Leading Edge Training Solutions

training trainers, supervisors and their teams


Subject Matter Experts don’t always make good Trainers

It happens often, and I can understand why. A person becomes the Subject Matter Expert (SME) in his or her field of expertise and as a result is chosen to train the new team members. In many cases however, the learner is frustrated – the teacher is going too fast, assumes prior knowledge, doesn’t give sufficient practice, doesn’t give helpful feed-back on progress. It’s not the SMEs fault. Far from it, they have the knowledge and skills on the subject matter but have never been taught the knowledge and skills required to facilitate a learning process.

A simple and yet immensely helpful concept, is for a SME to realise that they could be ‘unconsciously competent’. This occurs when a subject matter expert is so far ahead of the learner, that they are no longer conscious of the small steps or concepts the learner needs to acquire the new material.

We teach this concept and more, in our 2 day ‘On-Job Trainer’ course. The idea is documented in a model of learning called the Competence (or Learning) Ladder, although the diagrammatic representation is more like Competence Steps to me. The Model is attributed to a number of people and organisations but seems to have been first documented in 1969 by Martin Broadwell in the ‘Gospel Guardian’, an American Christian periodical.

When I was first introduced to the four-step model, some 18 years ago, I felt there should be a fifth step and added this to my own model. I have since seen others introduce a fifth step as well. Here is my version –

On the first step, Unconscious Incompetence, learners don’t know that they don’t know.
On the second, Conscious Incompetence, they are aware that they don’t know the subject.
On the third, Conscious Competence, they know how but have to concentrate to get it right.
On the fourth, Unconscious Competence, they are experienced and can do without thinking.
On the fifth, Conscious of Unconscious Competence, they are able to revisit stage 3 and teach others. Not every SME reaches this level, to do so usually requires the trainer/facilitator skills typically taught on an ‘On-Job Trainer’ course.

I have a more detailed and helpful article if you are interested. Give me a call or use our ‘Contact Us’ form.

Competence Ladder


What makes a good Supervisor?

This is not a new question, it’s been around a long time. What is clear is that a good supervisor is ‘worth his or her weight in gold’. It’s an important function in any organisation and the real question is, are we spending enough time and energy supporting those who are appointed as supervisors? Supervisors need two skillsets. (maybe more, but today I was thinking about two that really make a huge difference)

The first are the skills involved in the TASK they are supervising. So if the supervisor is supervising machine operators in a food factory, they should be experts in operating and problem solving on the machine. In addition there is knowledge of the food product, food safety and health and safety. Expertise in this area gives the supervisor confidence to supervise his or her team and also gives confidence to the people being supervised. This is the reason supervisors are often promoted from within.

But then there is the second skillset, the skill of leading people. Although these skills, and there are a complex combination of skills here, are called ‘soft skills’, they are in fact very hard to acquire and to do well. Some people seem to have a natural aptitude it pick up these skills, but to others this is a long and hard process. And to be sure, like any skill in life, no two supervisors are going to end up with the same ability to execute each of the complex skills that make up the skillset of supervisory leadership. Our 2 day Supervisory Leadership course attempts to give supervisors a taste of just some of these skills. But to make a difference, they have to come prepared to change, to try out the new knowledge and skills on the job and (a very big AND), to receive support and ongoing coaching back on the job. I say it again because it’s worth repeating - You cannot expect a person who has been on a course to change much, if you don’t give them the support, tools, encouragement, opportunity, time ongoing coaching.

My advice? Take time to identify the competencies required by each of your supervisors, take time to evaluate, with their input as well, their level on each of the competencies. Help them develop the skills and knowledge identified, supporting them all the way. It’s a big job and you may want some help, but it’s important, it makes a difference and it’s rewarding, in more ways than one.

Supervisors 3cSupervisors 2b

Secure Websites

Have you ever wondered what the little lock is, next to a websites web address? If you look there right now you will see the lock and depending on your browser it may be green and have the word ‘secure’. (If you don’t see it, refresh your page)

The lock and the https designation indicate we have a SSL certificate and HTTPS connection. In simple terms this means all communications between your browser and our site are securely encrypted. This would be vital if you were parting with your credit card info (which you aren’t 😃) but in any event, any information we share is safe.

We are told that from July this year Google Chrome will be marking a website as “Not Secure” if it is not protected with a SSL certificate. Having said that, I have just clicked on a little information icon, on a site without SSL, and a warning popped up that my connection to that site was ‘not secure’. It goes on to warn that I should not enter any sensitive information. So there you have it. If you are a small business owner and don’t yet have the lock icon that represents a secure website, it may be in your interest to talk with your web host. I would be happy to share my layman web enthusiast perspectives if you would like to chat.

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 8.46.17 PM

Computer based tools for Trainers

In our IMPACT! training for trainers course we discuss and demonstrate some of the multi-sensory tools that trainers have at their disposal. Given the time we have for this section, we hardy touch sides, there are so many possibilities out there. Despite the detractors who (rightly so) warn against ‘death by powerpoint’, Powerpoint (and in my case Keynote) remains the number 1 ‘go-to’ tool for the trainers in my courses.

So I was interested to find an article (on a google search of course) where Jane Hart compiled the Top 100 Tools for Learning in 2015 from the votes of over 2,000 learning professionals worldwide. I suggest you follow the link to her website where you can explore all 100. I discovered that I personally use 7 of the top 10, which I list here.

1. Twitter - nope, I must confess that I’m not into twitter. 2. YouTube - yes, it’s a rich source of short video clips that can add value to a data show. 3. Google search - what can I say, a rich source of information and more. 4. Google Docs - no, I use the Microsoft and Apple suite of tools to generate course material. 5. Powerpoint - well yes, but being an Apple fan I most usually use Keynote, unless I leave a client with a complete training module, in which case I customise it in Powerpoint. 6. Dropbox - yes very useful for transferring large files and sets of pictures to my learners. 7. Facebook - well yes we do have a Facebook page, please go in and
Like, if you like us that is Winking 8. WordPress - well no, we develop our website (this one) in Rapidweaver which we are really happy with and it’s great for Mac users. 9. Skype - yes, when I travel Skype is a great way to keep in touch with clients. I guess it could also be used to communicate with learners but so far I have found that we are able to communicate well via emails when I am away. 10. Evernote - Yes its now my go-to app for recording information that I may want to access on my computer and my phone.

I’m interested that Prezi came in at number 11. We talk about it and I demonstrate its use on our ‘train the trainer’ courses but I have yet to find someone who comes into the course having used it. I am aware of one of my learners (my son Happy ) who went away inspired and used it to good effect within an important presentation he had to make.

What are your top go-to training/learning tools? It would be great to get further input into tried and tested tools and their application.

tools for trainers

What is Teamwork?

I was at the beach the other day and watched with interest as a few blokes worked together to pull in and attach their fishing boat to the boat trailer, which had been backed into the water by one of them in his car.

The process was not straight forward, requiring some skill on the part of the driver and some strength and co-ordination on the part of the others. This was clearly a case of TEAMWORK in action. It got me thinking again about what was required for a bunch of people working or playing together, to be an effective team.

The first thing is a clearly communicated and mutually bought into objective or goal - a common purpose.
Secondly - Clearly known and understood individual roles, for which the team members have the ability and training.
Thirdly - Coordination, so that people are in the right place at the right time doing the right things. This could be achieved by the team themselves if they are fully experienced and in tune with each other and if 1 and 2 are in place. However in most instances this requires that one of them is in a leadership role.

In the case of the friends with the boat, the task would have been achieved more efficiently if all 3 requirements were in place. Having said that, they clearly had a common purpose, fighting the waves to get the boat onto the trailer. They looked tired. I hope they were able to celebrate success with some freshly grilled fish.

What are your views on the characteristics of effective teams?