If you were given a tool which helps you navigate through your professional development as trainer, what would you do with it?
When I started my path as trainer, we were given what can be considered a map. It was composed with a timeline with the starting point being the end of my train-the-trainer event, no end point, which is cool, and several milestones presented as events a trainer can attend to develop knowledge and/or skills with no particular structure.
Then, many years later, Mirna Šmidt and Goran Kelečić developed a self-assessment tool for Youth Trainers Academy with the aim to support professional growth using regular self-assessment structured in a way that encourage exploration: the Trainer’s Compass.
The Trainer’s Compass has been created to provide structured self-reflection, to help facilitate the understanding of trainer’s attributes, and provide insight on trainers’ development.
The Compass is composed of 4 main areas guided by 4 main questions: Who am I? What do I know? What can I achieve? and What do I do?
Trainer’s attitude represents the foundations of a trainer’s practice. It holds the structure for knowledge, skill, and behaviour. It is the core of the trainer, the first and most important thing the trainees will see, feel, connect to, and what people will remember.
The knowledge a trainer needs can be divided into knowledge regarding how people work and learn, the knowledge essentially needed to facilitate the learning process, and knowledge related to the content of the training being delivered.
Next to knowledge, trainers also need some well-developed transferring skills – group of skills that can be roughly put under two umbrellas of communication skills, as main tool for knowledge exchange, and delivering skills, making it accessible for the audience to master the skills related to the content.
No matter who one IS and all the things that one KNOWS and CAN, it is not worth much if one doesn’t DO something with those experiences, skills and knowledge. The impact of a trainer is only as far reaching as the actions and behaviour that s/he exhibit. Walking the talk and demonstrating what (s)he is teaching in her/his own behaviour, both in training and everyday life, is absolutely essential for a great trainer.
Using Trainers Compass
Trainer’s Compass was developed for TTT (Train the trainer) and that context still remains one of the most applicable places to use it – in presenting trainers’ competences to new trainers, but also in facilitating their self-reflection and planning of their own development path.
Another great place to use Trainer’s Compass is in any sort of event that aims at developing trainers’ skills – such as Train Old Trainer, Trainers’ Meeting, Train Advance Trainer and similar events. In these contexts, the Compass will likely be used as a framework for self-questioning and to explore own strong and weak sides as a trainer, as well as to find focus on what would be the most impactful next area to focus on in own self-development as a trainer. It could also be used as a structure for receiving feedback from trainer colleagues.
The way I personally use the tool, is that few times a year, I pick one or two slices and dedicate time to develop the related aspect of my compass. Like the time when I started a quest to develop my understanding of Neuro-Linguistic Programming basics, more the advanced communication aspect. I discovered the topic through fellow trainers and some parts of it seemed to respond to attitude elements I was receiving feedback on and wanted to improve (attitude related).
Some months later, I got my hand on a cool introductory book which had quite many activities related to the topic. After reading the book and discussing with my trainers’ colleagues to develop my understanding of the topic (knowledge acquisition). I chose some exercises and decided to spend 2 weeks developing the skills related to each of them (behaviour). About 2 months later, I delivered a session to which I included some parts from the topic for the first time (skills).
Building your own Compass
As one can see, all the mentioned elements are part of a life-long process, to be achieved through a lot of personal work and numerous training hours. The tool is not fixed. Some elements might be added or changed in each quadrant though what is important is the reflection associated with it. Adapting it to the context, situation, audience and goals of the activity is absolutely recommended and encouraged. What is important is that every trainer should develop a vision of his/her future trainer self, and invest energy in change to develop individual skills for personal and/or professional use.
Similar approach with Compass can also be developed for leaders, coaches, or any other role that would benefit of clear framework of competencies as a guidance for reflection and planned self-development.
About author of the article
Herve Tunga is an IT Development Engineer, Life Coach and Freelance Trainer with broad experience in managing IT technical projects, strategic development and organisational transformation initiatives in international environment.
Mirna , initiator of Trainers Toolbox, is a trainer in love with training tools and innovative games, positive psychology, NLP, and everything that makes learning more impactful and engaging.