What Is Train-the-Trainer Model? (+Components)

train the trainer

As more organizations move away from traditional classroom training methodologies, collaborative learning has become an effective employee training method, as L&D teams are harnessing the value of peer-to-peer learning and knowledge transfer. 

The train-the-trainer approach to workplace learning is a powerful framework for enabling peer-to-peer training by facilitating new training skills to internal subject matter experts tasked with training others in their areas of expertise. 

In this article, we will explain the train-the-trainer model and what makes it uniquely effective and give you the key steps to implementing a successful train-the-trainer program for your organization.

What Is the Train the Trainer Model?

Train-the-trainer programs teach employees how to train other employees and help facilitate skill transfer from subject matter experts to other employees. Train-the-trainer may also refer to equipping internal training facilitators with new skills, like how to use a new training technology or on a new sales training program. With this approach, an external trainer or subject matter expert conducts the initial training session, and subsequent trainings are completed by the newly minted internal trainers.  

How the Train the Trainer Framework Works

Train-the-trainer models aim to turn instructors into subject matter experts or turn subject matter experts into trainers. This enables organizations to develop a strong internal training foundation by building community among team members, instilling them with advanced leadership and communication skills, and encouraging employee engagement. 

This method also benefits organizations by reducing reliance on external trainers, promoting agility, and increasing knowledge retention compared to traditional workplace learning approaches.

train the trainer framework

Key Components of a Successful Train the Trainer Program

Train-the-trainer programs are designed to equip employees with everything they need to become subject matter experts and train fellow employees on what they’ve learned. While certain features may vary across organizations based on company goals and employee needs, several appear in all programs.  

Here are a few of the essential components of an effective train-the-trainer program.

train the trainer components

1. Curriculum design

Effective training programs begin with a foundation that includes well-thought-out curriculum design. Train-the-trainer curricula are unique in that they need to deliver training content and equip participants to deliver that same content just as effectively. 

This means that an effective train-the-trainer curriculum should include core subject-matter information and equip trainers with skills like instructional techniques, facilitation and presentation skills, and adult learning principles to help them become strong teachers and training facilitators. 

Train-the-trainer curricula also include various learning activities, such as traditional assessments, practical application exercises, and role-playing activities, to guarantee learning retention and help learners become used to recalling and retelling what they’ve learned.

2. Trainer selection

As your train-the-trainer program is rolled out, it is critical to select participants who are capable of and interested in becoming leaders within your organization. 

Since the goal is to prepare existing employees to become subject matter experts and teach their colleagues, it is important to choose engaged employees who already have some experience in the subject matter, good communication skills, and positive attitudes in the workplace. 

To maintain high engagement, it is also essential to consider each individual’s availability, willingness, and interest – you want to choose participants who want to participate!

3. Interactive training methods

When fleshing out your train-the-trainer program, choose a mix of learning approaches and content modalities that match the needs of the many aspects of your program. 

Interactive training methods actively engage trainers, making the learning process more dynamic and effective. These methods include role-playing, group discussions, hands-on training activities, and simulated learning, which all help to enable trainers to grasp complex concepts and techniques through practical application and peer collaboration. This approach not only enhances comprehension and retention but also equips trainers with diverse strategies to engage their future trainees effectively.

4. Evaluation and feedback mechanisms

The complex nature of train-the-trainer programs also necessitates a unique mix of evaluation and feedback mechanisms to ensure success. To gauge learner progress, incorporate knowledge checks and skill assessments in various formats, like quizzes, hands-on exercises, and post-training feedback surveys

Incorporate opportunities for learner feedback along the way and track long-term benchmarks and KPIs to continually improve your program and ensure new trainers effectively disseminate information in the long run.

5. Building change resilience

Change resilience refers to the ability to adapt to and thrive amidst organizational changes and challenges. By providing resilience training, the program prepares trainers to handle and lead through transitions confidently. This involves teaching them how to manage resistance to change, communicate effectively about changes, and maintain a positive outlook. 

Resilient trainers are better equipped to support their teams, fostering an environment where employees feel supported and motivated during times of change. Together, interactive training methods and building change resilience ensure that trainers are not only skilled in their subject matter but also capable of leading and inspiring their teams through the evolving corporate landscape.

5 Steps To Implementing a Train-the-Trainer Program

The additional material included in a train-the-trainer initiative can make program development seem more intense than other training activities. Here are five steps for implementing a new corporate train-the-trainer program.

1. Clarify the purpose of the program

Start by establishing goals that your train-the-trainer program must meet. Assess needs and identify training faciliattion skill gaps of your subjective matter experts and internal trainers by interviewing managers and reading performance data and annual reviews. 

From here, you can create SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) that will inform the structure and content of your trainer upskilling program. This will enable your facilitators to become better instructors that can transfer subject matter expertise to others in your workforce.

2. Design measurement and assessment process

For each goal, establish KPIs and benchmarks to measure your training effectiveness as the train the trainer program is rolled out. These will help your team monitor the success of your training program and make adjustments as necessary. 

With SMART goals and KPIs in hand, you can decide how learner progress will be measured. This will take two parts since participants are both acquiring knowledge and learning how to pass it on to others. This aspect may vary depending on the nature of your training. 

For instance, if the skills at the center of your train-the-trainer program are focused on interpersonal activities such as sales, it makes more sense to conduct assessments involving interaction simulations or role-playing. If it focuses more on internalizing product knowledge, a standard test-style assessment might be more effective. 

It is often best to include a mix of both approaches to ensure that participants can recall what they’ve learned accurately and convey every detail to others clearly and concisely.

3. Develop the training plan

Now, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of it all. Begin filling in the structure of your program with materials and activities designed to create effective employee trainers. Incorporate activities and assessments that teach your learners information, leadership skills, and teaching approaches or pedagogies to prepare employees for their new responsibilities. 

A typical train-the-trainer program structure looks something like: 

  • Session 1: Kickoff & team building
  • Session 2: Initial soft skills assessment & content-based lectures
  • Session 3: Facilitation activities & content-based lectures
  • Session 4: Presentation skills & knowledge assessment

4. Leverage technology for trainer development

Organizations should leverage employee training software to equip their training facilitators and subject matter experts with the training and instructor skills needed to be effective teachers. 

Furthermore, training facilitators will also need to be experts in these technologies in order to become effective trainers. Without the skills of creating training modules in your LMS or building a new slide deck in your presentation software, trainers will not be able to effectively create the course content they need.

Examples of common training software found in organizations learning and development stack include:

  • Corporate learning management systems (LMS): An LMS allows trainers to create, deliver, organize, track progress, and report on training courses and programs.
  • Instructional design software: Instructional design software provide trainers with no-code course creation tools tp create interactive learning content and training experiences in formats like presentations, audio recordings, webinars, and videos.
  • Digital adoption platforms (DAP): DAPs provide trainers a no-code editor to create in-app training experiences that guide employees through applications and digital workflows, providing live tutorials that employees can follow in the flow of work.

Software clicks better with Whatfix's digital adoption platform

Enable your employees with in-app guidance, self-help support, process changes alerts, pop-ups for department announcements, and field validations to improve data accuracy.

5. Continuous feedback and iterative improvement

As your teams and organizations grow, it is essential that L&D strategies evolve in tandem. Use assessment data to make informed improvements to your train-the-trainer program. Acknowledge and incorporate feedback from your learners and trainers to keep them engaged and capable of training their colleagues. 

Train the Trainer Agenda Template

Download our train-the-trainer template to see an example of a train the trainer course, agenda, and schedule are structured. Use it as a starting point for your first train the trainer sessions and modify it according to your contextual training facilitator and upskilling needs.

Get a customizable copy of our Train-the-Trainer template now!

✓ Thank you, the template will be sent to your email

Enable employees to learn in the flow of work with Whatfix

Whatfix enables employees to learn by doing, supporting them in their daily tasks and workflows with contextual performance support.

Whatfix DAP empowers subject matter experts to create in-app training content that overlays digital applications, like step-by-step walkthroughs, smart tips, and self-help knowledge bases – with an easy-to-use and highly customizable no-code content editor. 

Use Guidance Analytics to steer and improve training content and ensure learners receive relevant and useful training materials at every stage of your program. Create in-app Surveys to collect end-user feedback on the training experience and in-app content.

With Whatfix Mirror, quickly onboard new employees and faciliate hands-on IT training. Whatfix Mirror allows organizations to create replica sandbox environments for mission-critical software applications, allowing employees to learn by doing without risking live software usage.

Whatfix helps your L&D team create more effective train-the-trainer programs and engage learners as they become leaders. 

To learn more, schedule a free demo with us today!

What Is Whatfix?
Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that provides organizations with a no-code editor to create in-app guidance on any application that looks 100% native. With Whatfix, create interactive walkthroughs, product tours, task lists, smart tips, field validation, self-help wikis, hotspots, and more. Understand how users are engaging with your applications with advanced product analytics.
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Whatfix's digital adoption platform empowers your employees, customers, and end-users with in-app guidance, reinforcement learning, and contextual self-help support to find maximum value from software.

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