Training Your Trainer

April 9, 2021

Why this must be done!

Every company that I work with or talk to about their business seeks to be the best that they can be doing the most with the least!  This means training and leading your employees to “Do it Right, The First Time, Every Time”, in everything they do. And in this situation, it is important that you have the right person that is doing the training.

How do we improve our driver’s behavior and increase their job knowledge? 

The answer to this question starts with these questions:

  1. Do you have a quality training program?
  2. Is the training program comprehensive?
  3. Is the training program systematic?
  4. Is the training engaging?
  5. Does your training address with the drivers What’s in It for Me?
  6. Does your training change behaviors?

You might be able to say that you have answered yes to all of these questions and your program has trainers that can teach these topics.  But one of the main problems that occurs when you do not have a qualified, trained, and experienced instructor, then the answers to these training questions cannot be complete. Trainers must be able to teach these programs and bridge the gap between teaching and having the employees learn.  

How do new drivers and employees cross the bridge between teaching and learning?

It all starts with the trainer. The trainers are responsible for supporting the learning experience. Trainers need to create a learning environment, where the adult learner can succeed. Trainers need to relieve the stress of new employee learning by communicating exactly what, when, and why they are learning something new. We have to take the time to train our trainers to facilitate the learning experience and bridge the gap between teaching and learning.

Instructor Training / Understanding Learning Domains

To help trainers do a better job of crossing the bridge between teaching and learning, trainers will need to master two different types of learning: Knowledge & Skills

Trainers will need to know the difference between the two because they are learned in different ways.


Simply stated, knowledge is “about things”.  Knowledge is the collection of principles and concepts we learn and store in our memory for later recall.  Examples of these subjects can be Laws, Rules, Policies and Procedures, Safety Principals, etc. These subjects are presented typically in the classroom. Key parts of the programs can be delivered by DVD, Discussions, Quizzes, and other printed materials. A quality training program that is comprehensive, systematic, and engaging will facilitate learning about the job.

It is important that the trainer keeps the employee involved in the learning process. Training programs and their delivery should provide ample opportunities for the trainer to ask questions, facilitate discussion, and have students and employees participate. The trainer will need to guide this process. The trainer will need to know the training program, company policies and procedures, contracts, etc., and have experience with adult learning.


 Skills are “how to do things”. Some examples of the skills that trainee or employees will need to master are conducting a pre-trip inspection, securing a wheelchair, how to drive defensively, how to make a proper turn, how to operate the equipment on their vehicle, etc. These skills are typically taught during a behind the wheel portion of the training program, or out of the classroom environment and into the vehicle. It is important for the trainer to be able to not only explain the process or procedure, but to demonstrate it them selves and then have the student or employee demonstrate it. In order for the trainer to be successful, they must be able explain and demonstrate the skills required. If they do not know the material, and how to deliver the training,  then the learning of the skill will not be completed by the new driver or employee. 

Tips for Effective Teaching for the Trainer

Encourage Questions & Participation – It is important that trainees and employees learn by being actively involve in the learning process. Asking questions helps them think and when they start thinking about something, they start to learn. Not only does this happen for new drivers in a classroom session, but also in a safety meeting setting, or Behind the Wheel training. Very little learning takes place when an instructor lectures for hours at a time. Participants will only retain about 10% to 20% of what they hear or read. After a while, participants will tune the instructor out.  According to “Dales Cone of Learning”, the student will learn and retain knowledge at 90%-100% level when the see and do- active learning takes place. 

It is important that trainers learn effective teaching techniques. In the classroom, these can be how to position themselves in the classroom, how not to be a distraction, how to prepare their lesson plan, how to set up a classroom or room layout, what is the environment like, do I need special equipment, and the list can go on. Safety Meetings should become workshops, not lecture halls.  During the Behind the Wheel training session, students can see the trainer demonstrate the skill, and then the student will need to attempt it.  

Trainers Need to Coach Trainees Through Failure – When a trainee or employee has difficulty in class or fails to achieve a standard, trainers must provide them with encouragement. A good way to do this is through discussion points, or asking the following questions:

  • What do you think went wrong?
  • Why do you think it happened?
  • What can you do next time to get better?
  • What can I do to help?

It is important for the trainer to be able to communicate with the students or employees and give the appropriate answers. Having a qualified instructor who can address What is in it for me with the drivers or employees is important to the learning process. Having these discussions and reviewing the questions will help change drivers’ behaviors.  

Preaching Relevance

Trainees must understand why it is necessary for learning a new skill or standard, or job knowledge. Trainees should be able to describe:

  • What are the benefits of learning this standard, skill, or skills?
  • How will you use the information when you are on the job?
  • What will happen if you do not mast this standard, skill, or knowledge.

Last month we talked about “NORMS” and policy, procedures, and programs. Setting the NORM for a skill, skills, or job knowledge will help the trainee or employee understand the relevance and avoid risk.  The trainer in this case must be able to review and discuss each question above. Learning the company “NORMS” is a mandatory requirement for all trainers.  Being able to answer the questions will help the trainer teach the subject in question, and have the student learn correctly.

In Summary

It is especially important for companies to understand why trainers need to be trained. Trainers to be trained properly, not only in the proper way to deliver teaching techniques but how the adult learner learns.  Every adult learns at different paces and the trainer must ensure that they have taken all the steps necessary to have learning take place. By ensuring the trainer is trained properly, the company can become the best that it can be in the NEMT industry.

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