Underneath every learning action is an inner desire to improve one’s abilities. Right? Wrong.
Here’s a situation.
Anita’s boss, who supervises 9 others in her team, reflected upon the productivity and quality data for her team, and decided that the team needed to be trained for their core competencies. So Anita too was sent for a training that would help her do her job better. Anita, however, felt that she didn’t need the training program, what she really needed was a transfer… her project manager’s.
Anita didn’t believe that the training program could help her – in fact, she didn’t believe that there was a need for her to take the program. Her action of attending the training program didn’t stem from any “inner desire” to improve her abilities. Anita would probably put on her mental blinkers the moment she enters the training hall and keep them on until she leaves.
Anita represents the stark truth of corporate training environments, where instead of the participant paying for the training program, his/her organization pays for it. Unfortunately, corporate trainings and even open training program that have an organizational sponsorship component are extremely common, and in fact account for most of the big budget training projects!
Here are three important tips for making these participants more amenable to your training programs.
- Acknowledge their Presence as Individuals.
- Receive information on your Audience’s Psychographics and Entry Behavior in advance of the training program.
- Design your program to establish help the participants map the content to their personal goals.
In other words, figure out who the robin is and what she wants!
1. Acknowledge their Presence as Individuals:
People are different from one-another and they like to be perceived as individuals. In “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Carnegie says that for each of us the sweetest sound in this world is the sound of our own name. This also holds true for the training programs that we conduct, for we generally find ourselves training humans – the species that has the highest degree of self-concept. But I recommend that you don’t stop at memorizing names. Instead, devote the first ten minutes of your training programs, determining what differentiates one participant from another.
I know, it’s easy to preach but difficult to practice – and I too am guilty of ignoring this tenet in some of my training programs – but I make a very sincere effort. Include eye contact, inclusive gestures, and use your learning about their personalities.
All this will help transform your unwilling participant into a willing audience – Expect the degree of this transformation to be inversely proportional to the participant’s unwillingness and directly proportional your perspicacity.
2. Receive information on your Audience’s Psychographics and Entry Behavior in advance of the training program.
My experience tells me that you can learn a lot about your audience’s personality and their attitude towards the training program through some pre-training initiative. I believe that a good trainer should spend the time immediately before the training, preparing himself – not by going through the training content, but by reviewing the individual profiles of the training participants.
Sending out the audience information sheet for the participants to complete and email to me, is the most important preparation activity that I do, “before” conducting any corporate training program (of course, I expect the group’s average motivation quotient to be sitting at the nadir, in the case of corporate trainings – and so I treat them with utmost caution.) For these formats I set open-ended non-obtrusive questions that are extremely instructive and help me design/re-design the structure, and even the delivery of my programs. I will write more about setting these formats…one day! (Sigh!)
Design your program to establish help the participants map the content to their personal goals.
This is cool – but tough…and somewhat risky. You need to figure it out how it could help you connect with your participants – especially in a corporate training environment, where instead of the participant, the participant’s organization is your client! The client organization’s primary interest would be that you map all the learning outcomes (stated as well as unstated) to the organization’s goals. However, this focus on organizational goal mapping may reduce your audience’s appetite for learning even further.
Remember, as the Training Guru Robert Pike points out in his hook-them-up and reel-them-in style, the adult learner (and if you ask me – any other kind of learner as well,) is interested in What’s-in-it-for-me (or WIIFM, a term that adorns the vocabulary of every trainer under the Sun.)
I was once addressing a group of highly intelligent engineer trainers who were working with a Public Sector Organization. All my audience were between 40 and 55, with their kids all grown up, and with their lives settled on the borders of boredom. Most of my audience thought that writing for the web was a new-fangled absolutely non-serious kind of pursuit – and I needed to take them through web 2.0! So, I did what I just asked you to do. I established a personal goal for them. I started by telling them about blogging and what it could mean to individuals like them.
I spoke of its use in expressing themselves for:
- Post-retirement part-time options such as training and consulting.
- Personal satisfaction and possible growth options in terms of using their own brand-equity (developed through their blogs) for representing their organization
My extremely intelligent and smart adult audience interpreted it in their own ways – I had thrown light on the possibilities, they connected the rest of the lecture with their personal goals. Obviously, that session went through with most energy. Everyone wanted to know more – there were discussions, there was laughter, and at the end of it all, there was a satisfied audience. All in the session that had been scaring me the most.
So, to sum it up:
Make your trainings successful by:
· Addressing the Individuals in the Group
· Sketching the profiles of your participants, before the training.
· Helping participants map the content to their personal goals.
Until Tuesday then:)