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The Trainer's Journey to Competence.

The Trainer's Journey to Competence, by Jean Barbazette, Book, 2005, Pfeiffer & Company, $40.

The Trainer's Journey to Competence is the latest book by The Training Clinic's founder, Jean Barbazette, whose previous books include Instant Case Studies and Successful New Employee Orientation. In her new book, Barbazette has once again sought to capture the essence of a timely topic.

What do trainers need to do today?

While professional associations for trainers debate the future of the profession and skills trainers will need in the future, the author focuses on the present and the practical. She intends to answer the questions, "What are people who work in training doing now? How do we know whether they are performing effectively? And, what can we do to improve?"

The book contains nine chapters; four set the stage for discussing competencies by quickly comparing the centralized training function to the decentralized, defining what a competency is, discussing the role of competency in a department of one, and introducing development of internal certification programs with a brief discussion of the process and issues involved.

The remaining five chapters are the core of the book. In them Barbazette has split the activities performed in a training function into five areas: trainer or instructor, facilitator or coach, course designer, training manager, and training coordinator. Each chapter begins with a two- to three-page checklist of the competencies described in the chapter. This checklist names the competency and describes results or output that would be an observable performance measure for the competency at a basic level and at an advanced level. This checklist is followed by an "expanded checklist," which is an in-depth description of each competency.

In each chapter, she uses the same format. The competency is named and described in one paragraph at the basic level, followed by the relevant supporting knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs). On the following page, the same information is furnished for the advanced level of the competency. The bulleted list format of the competency descriptions makes reference and comparison easy.

The book describes 103 competencies used in the training function: 16 for trainers, 10 for facilitators, five for coaches, 32 for course designers, 22 for training managers, and 18 for training coordinators. One-paragraph overviews of a development plan for that role followed by a blank template conclude each chapter.

An Appendix shows sample competency model checklists, which duplicate the shorter checklists at the beginning of the five role chapters and add a column for rating each competency on the left side. Barbazette's proposed ratings are A (Advanced tangible results), B (Basic tangible results), I (Incomplete intangible result), or N (No tangible results observed). The CD-ROM that comes with the book contains both snort and expanded checklists with all of the competency descriptions and KSAs; they could be used as a basis for customized competency checklists and development plans. The checklist files are provided Word format, and a Word reader is included on the CD-ROM.

Unanswered questions

Barbazette intends the book as a resource, a list of items that can be customized to fit an organization and the unique set of tasks and roles in its training function. the author says using the book can create an opportunity for discussion of who is doing what and what level of performance is expected or demonstrated in an organizational setting.

The author notes that the book is not intended for the beginner. However, it appears well able to serve the beginner in a training role because it outlines a wide range of competencies. If you are unfamiliar with training roles, itemizing expected performance might be useful. For example, someone starting out as an instructor may not be aware that effecting learning transfer could be a competency for that role.

However, experienced people may find themselves questioning the framework. It is not clear why the course designer role has 32 competencies, while coaches have only five. In each role chapter, the text descriptions note just slight differences between the basic and advanced levels of a competency. Sometimes the difference between basic and advanced is identified only in the bullet points for the supporting knowledge, making it hard to understand how to grow and move up a level.

Surprisingly, the bullet points are written in terms that are not measurable, such as "Is aware of...." The competencies and their KSAs, deliberately created to be useful across many organizations, may instead be so general that substantial work is needed to revise them into descriptions useful for evaluation and development of people in the training function.

Recommendation

If your organization has the time and resources to devote to a detailed analysis of training function competencies, The Trainer's Journey to Competence could be a useful starting point for discussion. In addition, understanding the levels of knowledge in Bloom's taxonomy would be beneficial. This skill would help in writing a custom set of KSAs for the competencies. If, however, you are looking for a way to build your own competencies or move into another job role within a training function, this book is expensive and has limited usefulness because it is not specific enough to use as a tool on its own.

Review by Ann Yakimovicz
Product Ratings

The Trainer's Journey to Competence

Holds user interest **
Value of Content **
Self-Study Value * 1/2
Value for the money * 1/2
Overall rating **
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Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Yakimovicz, Ann
Publication:Training Media Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:889
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