How consulting skills can make you a better trainer
For Nathan Sykes, an obvious place to draw inspiration for training skills is in consulting.
Being a trainer means relating to a variety of people and being able to help them with the specific and often unique problems they have. To help people adequately, you need to have a lot of different skill sets. The most important skills you could have as a trainer are people skills, meaning getting on their level and being able to help.
One profession that focuses on getting to know people is consulting. Consultants work their business magic from the outside to help clients with a wide range of problems. Understanding those problems and helping is what makes the difference, which should sound familiar. Here are some consulting skills that trainers should learn.
Listen carefully and navigate the conversation
This first skill is more of a foundation or framework for all the others that come after. Listening to the employee and understanding what their problems are, along with what their approaches to the problems have been so far, is the first step to knowing what you need to do.
Listening requires more work than you may think.
Any attempts to push your own agenda may not work if you don't understand the person you're training.
Listening requires more work than you may think. You have to parse out the important bits of what you're being told, push aside the unnecessary fluff and translate what they're saying into a workable problem. Dot-to-dot literacy helps, which is to make connections between different ideas without them seeming to go together.
Once you figure out how to navigate a conversation like a consultant, you'll know what needs to be done.
Ask deeper questions
One of the best ways to navigate a conversation properly is to always ask the right questions. You have to find the important parts of the conversation and ask appropriate questions. Probing too much into unimportant territory will only waste time and have the employee or client lose trust in you.
This stage is where you have to understand the difference between important pieces of context and extra fluff. You have to identify and discard the unimportant information to find the truth. Sometimes, employees may try to sugarcoat problems or make things seem better than they are.
You have to get to the heart of the situation by asking deeper questions to draw out information from insinuation.
Build on what's there
Again, trying to change the business or employees' work ethic to your own agenda will not work. You have to keep an outsider perspective and not go in with the mindset that you can change everything. In other words, you have to keep an open mind and stay flexible while also being firm enough with your solutions that they'll take.
Striking the proper balance can be difficult and seem daunting, but everything comes down to how much you push yourself toward the company. Certain exercises and training suggestions online show how to approach a similar situation.
All you have to do is pick a business, apply some frameworks, develop helpful strategies and create a concise presentation based on your findings.
Don't force it - implement workable solutions
You have some influence in the company as a trainer, but you don't want to be in too much control. Having direct power to enforce changes will only work with employees some of the time. You have to know what changes will work and pose them as suggestions.
Getting your suggestions to take includes being influential enough to show how they can make the company and employees better. Making your suggestions influential includes believing they'll work.
You have to create solutions the other employees will believe in and show them clear results for taking on your idea. If your suggestion is bad for the company or the employees have doubts, the solution will not work no matter how much positive material you bring to the table.
Know when to walk away
After everything is said and done, you have to know when to back off and let the company run without you. It's time to see and recognize success, understand when you've done all you can and let things go. Much like removing the training wheels, the employees and company need to work without you to continue their success.
The solutions you offered should be able to grow and flourish without your help.
A big part of stepping back is to give credit where credit is due. Celebrate the success of the employees you trained, and give them the confidence to know they can do this without more training. The confidence of the employees may make or break the company, so making sure they all know they can do their jobs well is part of your mission.
Consulting and training
Both work to improve the work ethic of others from the outside, and both want to leave the employees with a sense of accomplishment. Knowing what to influence and when to let go is just as important as learning how to converse with others.
To be a great trainer, you have to understand different points of view, so allowing yourself to learn from others is all part of the same job.
About the author
Nathan Sykes enjoys writing about the latest in business technology. To read his latest articles, check out his blog, Finding an Outlet.
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