Book review: The Group Trainer’s Handbook


The Group Trainer’s Handbook
Designing and delivering training for groups
Author David Leigh
Price 27.50
ISBN 0 7494 4744 3

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I feel heartened that there is still a market for a book like this. I was anxious that group training, with its myriad of benefits, had been eclipsed by solitary e-learning or the confused, if well-intentioned, efforts of line managers.

Just reprinted in its third edition in June, this succinct book is intended for anyone working on the acquisition of skills, knowledge, or behaviour for training more than two people.

Author David Leigh offers a ready-to-go approach to group training while expounding benefits such as the collaborative approach to working and problem solving, and the opportunity to build a business network face-to-face.

Those confused line managers are catered for as the book offers a lucid approach to both course design and delivery skills. It demystifies the objective-setting process and has an excellent glossary of training methods. These include action mazes, fishbowls – which are a means of studying group behaviour – and, of course, workshops. The advantages and disadvantages of each are listed.

The book’s practical nature means that complex issues are reduced to their bare essentials and become a quick read rather than an in-depth discussion. For example, the topic ‘Developing a Lesson Plan’ contains a section about how adults learn.

This is based on eight simplistic points, such as: “Each person learns at their own pace”. This perfunctory approach did, initially, worry me. But, ultimately, I feel Leigh deserves praise for making less experienced trainers aware of issues such as how to identify learning styles, which still puzzle the experts.

Delivery and training skills are covered in the second section. A variety of problems are dealt with, from managing difficult behaviours and evaluating training, to how to create the right environment. The size of the intended audience means this advice ranges in quality from the lofty to the pedestrian, but this adds to the comprehensive feel of the book.

All in all this is a helpful manual that should enjoy a long shelf life.

Useful? 4 out of 5
Well-written? 4 out of 5
Value for money? 3 out of 5

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