So you’ve been asked to optimize your training program. What do you do? This is part 4 of a four part series that will spell it all out and give you what you need to create a world class training program.
- Part 1 – Hire the right training candidates
- Part 2 – Train the trainers
- Part 3 – Coach the trainers one-on-one
- Part 4 – [You Are Here] Optimize the trainers moving forward
This blog covers part 4: How to you optimize your trainers with a world-class training program you can be proud of.
Years ago I decided I was going to start a Trainer Education Program at one of the largest healthcare software corporation in the world with 150 trainers on staff. I met with the Head of Training to propose an innovative program to improve learning transfer, trainee experience and reduce trainer burnout/turnover. He said “I see the need to provide this program for all new trainers, but why would we want to extend the offer to seasoned trainers–they are getting great evals, their trainees love them, they are learning a ton from them and they’re happy?” I introduced him to the concept of “The White Belt Mentality”– also known as beginners mind.
When I taught high school I came across the notion of the best of the best teachers always getting better. I was awestruck by this and had to figure out why. I learned that the best of the best get (and stay) that way because they are constantly working to become better and humble themselves to the process—“White Belt Mentality”.
Look at the best tennis players in the world, they have coaches. Now, can their coaches beat them on the court, probably not but that’s not the point. The question: is can these coaches help these top athletes get better? Absolutely! And no one questions this. In my experience with thousands of trainers, the best trainers want to be coaches; they seek feedback, learning and challenges. There are so many benefits to them getting coaching but I have found the trainers with this “White Belt Mentality” to be the exception, not the rule. That is not to say that a “White Belt mentality” cannot be cultivated. I have actually found a way to train coaches to inspire others to as I call it “climbs an even higher mountain”.
The “White Belt Trainer” has an excitement for learning. There’s a strong appreciation for always having “A new mountain to climb”. It’s seeking out the best techniques, coaches, and mentors. They thrive being the learners too. You allow them to learn how to fly higher in ways authentic to who they are as individuals by implementing a program that embraces and rewards the white belt. The best only get better because of habits like getting a coach. At the end of the day, seeking the “White Belt” mentality is a personal choice and depends on internal motivations based on WHY a person is a trainer, WHAT their goals are for themselves and the people they teach and WHO they want to be as a trainer.
3 Steps to Encourage the White Belt Mentality and Optimize your Training Program
Step 1: Find strengths and ensure that strengths are being utilized so they stay powerful.
Start with a Trainer Dashboard. It’s a snapshot of the progress a trainer has made in their development. Here’s the dashboard for a recent seasoned trainer I coached. Notice below that it captures what the trainer has accomplished during the coaching process thus far. This is fantastic to do for new trainers so that you can move on to step 2 below: Identify the next mountain to climb.
Step 2: Identify the next mountain to climb.
Next, you want to encourage the trainer to focus on future goals. I spent 4,680 hours researching, observing & giving feedback to hundreds trainers. I spent another 4,825 hours training trainers based on this research and observation. One thing I discovered is that the average trainer can only handle 3 goals at a time to focus on moving forward. The key to optimize a training program, then, is to continually substitute new goals for the goals that have recently been accomplished.
Below is a picture of what that looks like for the seasoned trainer above. Notice that the three goals to work on moving forward are highlighted in yellow.
Step 3: Look for authentic ways to soar above where you have been.
The last step is to encourage your seasoned trainers to become white belts. To do this, first create and offer a class that will be offered to seasoned trainers who want to get better to be held just once a year for these top trainers to collaborate and learn from each other. Your “White Belt” leaders will immerge here.
Assign them to be what I call a “Yoda”. These “Yoda’s” embody the “White Belt Mentality”. Offer them learning and training opportunities from a Master Yoda. They then will observe the trainers and gather specific positive feedback based on what they see, hear and feel while observing the trainer in the classroom to build awareness for the trainer about their strengths.
A great trainer is aware of their strengths and uses them to further the learning of their audience every time. This is very powerful knowledge that gets overlooked and sometimes, when there is not awareness about strengths, there are many missed learning opportunities and atrophy can occur.
Most trainers I have worked with have a lifelong passion for learning. This love of learning is actually the key to cultivating and maintaining an appreciation for “White Belt Mentality” vs. a black belt mentality. The “Black Belt Mentality” focuses on a finite “mastery” point, or a finish line. It has an air of “Ok, now that I have mastered this subject, I can train on this subject”.
And herein lies a big problem, most trainers love to learn. With this “Black Belt Mentality”, learning ends and this is where what I call “trainer-drain” begins. Boredom can set it. Learning decreases. With the White Belt mentality, the learning is always going to be a part of the process and I see trainers with amazing energy, focus and motivation spring forward. It prevents anyone from getting stuck in a rut. Staying with what you know is comfortable but you do not grow.
Here are a few White Belt trainers for you to meet…
Carlos’ Story –
A financial professional and trainer who loves to learn. He embodies the “White Belt Mentality”. We take turns being the learner and sharing with each other. In a “Black-Belt” environment it becomes about “who knows more” or who is “the master”. In a “White-Belt” environment, it’s just the opposite! We actually fight over who gets to be the learner because we each love being in the learner role! With this shared mentality we come up with amazing ideas for training programming.
Natasha’s Story –
When a “Trainer Education Process” was introduced at a major corporation a few years back it was meant to be for new trainers. Natasha, a top trainer, well known, well loved, seasoned trainer requested that she be a part of the process. She sought out coaching. After she went through the process she said she, “Had a renewed respect and enjoyment for training. Honestly, I was starting to get bored with being a trainer and feeling really drained. I was so refreshed by this process and now I have two years worth of material to implement.”
Jeremiah and Dylan’s Story –
Two best of the best, top trainers in their organization requested coaching. Their employer brought me in and for me it was amazing to see them in action. They both clearly know their strengths and how to utilize them in a training environment. They were looking for feedback and craved validation for what they were accomplishing from a coach who had the eye for seeing what they were doing right, letting them know and then helping them to find new challenges-new mountains to strive for and ways to become ever more authentic while in front of their audience. White-belt to the “nth” degree – they couldn’t wait to get a coach in the room with them.
So what are your thoughts about optimizing your training program?
If you are a Training Manager, how do you keep you white belt mentality for yourself, encourage it or recognize it in other trainers at your organizations? Post your comments on our Facebook page.
What to know more about creating a world class training program?
Check out Coaching Trainers Mastery