Elevating the Role of Training

By Terbish Tsendsuren 

From "The CoESPU MAGAZINE" no. 4 - 2020

Section: "Training and Learning Architecture: Join Training and Cooperation for the Maintenance of Peace and Security ", page 22

DOI Code: 10.32048/Coespumagazine4.20.3

Training is an important element of effective performance. That is why it matters. That is why training is strategically important for any Organization striving to remain relevant and competent.


However, for far too long, training has been an after-thought. It is only when we start implementing and rolling out policies and strategies that we think of training amongst other “activities”. Partly, this is due to the traditional way of conducting training where the primary focus is on learning produced in a controlled environment disjointed from the world of work and measuring training success as a completed activity in itself, rather than its impact on performance. Today, ensuring learning is still paramount but simply no longer sufficient. Instead, training and development professionals have started challenging the old habits we all grew comfortable with and positioning training to produce something more valuable to the Organization – performance and results. This shift in focus was the guiding principle when the Integrated Training Service of the Department of Peace Operations (ITS-DPO) designed and developed specialized training materials for Training of Trainers (TOT STM) for all peacekeeping trainers, including national military and police trainers.


Both the UN and Member States are part of the peacekeeping training architecture with shared as well as distinct roles and responsibilities. The ITS-DPO supports national peacekeeping training institutions and peacekeeping trainers of troop and police contributing countries by providing specialized training services and capacity-building activities, deploying mobile training teams and undertaking training recognitions amongst other services. ITS also develops and disseminates core pre-deployment and standardized training materials. The overall goal of the new TOT STM is to upgrade trainers’ skills through cultivating an impact-oriented vision and mindset. It will also support the United Nations Police Training Architecture Programme, which aims to ensure that UNPOL are able to effectively implement mandated tasks based on the Strategic Guidance Framework for International Policing (SGF), international human rights norms, gender and environmental standards. Upon completing the training of trainers in conjunction with one of the six police-specific training such as on community-oriented policing and intelligence-led policing, Member State trainers will be certified as a ‘UN-certified Police Trainer’ to support the co-ordinated roll-out of the Police Training Architecture Programme, meeting the pre-deployment training needs of police contributing countries.


The five-day TOT STM takes the Training Cycle – analysis, design, development, delivery, evaluation and reporting – as a core thread, while focusing on areas that traditionally lacked collective attention. One such area is front-end analysis, otherwise known as performance analysis. This step broadly examines the problem or opportunity at hand and determines probable underlying causes for non-performance and under-performance. In order to design an effective training intervention, trainers must first understand human performance which may be a new domain for many. Effective performance can be hindered due to systemic issues, organizational culture and a lack of leadership. The ‘analysis’ part of the Training Cycle is strengthened in the TOT STM and the linkage between training and performance is discussed throughout of the modules.   


Module 1 of the TOT course starts with the front-end analysis to help training professionals to come to terms with the fact that training is not a cure-all. By carefully examining the root cause of underperformance and investing the limited training resources where they are likely to make the most impact, the training managers will learn to become more strategic and focused. After establishing that training can be one of the tools for performance improvement, Module 1 lays out the stages of training needs analysis and target audience analysis. ITS-DPO regularly conducts peacekeeping training needs assessments (TNA) to inform the development of peacekeeping training policies and standardized materials. The methodologies, processes and findings of these TNAs are examined and discussed in a case study during the course to provide trainers an overall view of peacekeeping training architecture.


To train a peacekeeper, you have to know the peacekeeper! Yet, the general tendency is that a trainer drops by and rushes through a topic, without thorough considerations for his or her audience’s cognitive abilities, baseline competencies, learning preferences, motivations and performance needs. The reason that this scenario happens is that most trainers are not adequately trained on customized lesson design and therefore overly rely on generic off-the-shelf training materials. Module 2 on Theories of Learning and Lesson Design addresses this gap and puts emphasis on designing lessons tailored to the audience.


Module 2 also guides trainers on how to write learning objectives, which shape the core learning content, at appropriate levels of complexity. The knowledge, skills and behavioral pyramids, referred to as the Bloom’s Taxonomy, Psychomotor and Affective Domain Taxonomy, are important to be aware of when designing a lesson that is appropriate to the level and experience of its intended recipients. Learning objectives of child protection training for battalion or formed police unit commanders would need to be at a higher cognitive level, enabling them to critically analyze challenges on the ground and make informed and prompt decisions. However, the same training for personnel new to peacekeeping would have lower or application level learning objectives, such as focusing on the concepts and definitions and how they are applied in practice.  


Module 3 of the TOT course focuses on training evaluation which has two primary purposes: to improve training effectiveness and demonstrate its results. The theoretical basis for training evaluations, including Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation methodology, is widely discussed among training professionals, however not effectively used. The reaction and learning evaluations occur during the training, making them the easiest and subsequently the most popular forms of evaluation to conduct. Evaluating learning is also quite straightforward and it is within the trainers’ sphere of control. However, the TOT STM aims to raise the bar higher - towards establishing behavioral and results-based evaluation practices in peacekeeping training, which represents the level 3 and 4 evaluations. Shifts from learning to performance occur on the job and this is where the training has the highest potential to influence key performance indicators and operational results. It is therefore important for trainers to understand and integrate this linkage early on in the training design and development. The module also teaches the trainers how to develop and use evaluation instruments and understand and process first-hand training data collected during training needs assessments and root cause analysis.     


The last two modules of the course aim to develop training delivery skills. Now, think about the last training course you attended… “Power point slides are rolling and you are gently lulled by your trainer’s monotone voice. You nod your head to signal your understanding or maybe to mask your post-lunch energy dip. The lesson topic sounds somewhat familiar or maybe not, but in any case you heard that definition before. Besides, there are a few dominant participants in the class, so you’d rather let them take centre stage. Instead, you start thinking about the work emails you have to respond to and wonder if you can peek at them during the class without being noticed”. Does this sound familiar to you? This is one of the scenarios that needs to be prevented from occurring and the TOT course teaches the future trainers how. More specifically, the delivery modules aim to increase trainers’ ability to stimulate learning, communicate effectively, manage classroom dynamics and deliver content confidently. The TOT STM is completed by a certification process upon submissions of individual assignments, demonstration of facilitation skills and satisfactory peer reviews and facilitator assessments.


The next steps of the TOT STM development project include pilot testing in collaboration with national training centers, incorporating feedback from peacekeeping trainers, including police trainers, and officially launching the STM through the Peacekeeping Resource Hub by early  2021. Thereafter, regional training of trainers’ courses will be conducted in English and French.


In the age of knowledge, we as an Organization invest a considerable amount of time, funds and effort to produce high quality training materials and learning sources. However, it is only the trainers who bring them to life and deliver them to learners. The way we train the trainers is evolving with more emphasis on facilitation of learning and exchange of good practices.. Peacekeeping trainers are increasingly seen as one of the most important actors to keep and build peace one lesson at a time. We will continue contributing to this undertaking through the  training of trainers’ course which will enhance the capacity of police contributing countries to deploy United Nations police officers ready to meet operational challenges.



Terbish Tsendsuren, Integrated Training Service, UN Department of Peace Operations