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Why to turn Subject Matter Experts (SME) into Specialist Trainers

Subject Matter Experts (SME) play a critical role in various aspects of business and organizational activities, including product development, project management, training, and decision-making. There is no doubt that they can be good trainers. But it’s a wrong assumption that all SMEs can train well.

Just as every great athlete or performer can’t be a great coach; every SME can’t be a good trainer either. Knowing is not enough, being able to transfer the knowledge to enable others is vital, which only the trainers with specialized skills can do. Moreover, SMEs are often made to get into trainers’ shoes just by reading through Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) prepared for training and are hardly groomed to become skilled trainers.

I worked for many companies that used their SMEs as trainers instead of hiring outside trainers. Their leadership believed that SMEs could handle multiple responsibilities and also contribute to training, so there was no need to have trainers. This may sound exciting; however, it has its own repercussions.

Let me tell you what many SME turned trainers may not be able to do because they don’t have the right skills.

  1. Create content that aids optimum learning, as a result the companies have to outsource the content creation process.

  2. Evaluate trainings effectively and hence can’t improve training programs.

  3. Share constructive feedback which is crucial for learning.

  4. Control attrition.

If companies groom their SMEs well, they can become Specialist Trainers capable of doing all that’s mentioned above as well as devise training programs and strategies that can get phenomenal results, and much more. Here are some of the must have abilities or skills that can turn your SMEs into specialist trainers.

1. Leadership thinking: Trainers need to have a clear understanding of their organization's mission, goals, and objectives, and align their decisions and actions accordingly. Trainers who think as leaders can better understand business requirements, allowing them to create training programs and content that help businesses achieve their objectives.

2. Instructional System Design (ISD): Understanding ISD assists trainers in designing and developing effective training programs, streamlining the development process, identifying knowledge and skill gaps, improving learner engagement, and providing a framework for evaluation.

3. Content development skills: Content is a critical element of effective training. It provides the foundation for learning, supports learning objectives, engages learners, ensures consistency, facilitates retention and application of knowledge, and provides a basis for evaluation. By designing and delivering effective content, trainers can help learners acquire the required knowledge and skills and achieve the learning objectives.

4. Presentation techniques: Presentations are not just limited to PowerPoint slides. Knowing different presentation techniques like storytelling, using visual aids, demonstrations, interactive activities, simulations, gamification and much more helps in engaging the audience and makes a presentation clear, concise, and memorable.

5. Feedback techniques: Sharing constructive feedback in training can be a powerful tool for driving learning and growth. When feedback is delivered in a positive and supportive manner, it can help to identify areas for improvement, increase motivation, improve performance, encourage self-reflection, and build trust and rapport between trainers and learners. Feedback techniques not only aid learning but also help curb attrition.

6. Technical Skills: The days of all training taking place in a classroom are long gone. Technology has made training easier and more interesting, and its use in training has grown in recent years. Trainers must be skilled in the use of various training tools and platforms, as well as Learning Management Systems (LMS), to carry out online or blended learning programs.

7. Analytical Skills: Analytical skills are important in the context of training because trainers must be able to analyze the needs of their audience, evaluate the effectiveness of their training methods, and identify areas for improvement. A trainer, for example, may need to analyze their audience's learning styles and skill levels in order to determine the most effective teaching methods. They may also need to assess the effectiveness of their training program in order to determine whether it met its objectives. This necessitates the ability to analyze data, interpret results, and make informed decisions based on the available information.

8. Continuous Learning: Because the field of training and development is constantly evolving, it is critical for trainers to stay up to date with new techniques, technologies, and trends. For trainers who want to remain relevant, effective, and influential in their field, continuous learning is essential. Trainers can improve their own skills and knowledge, improve learner outcomes, and keep up with changing trends and technologies by committing to ongoing education and professional development.

Overall, SMEs can make effective trainers because they have deep knowledge and expertise in a specific area and can tailor their training to meet the specific needs of their audience. Their real-world experience, credibility, and passion for the subject matter can also help to create engaging and effective training experiences for learners. By tapping into their expertise and grooming them well, companies can improve the quality of their training programs and help learners achieve their full potential. Hence, it's vital to turn your Subject Matter Experts into specialist trainers.

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