Who Are the Best Trainers?

Nov. 1, 2018
Great trainers are a critical component of successful employee training. Consider these factors to find the right person or people to take on the role.

I know what you are thinking. Is this guy ever going to get to the part about actually writing out the training program? For the past two months, I have been teasing you with the idea that you would have your training plan written and you would be on your way to error-free work days while watching your profits fill your wallet. You may have felt compelled to contact me to get more information at (entering in shameless plug here — [email protected]). While it may seem like a well thought out plan to keep you looking for my articles, it’s important to realize that a training program is nothing without the proper culture. If you are not committed to having a great team that can do anything, then there is no reason to seek out a good training plan. All you will have is a written plan that no one follows.

Selecting the Personality Type

Just as important as having a great training program and a great culture is having a great trainer, or trainers, depending on the workload. Most of you had that one teacher in school who you listened to, not because he/she was teaching important material, but because he/she seemed to be uniquely interested in you succeeding. Once you establish a unique interest in their growth, your team’s potential is unlimited.

Jose Hernandez was hired early on when I was just a manager. Eventually after coaching him through new hire, Hurricane Katrina and moving up through other managers, I brought him on my team. He was my second trainer on the team and one of the most valuable leaders I have ever had the honor of serving. After 10 years or so of working with him through countless trials and celebrating him on his abundance of successes, he stumbles up to me at a “social event” in Charlotte. I’d say he was about eight drinks past his feeling-good stage. But he looked at me with wet eyes and asked with a slur, “How come we (the team) will do just about anything for you?” The answer is simple, I was there to serve and grow him, and them, into whatever they could be.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have had the teacher who just ran through the motions. This teacher would pull out the book, go over the material required and give you a test at the end. It was your responsibility to learn the material, and if you failed, it was because of you. He had no interest in your development; he was only there to complete a task that was assigned to him. I assume, like me, you didn’t excel in that class. You passed. But it was just a mark on the belt, and you moved on quickly.

One of the biggest features has been mentioned several times over the past two months. I have quietly implanted the word “served” into all my accounts of mentioning leaders. Your trainer is not there to excel; your trainer is there to excel others. Your trainer must be in the mindset of putting aside his “high ticket” or “commissions” to allow others to learn and prosper.

The other feature that has been mentioned is having a teacher mentality. There are plenty of fantastic people out there who do procedures perfectly and excel in their job. This does not make them a trainer. This just makes them very good at their job. Assuming a good technician with a high-ticket potential makes a good trainer will create an epic setback to your growth culture.

The Interview

There is only one mandatory question asked during the interview. This question should be asked first, and then you can base your conversation off the answer. “Why do you want to be a trainer?” Most of the time (and I hope this is true), you are not hiring a trainer from the outside, so job history and ice breakers are not important.

All the wrong answers can come out. These answers should be jotted down and saved for a rainy day when you need a laugh. My favorites are:

  1. That just looks a lot easier than what I am doing.
  2. I don’t really like working with the customer.
  3. I’m getting too old to work on cars.
The answer you should be looking for goes something like this: “I find that I get more joy out of my job when I teach something to someone, and it helps them out,” or “I like to teach, and I am usually the one they go to for an answer.” On that last note, make sure they are teaching the right thing. Bad employees love to show how things can be easier if you do it their way. The rest of the interview can be used to test their knowledge or give them examples of situations, and ask how they would handle it. The most important part is that you have someone who can execute procedure and policy right and loves to spread the right knowledge.

Trainers Train

Imagine you’re at a restaurant, your waiter walks up to you with another person in tow. “Good evening, I will be your waiter tonight; also, I have John joining us tonight. He has just started, and he is going to learn how to give exceptional service.” You probably have been in a situation like this and typically have had a positive experience. The trainer is working with John, and nothing but excellent service is delivered. Now imagine if the restaurant became very busy, and the trainer left John to attend to other tables. How do you think John will do at your table? How do you feel about your favorite eatery now? How does John now feel about his new job?

One of the worst things for customers or a new hire is to allow them to underperform because you are “busy.” Therefore, trainers should train and not fall into their technician mode. This can be challenging to the trainer, as she is used to rolling up her sleeves and getting dirty. But her job, if done correctly, is to ensure that John can handle the rush, not today, but for his career with you. I have walked into many situations where a trainer was elbow-deep in a leak check and the new tech was checking the oil dipstick for transmission fluid. This is not the new technician’s fault. The failure lies directly on the trainer, which I am most assured to bring up in feedback.

The trainee, trainer, crew and manager all need to understand that this setback is minor, and it will get better. This culture will be challenged by those who mockingly say, “She doesn’t work on cars.” There is one exception to the rule — if the trainee is on break, the trainer can be a technician.

If the trainer is in “supervisory mode” or “just go out there and work with the crew and fix things” (what a plan…), the trainer should still not commit to a position but bounce around to different areas evaluating the crew and adjusting as needed. While he or she is a little more tech mode, a trainer would need to ensure they are in a good state of situational awareness and react accordingly.


Now that we have established your culture and who your trainer should be (or how they should be), we can start putting on paper what is going to be learned. It’s finally here — writing the plan. Your homework should be to look at each position that needs to be trained. Break down each area. Keep in mind safety issues and, most importantly, what does success look like?

Decide that you can really make a difference in your team, and then read my next few articles. Or, think your people skills are top notch, and watch your people go to the competitors and succeed. It’s your wallet after all. Until then, be great!