You’ve heard the saying, “those that can’t do, teach.” In the corporate world they say the same thing about trainers. “They” aren’t necessarily wrong; there’s a lot of bad training and bad trainers out there. They’re not necessarily right, either. The best trainers have the ability to lift the performance of an entire organization. Navy SEALs, whose lives literally depend on their performance often quote the Greek poet Archilochus (650 BC): “We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.” And the training, more often than not, falls to the level of the trainer.
Trainers are indeed difference-makers when it comes to training outcomes. A beautifully designed workshop delivered by a mediocre trainer will be mediocre. But mediocre training delivered by a great trainer can influence a learner’s performance long after the workshop has ended.
Which begs the question: what qualities do the best trainers exhibit? Clearly all trainers must have the platform skills and the subject matter expertise to be credible with their audiences. But those are table stakes these days.
Ridge has been training trainers for 43 years. In our experience the “secret sauce” that separates great trainers from good trainers includes three qualities that pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers identified as empathy, authenticity, and respect. Simply put, when trainers exhibit empathy, authenticity, and respect (which result in the handy acronym “EAR”) they positively impact their students’ learning and do so in measurable ways.