How To Be A Better Trainee

In my first training a few years ago, I felt the huge difference between being a trainer and a trainee. Later on, I knew, after delivering number of courses, that each trainee has his/her own perceptions, motivations, needs and expectations of the course subject and even the trainer delivering the course.

Usually attendees receive an invitation from HR department to attend a specific course with all related details such as venue, timing, and course duration. The list may extend to include, but not limited to, trainer’s bio and course learning outcomes.

One should admit that each trainee has his/her own agenda and objectives of being part of any course. Some trainees look for changing the daily work routine, others tend to go for any course, if possible, just to have fun and stay away from their job responsibilities whereas a reasonable number of trainees still have the passion to learn and enhance their knowledge. Nevertheless, a reasonable combination of all those purposes may formulate the optimum mix of the majority of trainees.

Prior to the trainees’ nomination, HR have to determine employees’ training needs. This process differs from organisation to another depending on the system adopted. Some organisations prepare a list of all trainings to be offered each year and then seek managers’ inputs in terms of their subordinates’ nominations. Other organisations may develop another process by initially seeking managers’ participation to list their people’s training needs. Best practice indicates the crucial contribution of each employee to specify learning needs according to skills and knowledge sought to be acquired.

Once a trainee is nominated for a course that matches his/her training plan, the likelihood of involvement level will definitely rise and subsequently the achievement of course objectives will increase. It is not only the trainer that plays an important role in delivering a successful training, but the trainees are inevitably much more accountable for the effectiveness of achieving the course learning outcomes as well.

To make sure that the learning process is meaningful, trainees should have some traits, pre-course preparations and above all, willingness to get the most out of the training sessions. In my humble opinion I may highlight some of the most important tips that would help trainees cope with training requirements and variables in three stages: pre-course, during the course and post-course preparations and actions.

  1. Pre-course preparations and actions:
    1. Trainees need to inform others about being away from their desk for a few days to firstly avoid distraction in course days and secondly avoid delaying transactions that could be referred to someone else instead of being kept on the desk till the trainees resume to work.
    2. Trainees need to change their office status to “away from the desk” or another similar status in addition to changing the email setting to an “out of office” auto reply.
    3. Trainees need to have a general idea of the course subject, headlines, important subtitles and any other information that could be play as eye-openers. Preparing a list of inquiries and questions will definitely maximize the benefits of the course.
  2. During the course actions:
    1. Complying with trainer’s ground rules in terms of do’s and don’ts
    2. Paying attention by being engaged in all discussions, activities and role-plays.
    3. Listening attentively not only to the trainer’s speech but to other trainees’ comments and questions as well.
    4. Support other trainees and get them on track whenever they deviate from the purpose of the session.
    5. Trainees must not have the fear of asking the trainer to repeat a complicated section or ask a question that supplements the topic under discussion.
    6. Attending phone calls is not completely prohibited but must be limited so it does not affect the course theme comprehension.
    7. Trainees are encouraged to take the initiative to summarize the contents by the end of the course to highlight the main points observed and others that need further explanation either through further communication or other future course.
    8. Trainer’s contacts need to be recorded for future inquiries.
    9. Studies have shown that generative techniques, like note-taking, can lead to a very high potential of knowledge acquired.
  3. Post-course actions:
    1. It is very advantageous to go through the course material in the same day, or at the maximum, the next day, to enhance and confirm knowledge gained where all information are still fresh and present in mind.
    2. When possible, speak to your colleagues about the course contents to demonstrate your understanding. The best way to ensure your comprehension level of any topic is to deliver it to others.
    3. It is also very important to reflect on one’s daily practices in the workplace and implement what has been learnt to incubate new actions and reactions.
    4. At regular intervals, trainees are advised to be exposed to other courses that could integrate or complement courses taken to complete the whole picture as possible.

Despite the significance of training courses and its impact on employees’ development, it’s theoretically considered the least factor out of main three factors that formulate one’s experience as follows: 70% from on-the-job experiences, 20% from people (mostly the boss) and finally 10% from courses and reading.

“What’s worse than training your workers and losing them? Not training them and keeping them.” Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker

Yasser Bahaa is the Head of Registration and Admission at Emirates College of Technology. He has a broad experience of over 16 years in banking, training, consultancy and organizational excellence. Yasser got his MBA from University of Bradford and is currently pursuing his PhD in Organizational Change and Change Management. He's a program leader at University of Bradford in Dubai coaching and mentoring MBA students and supporting them to run their studies smoothly through guidance and regular sessions. Recently he has been certified as the third Investors in People (IiP) Specialist Adviser in the Arab World.

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