You know selecting the right trainer is important, but how do you sort through the hype and get the best fit? Here’s 7 sure fire ways to pick a Great Trainer!

The training Market

While not all trainers are equal, the courses they teach pretty much are. All accredited courses are required to meet certain requirements and are anchored in the associated certification.

This is good news because you don’t have to concern yourself with the course content when selecting a trainer. But It also makes it very important to know what makes a great trainer.

What should you look for?

1. Real world experience

Key Question: Does the trainer have real world experience in the topic?

This is The Biggie – do they have real world experience, or do they just teach the material? There’s some truth to the saying “those who know do, and those who don’t know teach”. The number one thing you’re looking for is a trainer who knows. Look for a trainer who is currently doing or has done what they’re training.

Look for someone who’s worked in the industry, who’s actually helped an organization with a successful Service Management program. Be concerned if they didn’t spend too long working in the field, or moved from job to job too frequently.

Ask for a resume and references. Don’t be starstruck by impressive resumes or accomplishments. It’s not uncommon for trainers to have written related books and have an active online presence.

Call the references, see if they delivered on the training.

2. Experience in your environment

Key Question: Does the trainer play well in my environment?

Every organization is different, with it’s own unique personality, challenges, and culture. You’re looking for a trainer who will fit with that culture. That doesn’t mean they need to be a geophysicist with experience in the oil and gas exploration industry (if that’s your environment).

But you are looking for similarities.  Look for  company size and make up. Engineering company versus artistic, creative? Fortune 500 versus start-up? Government agency (Federal versus State or local?) Does the trainer have experience that people from my organization will respect and find relevant? Do they speak your (cultural) language, share your buzzwords and lingo?

3. Accreditation

Key Question: Does the trainer have the right accreditation for this training?

Most training courses are based on content owned and managed by an organization like Project Management Institute or CompTIA, for instance. In order to teach official courses for their content, they are required to be accredited.

Don’t get involved with fly-by-night trainers. Let the accreditation process vet out trainers you don’t want. Trainers without the proper accreditation cannot administer certification exams.

Even if you don’t intend to take the certification exam, do yourself a flavor; don’t go there.

4. Experience in other frameworks and disciplines

Key Question: Is this trainer a one trick pony?

Having a broad experience in other disciplines makes a great trainer. Be wary of trainers who only have experience in a single discipline (even if it’s the one your’e interested in). Being familiar with other disciplines  like SRE, DevOps, Customer Experience, Agile, Enterprise Architecture, Project Management, etc.  make for a well rounded instructor.

All of these disciplines are complimentary, and instructors versed in them are better able to help you understand the topic in the broader context. They also have a broader view of the industry and can be a wealth of knowledge. Great trainers are certified, accredited and give training in multiple topics.

5. Courseware

Key Question: Does the course materials make it easy to learn?

Like the courses themselves, all course materials have to cover the same material, so there’s very little that differentiates them. Even so, there’s good and bad courseware. Ask to see sample materials. Great trainers either have their own accredited courseware or partner with excellent providers.

Look for courseware that compliments the official publications, not regurgitates it. Be particular about the production quality. Spelling, grammar, punctuation. Look for materials that are colorful, easy to read, and professionally bound.

Including good case studies that facilitate discussion and explanation can be especially helpful with the right instructor.

6. Personal Recommendations

Key Question: Would students recommend this instructor?

It’s a social world, and training instructors are no exception. Ask people you know who they have used and if they’d recommend them. By the time a class is over, students have had the chance to get to know the instructor pretty well, and are an excellent way of getting the inside scoop.

Are they open and helpful in answering questions? Do they make themselves available on breaks, lunch and after hours while you’re studying? Were they interesting and easy to listen to for an extended time? Did they have good examples from their own experience? Were their stories relevant and helpful in understanding the topic?

Good instructors bring many ‘extras’ with them from their experience and background. Great trainers freely share links, documents, samples, templates and a wealth of resources they’ve gathered. This is a major bonus of selecting a great trainer!

Again, check references.

8. Interview training candidates

Key Question: Is the trainer capable of helping me and my team understand and apply the topic?

There’s no substitute for actually talking with a trainer before selecting them. Use this article and your own experience to get an idea if they are a good fit. Don’t be bashful about asking tough questions. Training isn’t cheap, and it’s important, so do your homework.

Be aware that trainers do a lot of networking and interviewing. Ask follow up questions to get them off script to find out what they’re really about. Ask them to explain a certain related concept. How they respond is a great way to sample their training style and approach.

Get Started!

Finding an excellent trainer is key for successful Service Management.  Select a great trainer using these tips and get started.