Instructor Excellence

In the early 1990s, my manager at the time and I had to hire two dozen contractors who would deliver a high-profile, intensively hands-on training program: a total of five days of instruction (an initial three days, with the final two days about a month later) for each of some 2,400 sales representatives and supervisors.

Instructor Excellence (first edition) One invaluable resource was Instructor Excellence: Mastering the Delivery of Training.

Although at times a person can get the impression that from now on everyone’s going to learn informally, virtually, digitally (and apparently on his own time), I keep thinking that well-designed, well-delivered training can help people learn, and help the organization make better use of their skills.

What’s more, even though Powers for the most part talked about classroom-based training, if you apply some of his advice in other settings, I know he won’t come over and let the air out of your tires.

Bob Powers published this practical, results-oriented book in 1992. I used it to develop interview questions for our candidates, to design our instructor-training program, and to create a system for observing instructors and providing them feedback throughout the program.

Powers identified various performance standards for instructors, grouped under such headings as preparation, gaining participation, platform skills, questioning, and so on. He provided examples for each of some sixty standards.

He also discussed how to define the performance requirements for a particular instructional situation, how to create and conduct an interview, and how to deal with evaluation, motivation, and feedback.

Along the way, he provided pragmatic suggestions — like this one for dealing with the possibility that some of the participants don’t want to be in the session:

  1. Ask participants to take a small piece of paper and rate what Powers called “your desire to be here.” A 1 would mean “I’d rather be anyplace else” while a 10 would mean “right here is great.”
  2. Collect the papers and have someone read off the scores.
  3. As the scores are read, tally them on a board or flipchart.
  4. Ask the participants to interpret the results as a whole. (Notice: you’re not asking Monica why she wrote 4; you’re asking what the group thinks about the range of scores, or the low overall average, or whatever they see.)
  5. Thank the group for their candor. Tell them you’ll do your best to make the program of value.

As Powers pointed out, the information you get from this five-minute exercise can give you data for coping with many potential problems. If the average score is low, you might discover that participants were ordered to attend. You can address that as seems best, and they will have had their feelings aired.

Instructor Excellence (second edition)The reason for this post?

In today’s mail I received a brochure from the ISPI bookstore and learned that there’s a new edition of Instructor Excellence.

Follow the bookstore links and you’ll come to the book’s page on the Wiley publishing site (that’s this page). Wiley provides PDF links to the first chapter, the index, and the table of contents.

The new edition, co-authored by William J. Rothwell, comes with a CD that appears to provide digital copies of many of the tables, checklists, and tools in the book.