How To Assess Yourself & Your Training Delivery Skills
President Of TrainSmart, Inc.
When we hold a Train-the-Trainer Workshop, participants have multiple opportunities to practice their training/facilitation skills in a variety of assignments. After each practice, the workshop participant is asked this very telling question, “How do you think you did?”
99 times out of 100, the participant will start their self-assessment with everything they could have done better. It is a rare occurrence when people start this type of self-assessment with everything they do well. What is interesting about this phenomenon is that according to scientists who study this self-assessment (yes, this is an area of study) Americans tend to inflate their worthwhile other cultures tend to underestimate their abilities.*
The phenomenon even has a name, ”Positive Illusions.” What the scientists say is that most people (in Western Culture) are more aware of their strengths and not very aware of their weaknesses.
For those of us who want to embark on a professional self-improvement plan, this means we can’t just rely on our own opinion of our ability if we really want to focus on areas that need improvement. Given what the research says about our tendency to inflate our assessment of our own abilities, conducting a self-assessment without external input may be an exercise in futility.
Here are three unconventional things you can do as part of your self-assessment.
1. Review past evaluations from participants and embrace negative feedback.
These are actual comments about a trainer who was a co-facilitator during a five-day course.
- “Strong Communicator, was able to keep us on task.”
- “Amazing understanding of how teaching is done!”
- “Very open to discussions was able to keep us to track.”
- “Highly interactive and encouraging nature helped to create an open and effective environment for learning.”
- “Her style can be off-putting.”
Do you treat the one negative comment as a one-off? In talking with many trainers over the years, the tendency is to dismiss the comment as someone who had a bug up their butt and silently says to themselves, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
What I have found is that strong trainers/facilitators take these less than stellar comments and try to unpack what really happened. Why? Because we know that there’s a good chance that if one person felt so strongly about it that they needed to share their observations on an evaluation that there is a good chance others were thinking it as well.
This is what one trainer did after a participant shared that she told too many stories on the third day of training.
I looked at day 3 content and it was about handling problems in the classroom. I realized I had a story for every situation. I changed the way I delivered content on that topic. Now, they perform a skit on how NOT to handle a classroom situation and then give the 3 steps on what they should do. It is so much fun. They really enjoy the section now. They then share examples of difficult things that happened to them and we all give suggestions on what they could do next time. It is my favorite part of the training now.
2. Create your own evaluation based on your understanding of your strengths and weaknesses
If it is appropriate after participants have completed the regular class evaluation, ask if they would be willing to participate in a second evaluation. Explain what you are doing and ask for their feedback. Use an online survey tool like SurveyMonkey, Formstack, or InstantSurvey to send them an electronic version of the evaluation.
Based on the responses, create an action plan for how you can implement and address areas where you are the weakest. Continue sending the survey until you are confident that you are making progress on the areas that you wanted to concentrate on.
3. Ask a colleague if you can shadow them
While shadowing professionals is typically something people who are just beginning their careers tend to do, it can be eye-opening to do it after you have several years’ experience. It’s a great way to add new techniques to your toolbox, to level-set your perception of your own ability and to learn from another pro. Over the years, I have never left a session where I co-facilitated or observe another facilitator that I didn’t adopt a new technique or approach.