Developing the developers – CPD for trainers

Developing the developers – CPD for trainers

Training our Trainers


Box quote..

If I don’t know I don’t know
                                     I think I know
If I don’t know I know
                              I think I don’t know

Laing R D (1970) KnotsHarmondsworth; Penguin (p.55)”


Roles of trainers

There are in effect two primary roles in learning and development – those that plan and manage and those that deliver training or facilitate learning. 

As a trainer, your primary role is to support the learning and development of others. Your initial training may have started as a three to five day “train the trainer” course, so what do you do now to develop yourself further, your CPD? If you only have the basics then I would recommend looking at one of the certificates in training from the CIPD, BILD, ITOL or other providers. These courses help to ensure that you have a firm foundation upon which to build. The average developer has completed over 100 days of self development in their career, so you can see a five day course is just the beginning.

Developing your knowledge

In the 1970s Tom Boydell noted that to identify training needs effectively we need to do so at three levels – Individual, team and organisation. We need to look at CPD for trainers in the same way. It is easy to say –“oh I don’t know much about xyz … I’m interested” and then go off and learn and develop. This is great for self development activity but CPD is as much about meeting the needs of our employing organisation, at least in terms of priority. We can use Boydells structure to plan our development and the context in which we will use the new knowledge and skills. The old adage “we don’t know what we don’t know” is as true for training as it is all fields, this article aims to highlight some of the up and coming areas to help

Individual needs

The world of training, learning and development is about people and how they change; therefore if we are to be consistently successful in this field it makes sense to develop our understanding of psychology. To look at learning theory beyond the basic models used on training courses, to look at the psychology of change.  We may want to have our delivery ability re-assessed, or develop improved training delivery skills.

Team needs

If you are a member of a team of trainers, talk with them and identify areas of weakness and who should develop which specialisations. The team needs are specific to each team and cannot be highlighted effectively in an article like this.

Organisational needs

Each organisation has its own unique culture needs and structures; our development activity needs to take these into account. The organisation has a need for us to perform and to provide individuals with the necessary skills quickly and effectively. The organisation may well require that we change our delivery methods from classroom to one to one, or perhaps to undertake more consultancy work. These needs will have a significant impact on our development plans.

To  help meet these organisational needs we may well look towards developing skills such as accelerated learning, one-to-one coaching skills, organisational development diagnostic skills, development of E-learning or M-learning content etc.

We don’t know what we don’t know

To start to focus us on our needs for the immediate and medium term and to start to identify some of the topics that may be of value to us; let’s explore the needs as identified in the Develop the Developer survey – – This comprehensive survey review of the development needs of trainers, by trainers. The ‘top ten’ personal development needs identified by those participating were: :

1.       Interpersonal skills

2.       Understanding the psychology of learning

3.       Facilitation skills

4.       Evaluation

5.       Group delivery skills

6.       Training and development methods

7.       Coaching skills

8.       Consulting skills

9.       Business knowledge

10.   Training needs analysis


In contrast the responders identified the following ‘top ten’ as key skills needed by the trainer/ developer population as a whole:


  1. Coaching skills – as a range of styles not just one methodology
  2. Consulting skills – internal and external
  3. Evaluation skills
  4. Diagnostic techniques – holistic and organisational as well at an individual level
  5. Interpersonal & personal skills – personal skills
  6. Organisational development
  7. Facilitation skills
  8. Training needs analysis
  9. Business knowledge
  10. Training and development methods – delivery methods



In the past, professionals have looked towards their professional bodies to support their CPD. But in the world of people development 19% of us do not belong to any professional body. Here’s a breakdown of membership:


·         CIPD (28%)

·         No Professional Membership (19%)

·         ILM (8%)

·         ITOL (5%)

·         Teaching Professional (4%)

·         CMI (3%)

·         IBC (3%)

·         Health care Professional (3%)

·         CIM (2%)

·         AMED (2%)

·         Engineering/ IT Institute (2%)

·         Finance Professional (2%)

·         ICPD (1%)

·         ASTD (1%)


There has been a steady decline in professionals meeting and using professional bodies over the past few years so perhaps this is not surprising. The good news for sites like TrainingZone is that some 73% use the web and forums for learning and development.


The following were identified as areas of growth in the world of learning and development by those who responded to the Develop the Developers survey. We have identified the top two growth areas in each area, so use this as a reference for inspiration:


  • Activity based approaches – total wellbeing and mind gym
  • Career planning – career workshops and Succession planning
  • Creativity – risk taking within organisations and Linking individuals and organisational creativity
  • Diagnostics – holistic and diagnostic reviews and 360 organisational reviews (business Improvement reviews)
  • Equal opportunities – ageism awareness and men’s development
  • Ethical development – SQ (spiritual quotient) and environmental responsibility 
  • Evaluation – Kirkpatrick’s levels three and four  and ROI (Return on Investment)
  • Group based training – external networking and External partnering 
  • Leadership techniques – risk taking and developing a strategic view
  • Organisational development – innovation (behavioural) and Investors in people additional modules
  • Performance management – Integrated performance management systems and 360 performance management
  • Retention – talent management and working from home
  • Text delivery solutions – podcasts and m-learning
  • Therapy techniques – hypnosis and time line

Interestingly, nowhere in the results of the survey did it highlight the need for development of our delivery skills – this could have been because the average responder had already undertaken more than 100 days CPD in their career as a trainer.


For those of us with less I would urge you to look at providers which can provide a peer review of your delivery ability. In fact I would recommend that all trainers delivering content have a regular ‘trainers MOT’.


Organisations like TrainerBase and the The Training Foundation already provide this – TrainerBase through their Certified Learning Practitioner (CLP) programme and The Training Foundation through the TAP programme.


If you are not a member of a professional body then regional groups from TrainerBase and others make great learning and networking opportunities, as do online groups like the Lone Trainer Networkon LinkedIn. Networking is particularly important for us as the majority of us work on our own and have few colleagues to ‘bounce’ ideas off. The Develop the Developer research identified that the number of people employed in an organisation primarily in a training or coaching role as:


Number of trainers per organisation (% of responders)

1 (27%)


2-5 (27%)


6-10 (14%)


11-20 (10%)


21-50 (12%)



Times have and are changing

Had this article been run 10 years ago, the focus would have been listing and identifying providers that could offer the above. However, times have moved on, and as we can see, self development is as much on the agenda for trainers as the people we work with. Certainly courses have their place, but so does the web and all it has to offer. We know from recent training publications and training related articles that there are many myths perpetuated within the world of learning and development and we as professionals need to understand what these are and do our utmost not to perpetuate them. This means research… not just taking something at face value and presenting it as fact.


What and how are you planning to develop yourself in the coming months?

** CPD Continuing Professional Development

Mike Morrison is director of RapidBI Ltd, a consulting and training company specialising in organisational development and the development of high performing teams and individuals.


Management and Leadership development are importent to you and of course to the team here at RapidBI. We hope you find this information valuable, if you do please tweet or facebook like this page. Thanks

Check Out Mike Morrison's Book on Organizational Development - Theory and Practice, for tools and tips on developing organizations, managers and leaders on Amazon and Kindle

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About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.


  1. Kristine Vlahos says:

    ~ Train the Trainer.

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