Inclusion, Workplace Violence, etc) and also to train on subjects your internal trainer may not have expertise in, or that you need a fresh non-employee perspective on, such as: Leadership, Employee Performance, Personal Productivity, Basic Project Management, personality assessments that will reinforce certain communication or teamwork behaviors, Presentation Skills, Problem-solving and much more.

Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about this topic, if you’d like to discuss Train the Trainer opportunities, Train the SME, starting an Onboarding program, creating an internal training department, or if you’d like me to come train as an outside consultant. My website gives details on all the courses I currently offer in both English and Spanish. I train any size group in-person, at your facility. I am professional and knowledgeable but also funny and approachable. I also offer consulting services on any of the above.

Please contact me at:

Rosa Parks Talk at TWW

I had the honor to address the local political group Together We Will on multiple occasions. On this occasion in February of 2017 I opened with a short talk on Rosa Parks, a strong female that, looking out for herself, made a huge impact on the world. I hope we can all learn from this lesson. This video is just a short excerpt of that talk.

Video credit: Priscilla Sanders

Copyright Devorah Allen 2018. All rights reserved.

When Life is Uncertain – Part II

Internal Adaptation

In part one we said that we have to externally adapt to new situations – a new job, a new place to live, new friends, a new single life, etc, and that when we do that we ALSO  have to adapt internally, which can affect our self identity.

  • We question who we really are – our Self Concept
  • We question what good we can contribute to the world – our Self-Esteem
  • We question what we are really even doing here – Self Awareness
  • We feel like we are alone or no one understands us – Social Awareness

Self Concept Is our perception of who we are and what we can handle/what we are capable of doing. This includes the knowledge, talent and potential necessary for success. This is why it is so important to use each interaction after an adaptation as a chance to learn, to gain the knowledge and skills needed to adapt to this new environment.

How does this relate to ‘fake it till you make it’ when life doesn’t stop and we need to perform even when we are no longer in possession of the knowledge we need to succeed? Will talent and charisma temporarily bridge the knowledge/skill gap?

When we do ‘fake it till we make it’ and we do make a mistake, do we (self concept) believe we can learn from the mistake? Can we handle the rejection or disapproval of others when we don’t measure up? Approval is like a drug. If we crave the approval of others we begin to value their opinion of us over our own. Our decision-making process now changes to being unable to do anything without the approval of another person.

Can we, instead, look at the disapproval as simply a challenge to improve? If we do, we already win, because viewing it in a positive way will bolster our self concept. We are learning and growing by taking on this challenge because we are engaging ourselves to learn how to do something better, adding to our arsenal of capabilities.

Self-Esteem – Is confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; faith in oneself. 

When we know we are going to have to swing out to a new platform, now is a great time to do Self-Affirmations. Self-Affirmations are not the same thing as positive affirmations.

Self-Affirmations are thoughts about yourself that focus on qualities or abilities that you actually possess that you know have value and worth in the real world, such as, “I am a quick learner and therefore I will adapt quickly” or “I can see root causes quickly and know how to fix them”.

Positive affirmations are idealized versions of yourself, such as, “I will find great success!” or “I deserve the best!”.

The time to do a Self-Affirmation is before the possible rejection. Affirm to yourself your qualities and abilities before important meetings, big changes or when your anxiety is going to be the highest.

When we do make a mistake, and we receive the disapproval of others, if we do not have confidence in our own worth or abilities, this can even further reduce our performance. This is a vicious circle. As an adaptation, we MUST believe in ourselves and have faith in ourselves, that we WILL learn the new ropes, learn the new job, be able to find our way around a new town, find new friends, find a new partner (if we want one), heal.

When we look at the disapproval of others as a challenge, however, this allows our self-esteem to remain in tact.

Think about two people – 

One is an expert at one area their entire lives. Let’s call this person Sam. Sam has spent all his  time doing this one thing and getting better and better at it. In his life everything remains static.

The second person – let’s call her Chloe – has had many major changes. From the dock, Chloe   grabbed the rope and has swung out to new platforms OVER AND OVER. Will she ever become an expert again like Sam? Sure, but to what degree? That depends. Over the course of a life does Chloe swing out to 5 platforms? 10? 20? How long has she been on this last platform? So, the short answer is that YES, Chloe can become an expert as well as (or better than) Sam. Why? Because at some equilibrium point any level of expertise tapers off and levels out. There is nothing more to learn about that subject.

So Chloe, by swinging out to that platform, has increased the breadth of her knowledge and eventually catches up (or pretty darn close to it) to Sam. Furthermore, Chloe has increased her level of skills and capabilities more than Sam. Why? Because Sam has only the experience of one platform. This swinging back and forth, that felt so horrible at the time, has increased the adaptability of Chloe and thus her value to an organization and even to herself and her loved ones. At this point, after all she has gone through, she can adapt to just about anything!

So, swinging out to new platforms increases our own Self-Concept and Self-Esteem.

Self-Awareness Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives and desires. Being knowledgeable or informed.

In addition, the more Chloe learns, the more she understands that she knows very little about the things that she doesn’t know.  This self-awareness needs to be the first thing she attends to. She needs to know how she reacts to things, what her triggers are, what she likes. What she doesn’t like. What her values are. What is important to her. From there, this self-awareness leads to a broader Social Awareness.

Social Awareness – has to do with understanding how we react to different social situations and effectively modifying our interactions with other people to achieve the best results.

In the grand scheme of life, Chloe sees that there is room for differing interpretations and understandings about people, culture and what change/adaptation can do (good/bad) to a person. She can see that people are just busy. It isn’t that they don’t care. She is never really alone if she will be the first to reach out to someone else and tell them she needs help. Also, many times this broad social awareness allows for a more liberal viewpoint than someone like Sam who has only ever had one dock and never swung out on any ropes. It helps Chloe to know that she should not judge others so harshly. Maybe they are going through a lot too? Sometimes people are swinging out on ropes and we don’t even know it. How any of us interact with others many times determines our level of success.

Benefits of Going Through Uncertainty

I have good news! All that uncertainty that made life horrible for a little while comes with benefits!

  • People gravitate to those who aren’t afraid to swing out on ropes. This can be a very good thing. New friends and opportunities will come out of it, for sure!
  • People who swing on ropes know how to do things others do not know – because they had to spend the time to learn a broad variety of knowledge, learn new skills and new capabilities.
  • They are seen as brave. It can be very scary to swing out on ropes, and people realize that.
  • People who swing on ropes are interesting and fascinating – almost as if they are some new alien species that has done things that ‘normal’ people could/would never do. #lifegoaldontbebasic 
  • After swinging on ropes, rope-swingers know that failure is normal and to be expected, and therefore freak out a lot less when they have to adapt to something new.
  • After swinging on ropes, rope-swingers know that there are LOTS of platforms out there to land on, even if temporarily.
  • After being out there on other platforms, a rope-swinger can JUMP to similar platforms without too much extra effort. #Bonus
  • Rope-swingers have come to understand that every time they swing out they learn how to do it better and adapt more quickly to the new platform. This creates ever-increasing success.

So…Uncertainty? It sure doesn’t feel good while it’s happening, but we have the ability to adapt – both internally and externally – to just about anything that comes our way.

So, hang in there ok? And reach out to someone who cares about you if you are hanging on a rope and can’t find that platform under your outstretched foot.

Copyright Devorah Allen 2018. All rights reserved.