I am going to challenge you to make the time to reflect on the following three questions and write out your answers to each one. Please answer them honestly.
- Why are you a trainer?
- Why do you teach or train the way you do?
- How do you judge success as a trainer?
Did you actually do it? Did you answer the questions or just jump ahead? If you jumped ahead please go back and at least answer the first question.
Once you answer the questions go back and review what you wrote for #1 Why are you a trainer? If your answer is, “Because it works best with my lifestyle.”, “I was tired of shifts and needed a break.”, “I needed a break from the street.” or something similar, there is potentially a huge problem. Fitting your lifestyle and getting a day shift gig are potential side benefits of a full time training position. They are not legitimate reasons to get into a training position.
If your main reason was to enhance your resume or CV to help you get promoted, get into another specialty unit (I consider Training to be a specialty unit) or any other reason that is about you, there is potentially a problem.
One of the three Guiding Principles of the Excellence in Training program is “It Is Not About You”. In order to provide great training it can never be about you. It has to be about the men and women you have the privilege and honour to train. It has to be about serving them, serving the agency and serving the community by providing the best trining possible. That takes a lot of work. It requires that you spend hours studying, reading, learning, assessing, and asking questions so you can be as prepared as possible to deliver high quality training. It means there are times you have to make personal sacrifices in order to serve those you have the privilege to train.
Why did I say it is potentially a huge problem? Unfortunately, I have seen trainers who go into those positions for self serving reasons and then go through the motions as a trainer. I have also seen a few people who went into training positions for personal reasons and realized they needed to make a switch in their view of What’s Important Now. As a result they made a commitment to serve and be the best possible trainer they could be. They put in volumes of hard work and developed into very good trainers.
Your answer to question #3 How do you judge success as a trainer? is also important to pay attention to. Do you judge success based on how many accolades or great reviews you get, or do you judge success based on the growth and development of the participants in your training? Do you judge success on how many of your students pass the test or do you judge success based on actual learning and retention of the material and their ability to actually use or apply that learning in real world environments after the training is over?
I was at a training session recently where a group of trainers from one agency attended. The two new trainers to the unit showed up early, took notes throughout the sessions, were interested and engaged. The entire group however, including the two new ones, sat together at the back of the room (the new ones had to move back to sit with the others). The senior trainers in the group sat there throughout the training session with their arms crossed, a look of disinterest on their faces and did not participate in any of the group discussions. I know all of them. They were good cops. They were senior members of their agency (at least a couple were eligible to retire). They had a lot of experience. For a number of reasons however, I have to question their Why. Were they in those positions for the right reasons? Were they there for the men and women they serve or because those positions best served them.
If you spent the time to answer the three questions in detail and honestly they will reveal whether you are on the right path as a trainer or whether you need to either change your attitude or step up and do the right thing and get out of that training role. Training is too important, too many people rely on you, you are too influential to be in that role without the right Why.
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