The difference between facilitators and trainers

Some companies use the terms trainers and facilitators interchangeably. This
causes confusion. Just as managers and leaders have different roles within an
organisation, trainers and facilitators have different motivations and
expectations. Both are very important in enabling businesses to achieve their
long-term goals. Understanding these differences can help a company make sure
that it has the correct balance of both trainers and facilitators within its
training programs.


A facilitator is someone who works broadly to achieve organisational goals. This
might include training as part of the process, but there may be other aspects
involved too; such as observing, listening and long-term planning. A great
facilitator is not necessarily a content expert, but is someone who is used to
looking at the big picture and working out the way forwards. For instance, if the
vision for the organisation is to improve working relations with international
offices a facilitator might look at ways of changing organisational culture in
order to help that to happen. This then provides the roads along which the more
formal training programs will travel.


Trainers are the people who respond to the need for specific goals and
requirements. The ultimate content expert, a trainer looks for ways to help
people achieve clearly defined outcomes . These outcomes have usually been
decided well in advance of the training session by someone higher up the chain.
Goals can be as simple as improving efficiency by a certain percentage, or might
be more complex tasks such as helping to train people towards equality and
diversity. Like a facilitator a trainer needs to be able to see the long-term
plan, but this is viewed less in terms of distant goals than in carefully
designed training strategies.

Facilitators and Trainers

Just like managers and leaders, some qualities of the training process are
shared. Both help the group to reach specific outcomes through a range of
participant-centered methods. Both have to conduct regular evaluations during
the process, measuring how well the participants are doing. They both need to be
very aware of the broader organisational culture, and need to make sure their
work fits within that culture. Finally, both are challenged with imbibing an
organisation with a training spirit, so that the dialogue is not trainer-group
or facilitator-group, but group-group.

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