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Industry

June 9, 2016

Trainers vs facilitators

I used to believe a coffee trainer just had to understand coffee well, have a good palette and be able to teach making nice coffee to other people. These days, however, another myriad of personal qualities have become vital in for a successful coffee trainer. This piece delves into an element of personality and its effect on being a trainer.

Process thinkers and outcome thinkers are very different in their teaching style. Some tend more to be instructors, others fashion themselves more as facilitators. The best trainers manage to attain a mix of both of these styles. Process thinkers are great at executing the delivery of structured content. They think in steps and they are very clear in explanation of these steps. These styles of trainers can get things done in the short term and are great for getting people and cafes started when a structural and theoretical basis are so important. Yet they are less flexible to advanced situations.

Outcome thinkers have more flexibility and can focus on the outcome rather than the steps to getting there. They are better suited to more advanced trainings and to retain the relationships with clients. Outcome thinkers see training more as creating the space for one to learn within while also helping to steer the thought process towards the best approach. This approach allows people, with an understanding of what the goal is and a sound theoretical basis, to dictate the steps they want to take to achieve that end goal.

The trouble, however, can be in not getting a clear point across or not providing a practical means of achieving a simple goal in the short term. This highlights the importance of having both qualities as a coffee trainer. From the beginning coffee is very structured and there are fundamental principles in place. When these fundamental principles are understood, it is important that ANY trainer is able to identify the desired result and reapply the steps in a more personalised way Depending on the size of the company and the expectations of clients, it is important to understand how congruent with the expected role the personality traits of trainers being employed are: for example, strong process thinkers are going to find it difficult to provide really advanced and personalised service to key clients straight away.

 

People will always have their strengths and weaknesses and it is rare to find a balanced mix of these approaches. It is, however, important to identify what traits that person leans towards and whether this makes them appropriate for the job. Just because someone is good at coffee doesn’t mean they have great potential as a trainer. The right interpersonal skills can be almost more important than a deep theoretical understanding and, like in any job, technical skills can be learned but personality is ingrained.

 





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