Take a moment and think about the training team in your company, do you have a good picture in your mind? Is the team made up of subject matter experts?

If yes, that is very common as Subject Matter Experts (“SMEs”) have exceptional knowledge and expertise.

SMEs can transform into great trainers with the right focus and support from leadership.

Does your company focus on transitioning SMEs to trainer role?

Learning involves more than the trainer knowing how to do the work. Trainers need to have the skills to teach the work, enforce important behaviors and engage students in learning the work.

In any job or role change, no one should be expected to switch roles successfully without support from leadership including coaching and/or training.


Would you expect a product developer to become a salesperson without knowing how to sell?

If no, the same holds true for an SME who is becoming a Trainer. Trainers have a unique skill set, and great trainers make it look so easy that you may think anybody can be a trainer. The truth is that being a great trainer is much like being a great sales person.  It takes skill, training, passion AND practice!

As with any industry, training is always evolving. Trainers need to be agile and always growing with the evolution. This can be an obstacle for new trainers transitioning from SME roles, as they have relied on always being the expert.

Here is how to start a successful transition from SME to savvy instructor:

  • Provide expectations of the new role. What makes a trainer successful?
    • It’s not about the trainer, it’s about the students!
  • Equip trainers with adult learning principles to captivate and engage their audience.
    • Trainers need to teach students what they need to do the work, no more no less!
  • Build trainer confidence by offering feedback on physical and mental preparation prior to the first few classes.
    • Preparation is key to building trust with students and accomplish business goals! Schedule new and veteran trainers with time to prepare as part of the plan.
  • Encourage your trainer to lead the class on the learning journey!
    • Tell the class how to do the work, show the class how to do the work, then let the class practice doing the work.
  • Support your trainer’s customization of their platform skills to maximize the effectiveness of their training style.
    • Use classroom management tools and engagement techniques to gauge if each student is learning!

SMEs are a great resource for training and development roles. Just remember as with any new role, it’s crucial to prepare for the new position. Train your trainers!

Zelus can help you prepare your trainers with a certification session customized to meet your needs.  Contact us to learn more!