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Coaching Tip

Working With a Co-Trainer, by Cathy Bolger

"Based on direct feedback from participants, the best experiences they've had have been when power is shared between co-facilitators. That means there's a seamless give-and-take between the two, where mutual respect between the facilitators is demonstrated, along with fun and warmth."
—Karen Dietz, trainer and facilitator

I really enjoy co-training. I wish that I had more opportunities to train with someone else. So, when I do get the opportunity, I want to maximize our effectiveness. How do we do that? In addition to my own ideas, I ask colleagues for their ideas on how to maximize co-training opportunities so we can present as a seamless, integrated training team.

Below I have listed success tips in five categories. These have proved helpful for maximizing co-trainers' effectiveness.

1. Before

  • Ensure a shared understanding of the desired outcomes.

  • Discuss roles and responsibilities related to:
    • Kick off and wrap-up

    • Different sections of the agenda

    • Segues and hand offs

    • Time frames, and what to do if behind schedule

  • Discuss level of engagement while other person is training.

  • Discuss preferences around interjections and interruptions from other trainer.

  • Together, walk through the agenda at least a week before the training.

2. Just Before
  • Expect to be in the room an hour ahead of time to troubleshoot any problems and ensure that the room is configured correctly.

  • Allow for a few moments of peace before the participants arrive.

  • Have everything in place in order to greet participants as they arrive.

3. During
  • Conduct informal check-ins during the day.

  • Discuss what is working and fine-tune anything that isn't.

  • Reference something the co-trainer did or said, and reference the co-trainer by name, so learners get a sense of respect between co-trainers-for example, "Remember the great point Cathy made this morning about..."

4. After
  • Look through evaluations together and discuss them.

  • Ask for and give feedback to each other.

  • Discuss ways to continuously improve.

  • Make a plan to implement ideas for improvement.

5. Relationship Dynamics
  • Discuss personal patterns (perhaps based on the Myers Briggs or FIRO-B) and how to best use that information to utilize strengths and make adjustments.

  • Discuss how to share power (see quote at beginning of the article).

  • Co-training can enhance the learning experience. It takes planning and communication before, during and after the training event.

Cathy Bolger is a San Diego-based consultant specializing in Presentation Skills, Meeting Skills, and Conflict Management Skills. She can be reached at 619 294-2511 or Cathy@CathyBolger.com.

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