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6 Cognitive Skills and Competencies for Trainers. 13 Fundamental Trainer Skills and Abilities

Cognitive Skills

How to Spot Trainer Talents in the Organization

Assessing the potential of the candidates to be a trainer is the most challenging part of the selection process. To make the best choices, evaluators must know what they are looking for in a good trainer from numerous angles, including both technical skills and abilities and personal characteristics.

We distinguish between natural trainer talents, like patience and genuine caring for others, and fundamental learnable skills, like observational skills and effective communication. In other words, we can teach someone better methods of communication, but, while not impossible, it is tough to “teach” someone to be more caring of others. While we can try to develop these personal characteristics in the trainer, it is easier if they are a natural part of the talent and personality that the person brings to the position.

Fundamental skills, on the other hand, are viewed as learnable skills and abilities that can be gained through continuous practice and guidance. We can list these trainer competencies in these two categories:

Fundamental Trainer Skills and Abilities:

  1. Observation and Analysis Ability: Has ability to assess current work methods, trainees, results of training, and so on
  2. Communication Skills: Has clear/concise speech, gestures, body language, active listening, and the like
  3. Attention to Detail: Provides thorough/complete preparation prior to training, critical details of the job, and so on
  4. Job Knowledge: Has solid knowledge of the job, quality issues, tricks/ key points/critical issues about the job
  5. Respect for Fellow Employees/Colleagues: Demonstrates respect for others; act as a hard-working, knowledgeable role model; shows genuine caring for others

Intuitive Ability/Personal Characteristics of the Trainer—Natural Talents Within:

  1. Willingness to Learn: Has desire and ability to continually learn and grow and to reinvest one’s own learning into teaching
  2. Adaptability and Flexibility: Is able to adapt to work situations, trainees, conditions, and so on
  3. Care and Concern for Others: Genuinely desires trainees to become successful in the job and as a person; offers help naturally without being asked
  4. Patience: Is able to cope with different trainee abilities
  5. Persistence: Can stick to learning process until desired output is achieved and understands different abilities/needs of trainees
  6. Responsibility: Is able to take many decisions throughout the learning process
  7. Confidence and Leadership: Is confident (e.g., when challenged, leads the learning process and provides guidance)
  8. Questioning Nature: Questions the content of the job and understands each part of it; is able to understand/answer questions from trainees

 

To reduce complexity in the selection process, we have merged the skills and natural abilities into six main categories: work attitude, confidence and leadership, communication skills, social attitude, cognitive skills, and questioning nature

 

1. Cognitive Skills

Observing and Analytical Skills; Attention to Detail
Definition: The extent to which one can think in a structured and systematic way. The way one collects information, organizes the pieces into a coherent and meaningful system, and then presents it in a structured, understandable way.
Description of Scale and Grades in Terms of Behavioral Characteristics
Not Sufficient Below Average Average Above Average Excellent
Not able to understand the operation of the work procedure and functions of certain Important Steps and Key Points and the importance of Reasons within the procedure. More or less able to understand the operation of the work procedure and some of the functions of certain Important Steps but little of the importance of Reasons for Key Points within the procedure. Completely understands the operation of the work procedure and the functions of certain Important Steps and Key Points and comprehends the importance of Reasons for Key Points within the procedure.
Does not pay appropriate attention to obtain and present all the available information in a precise manner. Amount of attention he or she pays to obtain and present all the available information in a precise manner varies. Pays appropriate attention to obtain and present all available information in a precise manner.
Confuses, oversimplifies, or even misses important details within the process (Important Steps, Key Points, and Reasons); hence, he or she is not successful in transferring knowledge, and it is not easy to follow the candidate. The Important Steps, Key Points, and Reasons within the process are mentioned and presented in an understandable way and in the correct order. All the Important Steps, Key Points, and Reasons within the process are mentioned and presented in a clearly understandable way and in the fully correct order.
Can be confused by clarifying questions; not confident in the correctness of information he or she has gained. Sometimes can be confused by clarifying questions, but overall is confident in the correctness of information he or she has gained. Cannot be confused by clarifying questions; is totally confident in the correctness of information he or she has gained.

2. Communication Skills

Verbal Communication
Definition: The way one can convey or transmit information to another person with the help of verbal tools.
Description of Scale and Grades in Terms of Behavioral Characteristics
Not Sufficient Below Average Average Above Average Excellent
Does not communicate well; not able to convey his or her thoughts properly; speaking is without any meaningful content. Can communicate at an average level; usually is able to tell his or her thoughts and ask questions in an understandable and clear way. Is an excellent communicator; can express his or her thoughts in a completely clear and understandable manner.
His or her way of telling information is confusing, uncertain, and hardly understandable and is full of mistakes regarding formal traits. Uses vocabulary of an average quality but does not possess and apply extra tools to make his or her communication more efficient. Uses a large variety of verbal and nonverbal tools (repetition, colorful vocabulary, regulation of intonation, emphasis and volume, eye contact, intense gestures, etc.) to make his or her communication efficient; is able to adjust personal style to the characteristics of the partner.
Suggested subcategories within verbal communication to observe:

  • Structure (clarity and understandability of communication)
  • Content of communication (richness, accuracy, and concreteness of information)
  • Formal signs of communication (vocabulary, articulation and pronunciation, grammatical formulation)

 

Nonverbal Communication
Definition: The way one communicates attitudes and affective states (emotions and feelings) toward other people with the help of nonverbal tools, such as body language (mimics, gestures), voice modulation (intonation, volume, stressing, rhythm), and proximity (regulating social space).
Description of Scale and Grades in Terms of Behavioral Characteristics
Not Sufficient Below Average Average Above Average Excellent
The nonverbal behavioral signs shown are rarely in line with the content of his or her verbal communication. The nonverbal behavioral signs shown are usually in line with the content of his or her verbal communication. The nonverbal behavioral signs shown are always in line with the content of his or her verbal communication.
Communication about his or her affective states does not seem to be aligned with the partner and the context of the situation. Therefore, the candidate does not really evoke the impression of a credible person but rather appears dishonest or misleading. Communication about his or her affective states sometimes seems to be well balanced and aligned with the situational factors, but at other times there is a discrepancy between his or her verbal and nonverbal communication. Communication about his or her affective states seems to be well balanced and aligned with the partner and with the context of the situation. He or she evokes the impression of a credible person.
Suggested subcategories within nonverbal communication to observe:

  • Adjustment to partner in content and style (connect thoughts to the words of the partner, align his or her communicational style with the other person’s personality and behavior)
  • Ability to attract attention (make the partner be interested in the topic through the style of speaking)
  • Social-emotional communication (the way of approaching others, gestures, balance in emotional state, eye contact, etc.)

3. Social Attitude

Respect for Others (Including Cooperativeness and Flexibility)
Definition: The direction (positive/negative) of the attitude with which one usually relates toward other people and the extent to which one acts in social situations in a way that shows attention, care, and concern about others’ interest and well-being. This often manifests itself in the form of cooperation and flexibility in adapting to the given circumstances developed by others’ demands and needs.
Description of Scale and Grades in Terms of Behavioral Characteristics
Not Sufficient Below Average Average Above Average Excellent
His or her attitude towards others is usually rejecting, offending, or even aggressive.Does not show a respectful manner involving interactions with others. Shows no interest in forming and maintaining a balanced and psychologically comforting relation with others. Shows respect for other people involving interaction with them.
Not concerned about how to help others; often rejects requests, and sometimes loses his or her temper because of lack of patience. Does not express much willingness to help, however, if asked, he or she serves others’ requests. Expresses genuine care about the well-being of others.Demonstrates high willingness to help, even if not asked to do so.
He or she is not curious or interested in the partner’s opinion at all. Shows some interest in the partner’s views and opinions. Tries to understand the partner’s opinion with empathy and strives to consider his or her requests.
Usually rejects and even degrades the appropriateness of the partner’s thoughts.Obviously does not intend to consider and understand the other’s viewpoint. Expresses his or her understanding, but this does not reflect true empathy. Turns to others with attention and listens to their views carefully.His or her general attitude toward people is characterized by kindness, patience, acceptance, tolerance and helpfulness.
Cares only for his or her own interest and suggests solutions that are contrary to the other’s needs. Makes few efforts to find an outcome which respects all theparticipants’ purposes and interests, but is able to accept a proposal for it. Often searches for solutions which are beneficial for all participants in the situation.

4. Confidence and Leadership

Confidence and Leadership (Also Including Influence on Others)
Definition: The degree to which one is able to put his or her intentions across and convince others of certain things throughout a diverse scale of social situations. When realizing personal goals, one can rely on this skill to step up confidently in front of a bigger audience, be willing to take leadership over a group of people, and be willing and able to have an influence on others.
Description of Scale and Grades in Terms of Behavioral Characteristics
Not Sufficient Below Average Average Above Average Excellent
Is not able to have an effect on others’ views through persuasion; fails to convince other people of a certain idea or concept. How successful he or she is in convincing others of the appropriateness of his or her ideas varies; candidate uses some tools for the sake of persuasion, but not a big variety of them, and does not endure for long, especially if perceives resistance. Is able to convince others of the appropriateness of his or her ideas with the help of good skills of persuasion (explains persistently, approaches topic from diverse perspectives, refers to reliable sources and to own experiences, etc.).
Most of the time his or her actions and behaviors demonstrate uncertainty, ambiguity, and lack of self-confidence. Shows a medium level ofconfidence and determination when needs to speak out for his or her interests; sometimes becomes uncertain about telling his or her opinion. Has the ability to stand out with a proper amount of confidence and assertiveness and give opinions with a high level of determination.
Is not motivated to invest energy into asserting his or her interests; usually gives up on intention and will when faced with difficulties from the partner’s side. Hesitates to assert his or her interests, especially when perceives resistance. But takes control when in a good position to do so. Has the motivation and energy to put his or her interests across, even if he or she perceives resistance from the partner’s side.
Shows no motivation and ability to take the lead over another person or group of people; prefers to be rather passive and to have the position of a subordinate. Demonstrates relatively big amount of changeability in the motivation and ability to take the lead over another person or a group; sometimes is prone to provide guidelines and give instructions to others, but at other times lets control out of his or her own hands. Is prone to take the chance to lead another person (or a certain group of people) toward a goal that is commonly beneficial for both of them.

5. Work Attitude

Performance-Motivation (Including Persistence and Responsibility)
Definition: The degree to which a person is motivated to contribute persistently to a final outcome with one’s own efforts, to which one is facilitated and motivated by one’s own results, and to which one takes responsibility for one’s acts.
Description of Scale and Grades in Terms of Behavioral Characteristics
Not Sufficient Below Average Average Above Average Excellent
Does not invest energy and makes only minor efforts to perform at an acceptable level. Invests an average amount of energy into his or her work that is enough to achieve a medium-level performance. Invests a lot of energy into his or her work to achieve a high-level performance.
Is not persistent in reaching his or her aims when faced with difficulties. To a certain extent, the candidate tries to endure and cope with difficulties but after a while tends to give up and choose an easier way. Is persistent in reaching his or her aims even if faced with obstacles; does not give up his or her targets when coping with difficulties; works diligently on personal goals.
Does not set motivating goals for himself or herself; usually defines deliverables under the level of his or her competencies, which indicates a low aspiration level. Sets targets that are realistic in respect to his or her capabilities, but these goals do not motivate the candidate to improve performance. Is able to set realistic and challenging goals to ensure appropriate level of accomplishment.
Does not feel ownership for the solution of the situation and rejects taking responsibility for contributing to the outcome. Satisfied with the solution if it puts him or her into a prosperous light, but takesresponsibility only for own beneficial and advantageous acts; does not take ownership for possible mistakes. Is proud of and motivated further by the performance level he or she achieved and takesresponsibility for his or her acts leading to the outcome.

6. Questioning Nature

Questioning Nature and Initiative
Definition: The degree to which one invests energy and shows activity throughout the completion of a task or the solution of a problem. This includes the motivation to challenge the given situation and others’ views by asking questions that can encourage shifts in perspectives.
Description of Scale and Grades in Terms of Behavioral Characteristics
Not Sufficient Below Average Average Above Average Excellent
Does not play an active role in the situation; is passive most of the time; does not share his or her thoughts and ideas with others and asks questions rarely. His or her level of initiative shows variability; sometimes is willing to share thoughts, other times only does so when asked to give an opinion. Shows a constant level of initiative by continuously asking clarifying questions, sharing ideas, and telling opinions and arguments in favor of them.
It is not important for him or her to participate in situations and contribute actively toward the outcomes and solutions by investing personal energy and capability. The intensity of his or her participation is changeable; takes part actively once, then acts more reserved. Is eager to take part actively, with his or her own personality and knowledge of the situation.
Rarely fights for his or her viewpoint and does not question others’ proposals. Usually reasons and argues in favor of his or her viewpoint, but questions others’ proposals less frequently. Not afraid of challenging others’ views to find the optimal outcome and avoid possible errors.
His or her proposals and ideas are vague and oftentimes off topic. His or her proposals and ideas are rather schematic, conventional, and general. His or her thoughts and ideas are usually relevant, creative, and authentic.
In case of a change in the situation, he or she reacts slowly, with few relevant comments. Reaction is variable when a situation changes; sluggish to react but participates in giving comments. In case of a sudden change in the situation, he or she reacts promptly and skillfully.