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How to Survive as a Trainer

Posted by Marsha Weisleder on 7/18/13 4:00 AM
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Someone once told me that I have a “GLAM JOB” and they were absolutely right! I meet interesting people every day, put on a show, AND get to travel across North America. No, I’m not a supermodel but sometimes I feel pretty close. I’m a trainer and proud of it. Well, I guess I’m really an “accidental trainer” – I didn’t know about this profession when I was planning my career – I just fell into it. The good news is I’ve never looked back. I’m passionate about what I teach and I get to work with clients from all over the world. Yes, it’s pretty glam!


But it’s not always champagne and caviar. Being a trainer does have its challenges. Some trainers experience burnout because they’re on the road 40 weeks out of the year. Others get bored because they’re teaching the same course over and over. Some say they reach plateaus and feel stagnant in the position. I’ve heard others complain that their work appears to be of little value. Can you imagine teaching a room full of prisoners all the time? Finally, it can feel somewhat isolating because you’re usually on your own.


Keep in mind, the life of a trainer can range anywhere from 2-5 years. Obviously, this is a concern because we want good trainers to stay in their positions. Luckily, over the years, Langevin has developed different strategies to overcome these negative concerns and have reaped the benefits. I have been with the company 13 years and many of my colleagues have been there even longer. So, what’s the secret? Here’s what they do.


We typically spend, on average, 50 - 75 percent of our time in the classroom each month, so as not to suffer from burnout. We’re able to work from home when we’re not teaching. We also have other responsibilities outside of the classroom. We’re blogging, initiating discussions on LinkedIn, and working with on-site clients. Recently, we developed a mentor program where instructors chat a couple of times a month, sharing new ideas and insights.


I am also lucky because I have developed a very close friendship with one of my colleagues, Melissa Satterfield, based out of Los Angeles. We usually like to plan a trip together, at least once a year. We have an opportunity to talk about work and personal stuff and it actually recharges me every time we get together. This year, we met in Las Vegas for the weekend, and I’ve never laughed and eaten so much in two days.


I guess it’s true that we tend to like people that are similar to ourselves and Melissa is exactly that person. Having a colleague as a friend has helped me feel connected and part of the team. With all of these mechanisms in place, I have thrived and survived as a trainer. They help me to recharge my batteries!


Oh, and if you ever take a workshop in Los Angeles, be sure to ask Melissa about “Thunder from Down Under.” Tell her it’s our secret!

What mechanisms does your company have in place to retain its trainers? What do you do to prevent burnout? I’d love to hear from you!

Dealing with Difficult Participants

Marsha has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. She went on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School and practiced civil litigation for a few years. While working for a company as their in-house legal counsel, Marsha fell into a training position and never looked back! Each day, Marsha brings passion and excitement to her workshops, always encouraging her participants to find their own passion as well. Outside of the classroom, Marsha loves to spend time with her family, travel, and stay active. Of course her main obsession is Elvis! Some people might think she’s a little over-the-top about him, but doesn’t everyone have an Elvis shrine in their home? Maybe not…

Topics: travel, tips-for-trainers

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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