Trainer or Facilitator, these are two words that are often interchangeably used by a lot of professionals. Often learning professionals ask about the difference between the roles of a Trainer and a Facilitator? And if there is a difference, how to know which hat to don and when? To make things worse, trainers/facilitators are now finding situations even more confusing in the virtual learning environment. Trainer or Facilitator, these are two words that are often interchangeably used by a lot of professionals. Often learning professionals ask about the difference between the roles of a Trainer and a Facilitator? And if there is a difference, how to know which hat to don and when? To make things worse, trainers/facilitators are now finding situations even more confusing in the virtual learning environment.
Observing the success that some Trainers/Facilitators achieve, others become obsessed with the idea of becoming a rocking superstar who evokes ear-deafening applauses with 5-star feedback for every session. It is this thought or idea in their mind that deviates them from the primary focus that any individual in that role should have. They start focusing on what to do and when to do things that result in those adrenaline-rushing, dopamine-releasing moments.
In reality, the role of a Trainer/Facilitator is a lot different than just being the rocking superstar who gets to stand in front of an audience. A Trainer/Facilitator is the conduit between the participants and the subject matter. The role of a Trainer/Facilitator is to create a pathway to knowledge for the participants. This pathway should be such that it provides participants with continuous access to that knowledge.
"What trainers sometimes do not realize is that they are not responsible for participants' learning. Participants are responsible for their own learning. The trainer is a guide who is responsible for creating and maintaining an environment in which people are able to learn."
~ Janis Chan (2010) in Training Fundamentals: Pfeiffer Essential Guides for Training BasicsAdvertisement
As Janis Chan rightly mentions, a Trainer/Facilitator is not responsible for what the participants learn. How much a participant learns depends on various factors including, the learning capacity, the willingness to learn, the efforts put in by that participant. What a Trainer/Facilitator is responsible for is enabling an equal learning environment for all participants. This learning environment is not just limited to the classroom. It extends beyond the classroom to the areas where the participants implement their learnings. After all, there is no value in the learnings if the participants do not implement it.
The real value of learning lies in implementing it and the benefits derived from applying that learning. The Trainer/Facilitator needs to work with the participants to understand what enables them to implement the learnings better. This understanding will help them in creating an environment that is more conducive to their success. Such success, in turn, will be attributed to the learning program and the Trainer/Facilitator.
It is also equally important that the Trainer/Facilitator identifies all barriers that cause hindrances for participants to apply their learnings. A Trainer/Facilitator may have to work with other stakeholders involved in the process to help eliminate any of the identified barriers. Environments with minimum barriers to implementation of learnings foster higher success ratios to learning interventions. All this contributes to higher success for the Trainer/Facilitator.
With the change in the global business perspectives, organizations and stakeholders are expecting more from the Learning Teams. Gone are the days when the role a Trainer/Facilitator was limited to the classroom. The approach is now holistic, where success is attributed only to those individuals/teams that not just get participants to learn but also bring a positive impact on the business metrics through the implementation of those learnings.
To cater to these changing expectations, Trainers/Facilitators need to change how their perspective of measuring success. Trainers/Facilitators can no longer afford to show success with raving reviews and feedback on their learning delivery performance. Trainers/Facilitators need to showcase the impact delivered, and the value created as a result of the interventions delivered or designed by him/her/them. It is time for Learning Professionals to adapt and speak the language of business to attain the respect that they deserve.