Training the Trainer: Stages Of Competence

Total Success have been running successful Train the Trainer courses since 1995. This one-day course is essential if you have just been promoted to a training or coaching role or you wish to refresh your training skills. It is full of practical tools and techniques that include:

This course will also benefit those who have become Training Managers and wish to know the fundamentals of developing organisational training programmes focusing on implementing training policy and improving staff competency levels.

Training the Trainer: Stages Of Competence

It is important for managers to realise that as we progress we must make the way ahead for our employees as meaningful as possible. Most managers have the belief that “to get a job done well, you have to do it yourself”, but this is a very short term view and we must always look to the long term.

A good indication as to whether you need to train your staff is the height and age of your in-tray contents. Are piles of work continually being brought home in the evenings and the weekends? Are you constantly putting out fires?

Have a close look at the following checklist and ask yourself if you suffer from any of the following:

  • You can’t take time off, even when you are really sick because there is no one around who can cover for you.
  • You are never able to take all of the holidays due to you.
  • You are unable to set aside at least 30 minutes of planning time at the end of each day.
  • You frequently have to help workers finish their tasks and projects.
  • Your subordinates lack any form of initiative. They feel they must ask permission for everything before making a move.
  • Getting information from team members is like pulling teeth.
  • If you left the company, they would have to recruit to replace you.
  • You’re always the last one to leave the office; yours is the only car left in the car park and you are praying that it still has its hubcaps.

If you ticked more than one of the above you may need to consider training and coaching as mechanisms towards greater productivity and reducing some of your stress levels.

Ice Breakers

Ice breakers are traditionally used at the start of a training session to get the audience talking, thinking, interacting (or sometimes to allow a nervous trainer time to calm down). Here are some examples of ice breakers. If you get really stuck, email the office and we’ll send you the answers.

Missed quotations

For the well read amongst you here are some quotations which have had their ends cut off. Fill in the blanks to complete these famous quotes.

“The secret of managing is to keep the five guys who hate you away from…………………………”
Casey Stengel

“All men stand in the gutter but some look up to the………………………….”
Oscar Wilde

“Good things come to those who wait , but only the things left by those who…………..”
Abraham Lincoln

Word puzzles

Nothing is as it seems in these word conundrums.  What is the connection between these three sentences?

Straw? No too stupid a fad. I put soot on warts.

A man, a plan, a canal – Panama!

No, it is open on one position

Creative Puzzles

These will test your creative abilities. What are the following numbers in these sequences (one point for each answer)

2 3 6 9 36 41 246 …

2 5 15 18 54 57 171 ….

Stages Of Competence

One of the pitfalls of training, especially one-to-one is understanding that not everyone learns at the same rate, therefore it is worth remembering that as we learn we go through several distinct phases until we become ‘experts’. We call these the stages of competence.

Stage One – Unconscious Incompetence – “We don’t know what we don’t know” (blissful ignorance)

Stage Two – Conscious Incompetence – “We now know what we don’t know” (frustration plus irritation)

Stage Three – Conscious Competence – “We know what we need to know” (determination and motivation)

Stage Four – Unconscious Competence – “We have forgotten how we know what we know” (blissful expertise)

Let’s look at each stage in more detail:

Stage One – Unconscious Incompetence

This is the stage at which we usually start. We are unconsciously incompetent, unaware of what it is we don’t know.

Stage Two – Conscious Incompetence

We start to learn at the level of Conscious Incompetence. We become suddenly aware for the first time of how poorly we do something and how much we have to learn. This can be a very frustrating period for people and some may quit if they are not really motivated to continue.

Stage Three – Conscious Competence

Having practised, we start to move up the staircase. With experimentation and practice we start to acquire the knowledge and skills. We know how to do it correctly, but we need to think hard to keep it going well. This stage involves small progressive steps during which our feeling of awkwardness give way to a sense of achievement as we become more skilled.

Stage Four – Unconscious Competence

At this stage a new sense has taken over – the kinaesthetic sense of unconscious movement or muscular effort. With frequent application we have arrived at a level of unconscious competence where the whole process seems natural and easy and doesn’t require so much concentration.

This model helps us to look at the various stages managers will need to go through if they want to become effective coaches.

  1. The first stage represents many managers who experience coaching for the first time. They are neither knowledgeable nor skilful; however their confidence exceeds their ability because they have very little idea of what’s involved.
  2. The next stage is marked by a drop in confidence as they gain more knowledge of what’s involved. They are trying to use the skills but are having difficulty in putting them into practice.
  3. Next comes “Conscious Competence”. At this stage they are now fully aware of what’s required and can demonstrate the ability to carry it out. They do, however, have to concentrate fully and check back to make sure they are progressing to plan.
  4. The final stage is reached when they coach both automatically and effectively without really thinking. Good coaching practice has become such an integral part of their management style that they do it well, without even thinking about it.

Planning a training session

Once the decision has been made for training, our objectives realised, the dates booked and the venue organised, we need to think about how to train. One of the areas of training that non-training professionals find difficult is the introduction. We have listed the essential elements of the INTRO below:

The Introduction

The main purpose of the introduction is to make the trainee ready to learn.

Put them at ease.

Steps to ensure this include

  • comfortable seating and lighting
  • creating a friendly atmosphere, smile, use their names
  • encourage the trainees to talk and ask questions
  • be enthusiastic

Put the session in context.

  • tell the trainees what the job/task is about
  • how this job/task fits into wider work of the organisation/section
  • how this session relates to the job and other training sessions

Find out what they know already

  • check the trainee’s current knowledge
  • identify any gaps in their knowledge
  • explore similar training or situations they’ve been in

Arouse their interest

  • explain why this skill/procedure is important
  • what they’ll gain from acquiring it
  • state your objective, give them something to aim at

Action Planning

Congratulations, you have completed the training and it’s gone very well. However, the real value of training and coaching is what happens after the session. Action plans are vital for the assimilation of skills learnt to be put into practice in the workplace. Below are some of the planning points that must be answered and followed through if the training is to have long lasting relevance.

Action planning checklist

  1. What am I going to do?
  2. Which of my priority needs am I going to develop?
  3. What steps am I going to take?
  4. What activities will help me meet my needs?
  5. How am I going to start?
  6. Work out a clear first step for each activity
  7. When am I going to start?
  8. Commit yourself to a specific, realistic start date
  9. How will I achieve it?
  10. What methods will I use, what resources will I need?
  11. Who else will be affected?
  12. Who do you need to support you, how and when will you approach them?
  13. What could prevent me?
  14. Who or what might put obstacles in your way? How will you overcome them?
  15. How will you know when I’ve succeeded?
  16. How and when will you monitor your success?