Facilitator vs Trainer

businessmanThere is a lot of hype about Facilitators and Trainers.  Is there a difference? Are we using the correct title?  I most definitely think there is a big difference between a facilitator and a trainer, having said that,  both have an important role to play.  Are you a facilitator, a trainer… or both?

The following is an article written by Guila Muir which I find gives valuable  insight.

” The greatest trainers and facilitators do share many characteristics and behaviors. However, I believe the role of trainer and facilitator are ineluctably different and that it’s important to distinguish between them. This will not only help reduce confusion about the terms, but (more importantly, to me-) ensure they retain real meaning.

Major Differences Between Facilitator and Trainer Roles

Great Facilitator

  • Is not necessarily a content expert.
  • Is an expert in many forms of group process (including inter-and-intra-group conflict resolution, strategic planning, team building, etc.)
  • Often helps the group to define and verbalize its own outcomes (e.g. to solve a specific problem or develop a new procedure.) When outcomes are externally prescribed, helps the group develop, implement and “own” action steps to achieve the outcomes.
  • Sees facilitation as a process to help achieve specific “bits” of broad organizational goals.

Great Adult Educator (Trainer)

  • Is a content expert.
  • Is not necessarily expert in many forms of group process.
  • Instead, continually develops new methods to help participants achieve specific learning outcomes.
  • Most often in corporate, organizational or higher education settings, the trainer does not help each learner group establish its own learning outcomes. (That’s a whole other approach, called Popular Education.) However, the trainer may be involved in implementing and/or analyzing the results of training needs assessments. These should include input from representative (potential) participants as well as other stakeholders.
  • Often focuses on training’s impact on actual, discrete job performance or tasks.
  • Trainer may evaluate training’s effectiveness long after the training event takes place.

Elements the Two Roles Share Both great facilitators and the best trainers…

  • Help the group achieve specific outcomes through the use of
    active, participatory, participant-centered methods.
  • regularly evaluate the process in real time, and can measure how well the participants achieved the stated outcomes at the end of the process.
  • have made themselves familiar with the organizational culture and context in which they are working, and ensure the processes “fit” that culture.
  • stimulate dialogue and interaction between participants, not just between themselves and the participants.

In this article, I’ve tried to scratch the surface of similarities and differences between facilitation and training. I believe passionately in the value of each. Both can help us understand ourselves, each other, our work, and the world better. Beyond that, they play different roles in the workplace and community.”


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