Is Training The Trainer (TTT) a viable solution?

01 February 2013 Johan Greyling, Genasys Technologies

In today’s rushed world of wanting solutions implemented as quickly as possible and not having time available for additional (sometimes thought of as unnecessary) items such as training, one often starts to look for shortcuts, says Johan Greyling, Training Facilitator at Genasys Technologies.

One of these so-called shortcuts is known as "Training The Trainer”. It basically boils down to training one’s own complement of certain staff members to take over the role of training the rest of the staff. In theory this sounds great with promised cost and time savings. But what happens in reality?

A quick search on Google for the phrase, "Train The Trainer” returns more than 4.8 million results. If one starts digging into these results you quickly discover that the majority of these results deals with actually training a trainer and not training a skilled professional to be a makeshift trainer.

The training field can change fast. New methodologies, new discoveries about the way adults learn and changing expectations from trainees — and from your company.

Imagine the following

Let’s try and put this into perspective and imagine for a moment that you were the chief surgeon of a hospital. Would you consider training a person to be a surgeon and then let that person train others to be surgeons from scratch?

If you answered yes, I suppose the next question would be if you would let any of these newly trained "surgeons” do an open-heart bypass on you? Obviously, the correct way here would be to send these aspirant surgeons to med school and then placing them on an internship… So, why do this in your organisation?

Only the basics

In recent investigations it was found that system users who have not received official Genasys training only knew the very basics of the system. They could for instance capture or do basic endorsements to a policy, but did not know the first thing about how the system would handle renewals, or how to read the policy transaction screen. Even worse, they did not realise what the end-result of their actions on the system would be.

Further investigation revealed that although these people had internal training they were only trained on what the "trainer” thought they would require. In other cases they were merely shown by other staff members how the system works.

This methodology of training very quickly leads to the following:

1) Because staff members do not know how to perform certain functionalities in the system, they very quickly become despondent to the system. On many training occasions the participants would be very quick to mention that the system could not do certain functionalities, only to then be shown how to actually do it.

2) Staff members tend to pass along bad habits when showing the system to someone else. Before you know it, your database starts filling up with untrusted or garbage data.

3) Training staff become proficient in their own areas and then tend to train only in these areas leaving other areas as vague unknowns.

4) Internal trainers do not always have the time to sit down with other staff and train them properly. Remember, their core functionality is not training.

5) The internal and external helpdesks get flooded with user queries, which could easily have been resolved if the staff had proper training from the start.

Good training is essential

As can be seen from the above, proper training is not something you would want to neglect. There might be quick short term solutions, such as training up trainers, but in the long run it always comes back to bite you, and affects you negatively.

Proper system training is not a luxury, it is a necessity. It should always be dealt with pro-actively and in a manner which will benefit your organisation in the best possible way. When staff becomes negative towards your system, the first question should be whether the staff had the proper training in order to fully understand the system and raise an "educated” concern.


Training benefits the organisation’s current and new employees. It is part of effective supervision, since managers routinely face situations requiring training. And, the ability to ensure proper staff training makes a better manager.

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