Top Qualities and Skills of a Corporate Trainer

What are the top qualities and skills of a corporate trainer?

Becoming an inspiring and influential corporate trainer takes a long time and a lot of effort. Still, an excellent training professional can be all that’s needed to roll out a truly successful training program and revolutionize business learning.

Some of the best attributes of corporate trainers include strong communication skills, being a good project manager, and possessing strategic thinking.

You may already be a corporate trainer in the learning & development field, an eLearning developer creating online learning, you might be thinking of starting a corporate training career, or even making the transition from education / higher ed to the corporate world, but is it as simple as people seem to think, or is there more to it?

A corporate trainer is a professional instructor who assesses, designs, develops, and evaluates learning within a corporate/business setting. They can work alone or as part of a team. Their core responsibility is to work with leadership teams, executives, and staff to understand where needs exist and assess if training should be the solution. If so, they can design, develop, and rollout learning solutions to meet the organization’s needs.

qualities and skills of a corporate trainer
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Corporate trainers can work under numerous titles, including but not limited to L&D Specialists, eLearning Designers, Trainers, Training and Development Professionals, and many more. The role name is usually based on the type of organization they work in, e.g., Not-for-profit, public sector, or private sector businesses.

Some of a corporate trainer’s responsibilities include: instructional design, needs analysis writing, understanding business strategy, project management ability, monitor levels of engagement and ongoing performance of staff pre and post-training, collaborate with subject matter experts (SME’s) and stakeholders, administrate the company LMS, develop blended learning amongst many more.

What makes a good training professional?

Almost no one dreams of becoming a corporate trainer. It usually is something you fall into (this was my journey), or you find your passion late in life. Irrespective, corporate training may fit the bill to allow you to live your passion.

Related: Corporate Trainer (All You Need To Know About It Before Taking It As A Career)

All the skills you need to be a corporate trainer can be learned over time, and even better, you can learn and develop them as you work in your new career.

Let’s check out the top qualities and skills of a Corporate Trainer.

This will be in no particular order.

A Love of Learning

Loving the learning process should be the first quality that any corporate trainer should possess, as, without this, it probably is not the right career choice.

2 men learning together on a laptop
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Learning is something that we all do, from K-12 to retirement. In our core working years, it is paramount that we continue our learning journey to keep developing and staying ahead of constant change in our organization.

One of the primo qualities and skills of a corporate trainer should be an unrelenting willingness to learn new things, whether new or existing technology, mandatory training topics, learning and development trends, and best practices. As well as reading industry literature to continually evolve your methods and techniques to serve your learners better. This passion will come out as engaging and exciting sessions and content for the learner.

Below I have added some of my favorite books that any corporate training professional should read as standard practice. These books are total game-changers and will enable you to learn, over time, the most needed qualities and skills of a corporate trainer.

Cathy Moore's Best Selling Book On Strategic Training Design - Map It

This book was made famous by one of the leading performance consultants in the world, Cathy Moore. Map It gives you tips and tricks to create a needs assessment to understand if training is required or if the need is more cultural, specifically from the perspective of the corporate world. 

Julie Dirksen's Book - Design For How People Learn

This is a great book to read, as the author, Julie Dirksen, goes super in-depth into how people learn at a cognitive level, which can assist you in developing learning content aimed at learners, for learners.

When it comes to the best qualities and skills of a corporate trainer, making content that is geared towards what learners need, should be at the very top of your list.  

Be a master training evaluator with - Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Training Evaluation

Designing exciting learning content is a great thing, but what about understanding how well that learning is applied in the workplace

That is where The Kirkpatrick 4 levels of evaluation model can come into play for you to evaluate how well your learning program has added real-world change.

Excellent Communication Skills

Possessing strong communication skills is a must for any corporate training professional. Communication skills can mean many things, though, from being able to speak a language proficiently. Also, it can mean confidence in front of a large group, communicating complex eLearning content to a diverse audience, or even providing clear instructions on a training video. Also, tailoring your communication style to the specific audience will help with learner comprehension. All of these aspects factor into being a good communicator as a corporate trainer.

As well as conveying instructional information to people, being able to engage and interact with your learners is equally as important, as that is what will make your participants want to learn with you as the facilitator. If your work is more eLearning focused, then your content’s visual and written style is what will engage, rather than your facilitation style.

Girl podcasting with microphone and laptop on the couch
Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

Remember, the overall aim of a corporate trainer is to share information and engage with learners, to teach them something that you know, that they want to know. If you can do that well, make them feel like they are the center of your content, and you check your ego at the door, you are assured of a positive learning outcome.

Your job as a corporate trainer is to empower your learners to, over time, become experts on the topic, and that may mean you need to “check yourself” and take a step back. Still, you know what, that’s fine, as long as people are learning the subject being trained, and are confident, that should lead to the best overall result.

A Sense of Humor

I initially thought this sounded a little odd to include in this post, but as I pondered about it more, I felt vindicated, and so here we are.

Another of the best qualities and skills of a corporate trainer is using humor to engage your learners. 

I should preface this point by saying you should be careful with humor. No dodgy-sounding jokes that can go immediately south, nothing about race, religion, looks, or anything about people personally, keep it light and breezy, and most importantly, keep your stories relevant.

In my 7+ years of experience within the learning & development world, I’ve learned that you can change how your facilitated presentations are received by injecting little bits of humor into your work to lighten the mood.

Humor can immediately change the vibe of a room, irrespective of how dry or exciting the content being delivered is; even simple laughter can transform a learner’s persona, which could level up participant engagement.

This may be within a presentation or graphically within an online course; humor can make people feel more at ease, especially if they are initially nervous or frustrated.

Related: LinkedIn Learning Review 2020: Is it worth your time

This can provide a more welcoming approach when presenting, make learners more inclined to interact with the facilitator, and help engage them to learn more effectively.

Being A Strategic Thinker

Girl deep thinking

One of the top qualities and skills of a corporate trainer is thinking about things strategically and keeping organizational goals in mind.

As a corporate trainer, you need to liaise with numerous business areas, from potential learners to HR, the leadership team, and many other vital staff members.

Corporate trainers are best served by having strong business acumen skills to diagnose issues within the organization and be able to help and advise when it comes to decisions around learning and development.

Being a “partner” with other teams and working collaboratively is crucial to building relationships with key stakeholders and understanding the bigger picture so you can develop the most relevant learning programs.

Instructional Design (ID) Abilities

One of the top qualities and skills of a corporate trainer is to have strong instructional design skills. Training managers will have this on their list of requirements for any (ID) role, and displaying this will be necessary at the interview stage.

So what skills are needed within Instructional Design then?

Here are our top 3.

Understanding learning models or theories:

Learning models have been around for a long time, but understanding from IDs is not always as strong as it needs to be. These include ADDIE, SAM, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels of evaluation.

Related: A Quick Guide to Four Instructional Design Models

Each of these models has its place in the instructional design process, from needs assessment, design, and evaluative methodologies. A good understanding of each will assist you in your day-to-day content development.

Job ads for ID roles can be very vague at the best of times. As an example, the classic line in almost all ads is “knowledge of adult learning principles,” as an example.

Delve into the books and learn as much as you can.

I did a quick search on Indeed and came up with this advert which demonstrates this well.

Indeed ID Job

Experience in Learning Technology

Do you have experience with eLearning authoring tools, Learning Record Stores (LRS)? Also, do you have experience in creating, designing, developing, and evaluating different content types?

Related: 10 Things Modern L&D Professionals Should Be Doing

Even experience in widely used file storage and sharing platforms such as SharePoint will help an organization, so having that in your back pocket will be very advantageous.

Lastly, understanding the difference between cloud vs. on-prem solutions, mobile vs. microlearning are all aspects of the technological world and will wow training managers.

Visual Design Skills

This is sometimes hugely overlooked but honestly, visual design is one of the most critical qualities and skills of a corporate trainer. How to know what elements look good on screen and work seamlessly with other elements you have already used to engage your learners effectively.

Understanding basic composition, storyboarding, whiteboarding, brainstorming, what looks good on a page, color theory, or when to use interactions over something more advanced like a branching scenario is critical to know in this day and age for L&D departments

Artist supply color illustration. Visual arts doodles. Painting and drawing art background.

Also, one thing that’s important to point out, which sometimes is not always considered, is skills on design platforms like, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Canva to create varied graphic content. The ability to create blog and website design content will set you apart from the competition and allow you to create a wide variety of learning content for your organization(s).

These types of skills can be learned from a multitude of online learning platforms, like Udemy or a more generic vendor like LinkedIn Learning.

Also, video production skills are highly sought after in this day and age, as more and more companies are moving to video-based content, and having people comfortable in scripting, filming, and editing will hugely benefit organizations in 2021 and beyond.

Organization Skills

First up, a declaration from me, this is my weakest skill, any form of organization and admin I am not great at, but I admit it and own it, and try to develop my skills in these areas.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!” I cannot tell you how often these words have been said to me, but they are true. When it comes to developing learning content, good preparation is crucial to success, or at least put you in the driver’s seat.

Related: 7 Skills Your Instructors and Trainers Must Have

If it’s a video you are creating, script it, understand what camera angles you are using, frame rates, etc. If it is an online course, make sure to storyboard your course first, prototype it and save all your images and multimedia.

Also, if you need assistance from someone at work, ask. Usually, people are happy to assist you, don’t try and do everything in isolation, it rarely works out. 

Being a Strong Project Manager

As corporate trainers, we can all agree that it isn’t just developing content we need to do; it’s project management, making sure content is organized, communicated, and sent to participants. Also, liaising with stakeholders and be responsible for evaluating the success rate of the training itself.

Overall, this is a lot of work and has many moving parts, so having project management experience with keen attention to detail is something that hiring managers are looking for more and more and is becoming expected as the years go by.

Have Compassion

Corporate trainers have an immensely important job, but as L&D professionals, we must be aware that employees do not always attend or work through our content in the best frame of mind.

Related: How a Compassion Mindset Can Enhance Learning Outcomes

Most businesses go through times of change, and change breeds fear, especially when communication is poor within an organization. We must be considerate and compassionate to people’s concerns; a good trainer understands this.

We must make sure we offer support when needed and highlight who is struggling and empower them to succeed.

Have an Entertaining Style

When in a more traditional facilitation role, it is key to know that you shouldn’t be seen as just “The Entertainer.” L&D is way more in-depth than that, and is a bit insulting, to be honest.

When facilitating though, being a subject matter expert, confident, engaging, and entertaining with it, is more like it.

When we say entertaining, we mean keeping people engaged, keeping people alert, and keeping your learners’ attention while keeping your training true to the plan and relevant.

Don’t ever allow yourself to be “just a facilitator” or “just an entertainer,” you are worth more than that, and it undersells you, but make sure to make your training engaging, as that is what will keep people with you.

Creativity

Creative Painting
Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

One of the most under-sold top qualities and skills of a corporate trainer is creativity. Being creative in the design and development of your learning content and being creative in your presentation style.

Corporate trainers keep learners engaged by being varied and as creative as possible. Their training can include content types such as images, videos, handouts, humor-filled anecdotes, GIFS, stories, activities, and scenarios.

Related: 4 Creative Instructional Design Strategies for Effective Online Courses

The great thing about being a corporate trainer is that, although there are general guidelines for learning best practices, on the whole, you are free to develop what you want how you want, carte blanche.

Feel empowered to experiment, and don’t discount wacky ideas; try them out and see the reaction. Take a trusted group of people and test content out, how does it land, and is it worth keeping in for the main training project rollout.

Make It About the Learner

Learning content should be learner-focused, are there other considerations to make, of course, but always consider what the learner needs as a first point, rather than blin develop what you are being told to do by management.

How many times have we heard, “Hi, I need you to make this course,” and we have a different opinion on the best way forward, well that is why we do a needs assessment, so the needs and requirements come from the horse’s mouth.

All content, from text to interactions to multimedia, should all be aimed at helping the learner understand the concept in question and making it tough enough to test learner’s knowledge to assist them in retaining the knowledge they have learned.

Just remember, learner-focused design, if you always remember this statement, your learning design will be more likely to succeed.

Final Thoughts

Being a corporate trainer is, in my opinion, one of the most incredible careers to be a part of and is growing at a rate of knots. When looking at the US department of labor statistics, between 2019-2029, the field is expected to grow by 9%. Much, much faster than the career average, so lots of opportunities ahead.

The top qualities and skills of a corporate trainer listed above are based on my personal experience, having attended numerous interviews in various industries across multiple countries, and in-depth research into what companies are looking for when hiring corporate trainers.

Managers hiring corporate trainers are looking for self-starters; they want people to be equipped with traditional concepts and be able and willing to adapt to the technological world to make learning more engaging, more efficient, and cost-effective.

Always be willing to take on new challenges, push back when you feel it’s necessary, and remember to take things step-by-step, and you will be fine.

A corporate trainer’s top qualities and skills are a guiding document for you to remember when day-to-day work life gets in the way. Feel free to refer back when needed.

Let us know how you get on and if these qualities and skills help you as a corporate trainer.

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