Published on January 3, 2014
Great Training in 10 Simple Steps Wali Zahid 15 January 2014
Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 2
Contents About the ebook ............................................................................................................................ 5 Step 1: Think learner! .................................................................................................................... 7 Step 2: Design common-sense training .......................................................................................... 9 Step 3: Create opportunities for practice ...................................................................................... 11 Step 4: Use training room layout to increase learner interaction ...................................................... 13 Step 5: Get ready for training delivery ........................................................................................... 15 Step 6: During training delivery .................................................................................................... 17 Step 7: Manage learners well....................................................................................................... 19 Step 8: Offer positive feedback .................................................................................................... 21 Step 9: Handle disruptive learners tactfully ................................................................................... 23 Step 10: Reflect – Always ............................................................................................................ 25 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 27 Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 3
About the ebook Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 4
About the ebook Have you ever wondered why some training courses that you have attended are more effective than others? And why are some trainers able to connect with you more than others? It’s not accidental. Much of the success can be attributed to 1) the preparation by the trainer in designing the course with full attention to detail and 2) his or her handling of individuals and groups during the course. I have been conducting Asia’s longest-running Train the Trainer workshops (since my first TTT certification in 1996 in Berlin, Germany) and my job at Skill City involves spotting and inviting top trainers – in Pakistan, South Asia, Middle East and elsewhere in the world – to conduct management workshops for corporate executives. Since 2012, we have had the distinction of running the world’s first paper-free Train The Trainer course (with learning materials and clips pre-downloaded to learner iPads or laptops, or provided in souvenir USBs at the start of training course). Most of the times, I am asked for tips on making the training sessions effective, fun and memorable. Although nothing what I say here is new but some of the parts are often neglected even by the experienced trainers. In these pages, I have tried to list the very essential steps that a trainer needs to do – the kind of things that you’d do if you want to transform into a great trainer. Since 2002, several editions of this booklet have been viewed and downloaded by hundreds of thousands of learners and trainers. Enjoy reading! Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 5
Step 1: Think learner! Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 6
Step 1: Think learner! Your average learner is from what we call Generation Y (people born between 1980 and 2000). For him or her, symbols of authority – teachers, trainers, principals, bosses, parents – do not matter much. Sadly. Instead, peers influence their personal and work decisions. And their learning too! This generation is now averse to learning from their trainers. Your job: Focus on collaborative and peer learning. They are also averse to best practice, or what we call tried and tested. They prefer trial and error. Hence, focus on problem-based learning (PBL). Knowledge is available at the click of a finger. Thus knowledge is cheap! As opposed to a training course, considering the costs involved (trainer fee, logistics, learner man-hours, opportunity cost, travel, etc). Hence, do not aim to provide knowledge at trainings. Instead, provide them occasions to practice (what we call learning by doing). These learners are continually connected with the world through their smartphones and, more often than not, are sleep-deprived. They come with extremely low attention spans (say, 8 to 10 minutes) and low boredom threshold (say, 5 minutes). While at a course, they are usually engaged in parallel processing: texting/study/talking. This could be annoying to you. They are not linear learners any more. They have become more of a visual and nonlinear learner. Hence, the importance of infographics, mind maps and video content. Your task: It’s a workshop, not a lecture or a seminar. People learn by doing, or participating in discussions. Our success as a trainer depends on their active participation. Use principles of active learning which includes collaborative and cooperative learning. This also means your emphasis is on: activity-based training, and not delivering content. Think learner! Remember: Learning takes place from the learner’s perspective, not from the trainer’s. You may prepare as much as you want, but learning won’t happen unless they want to. Keep the group size to about 12 to 15 people. The whole group’s existing knowledge or skillset level doesn’t need to be the same; diversity and heterogeneity is welcome. Visualise, anticipate or find out participants’ learning needs. Ask yourself: Why should they be attending your course? Will they miss something substantive or mission-critical if they don’t? If the answer is nothing much, there’s no point in you giving this training. Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 7
Step 2: Design common-sense training Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 8
Step 2: Design common-sense training Thanks to the clutter around us (24/7–connected smartphones, internet, 1000’s of cable TV channels) average learner memory has reduced quite a bit. The 1959 research into short term memory (STM) taught us they could remember 7+/- things at one time. A research, if conducted this year, could bring this count down to 3 or 4. Divide the training course into clear structure, at most 3 or 4 parts. It will help learners in remembering what they covered. Present critical information at the beginning and recap at the end of each session, e.g. morning, after tea. Set clear learning outcomes for each session and each task. When you put them in a structure with a sequence, it aids memory. ‘Under-plan’ your content - there would always be minor or major diversions during the course and then you wouldn’t be pressured for time. One question that I receive often is: what to put in and from which source? My advice: do not use hard-copy books. They may be already five-year or more dated by the time they reach your hand. Instead, use internet: white papers, up-to-the-minute research findings, surveys, ebooks, tips, articles from the likes of McKinseys, fact sheets from the likes of CIPD, learning guides from the likes of Ashridge, Harvard Mentor. Remember: Data is changing at runtime. So anything which was correct when you last delivered this course a month ago may not be valid any more. Plan to use a variety of learning methods. Group discussions, small-group project tasks, learner presentations prove more effective than trainer talk or presentation. Same is true for mini cases (texts, or video cases) and role plays. My favourite bit has been use of video clips (from the likes of TED, HBR) or carefully-selected Hollywood movie clips. Whatever you do, make sure that variety is the essence: your learner will become bored if one type of method goes on for too long. More recently, a serious back-to-the-basics emphasis has taken momentum towards the use of storytelling as a learning method. Master it. Use it. Experiment with it. Restrict your input to a maximum of 3 or 4 pieces of new information at a time. Do not overload learners with information (nobody is going to give you a Nobel Prize for content!). Remember: they are not here for knowledge; they are here for skills practice. Course workbooks, or training manuals, should be lightweight and easy to glance through. Use bullet points rather than long texts. Manuals, if hard copy, should have space for taking notes; loose sheets are lost as soon as the course is over. I have moved most of my training courses from a paper-based offering to a paper-free delivery. And I’d encourage you to do the same. It helps save the environment, and saves learners from carrying thick binders on planes. It saves shelf space back home. If they decide to use some of the parts to cascade learning at their workplace, it’s also helpful for easy retrieval and customisation. Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 9
Step 3: Create opportunities for practice Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 10
Step 3: Create opportunities for practice When designing your materials and sessions plans, allow people opportunities for individual, pair and group work. The best advice you can get on learning by doing is from Kolb’s experiential learning theory, which starts with a ‘Do’, as opposed to ‘Know’. This is in contrast with Bloom’s Taxonomy which starts with Knowledge. So, for corporate training with Gen Y, Kolb is more useful. Individual: for reflection. Pair: for looking at pros and cons of an issue. Group: for ideas and diversity. Group work with presentation: for competition among groups and learning from each other’s thoughts and experience. Participants may have different learning preferences: visual, auditory, read/write or kinesthetic (VARK). Include activities that attract all four types of learners. It’s useful to consider the eight learner intelligences that Harvard professor Howard Gardner has provided us in his Multiple Intelligences theory. (To access this and other learning theories, google Wali’s ebook, The Theory Part with Wali.) When developing the course, ask yourself several times: how could the task be ‘spiced up’, made more interesting or fun for the participants? If short on ideas, consult a more creative colleague, or google training activities on your chosen area. Also ask yourself: how could the task be made more workplace-related, so that the participants see it as relevant to them? Bring examples from participants’ sectors. Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 11
Step 4: Use training room layout to increase learner interaction Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 12
Step 4: Use training room layout to increase learner interaction Your training does not only meet people’s learning needs; it also needs to meet their social needs. So training room layout can either help or hinder their social needs. Depending on the number of participants, use a room layout having round tables with three, four or five participants at each table, all sitting in C-shape, facing the trainer. This will encourage the group to gel and bond. This layout will also help during group work. Although there are several supporters of U-shape layout, particularly because of its logistics convenience, I am not for it. At the end of a workshop using U-shape, I find most people are still strangers to each other! Regroup people several times, based on the activity or after each break. This also helps to minimize them acquiring a group identity and then clashing with other groups. Integrate video and movie clips and infographics into your visual aids. The animated PowerPoint is a presentation medium, not a training medium. Use flip charts if you are in paper-based delivery. If paper-free, slide projector and learners’ gadgets are your best bet. Try experimenting something like Hans Rosling (I call him a data magician!) does or use RSA Animate (you draw illustrations as you speak). These are warm media as opposed to passive media of PowerPoint or a prerecorded video. Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 13
Step 5: Get ready for training delivery Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 14
Step 5: Get ready for training delivery Starting with the bang is a cliché. Start with a bang that suits your personality and help learners become conscious of the criticality of the training intervention! It’s typical in our part of the world to use loud and highenergy sounds at the beginning. Perhaps useful for speaking occasions, these are abhorrent for a training session. They don’t need to take notice of you at just the start of the course, there are many things in your repertoire that will come later – data pieces, activities, challenges, group tasks – that they will take notice! Ask participants to give you their expectations from this course. Match your delivery with those expectations. Verbalise their inputs. If you are not meeting some of those expectations because they are outside the scope of this training, say it at the beginning. Set the stage for a learning environment through establishing norms or ‘rules of engagement’ although I prefer not using the word rules. This will preempt likely problems or challenges and help in handling ‘difficult’ or challenging participants later. Use something called ‘Parking Lot’ to register housekeeping questions, concerns that cannot be addressed during Day 1 but can be taken up later. Acknowledging or validating their inputs is critical even if you disagree with them. Questions are your biggest ally, a key tool for maximising learning. So instead of providing answers, ask questions. Elicit. Chances are that participants themselves will have and can come up with answers. Remember: good teachers provide answers while great teachers ask questions. And remember what Peter Senge says: Knowledge is in the network. In the case of Gen Y, they are more interested in the process of arriving at the answer than the answer itself. Higher-order-thinking questions are necessary for learning to set in in their brains. Your learners need to raise critical questions. If they don’t, lead them to raise those questions. Encourage learners to ask questions. Question them frequently. Encourage them to challenge each other and allow them to challenge you. Creative tension and a healthy stress are good for learning. Be a let-it-loose facilitator, rather than a disciplinary trainer. Constructivist theory works best with the Gen Y. Learning does not just happen through what you say or do. This happens at coffee breaks, one-to-one trainerparticipant interaction, off-the-cuff conversations among participants, during group discussions and tasks, etc. Maximise each opportunity. Incorporate regular recap to capture learning at every session. Dress? What to wear? In earlier editions, the advice used to be: one-level up. E.g., you would wear a tie if you ask participants to dress ‘smart casual’. Then I would encourage male trainers to wear a white or a blue shirt, with black trousers and dress shoes. I would then ask female trainers to wear conservative, business colours so their dress or jewellery does not draw participants’ unnecessary attention towards them. However, this decade has lifted any bar on the dress code. Both trainers and trainees could wear what they are comfortable in. It’s particularly important that people are more concerned with the learning process than a constraining dress code. Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 15
Step 6: During training delivery Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 16
Step 6: During training delivery Learners observe your each move; you are a kind of visual medium for them. Make sure that you send the right, positive vibes. If you are a person with low self-awareness and above-average blind spots, you might send several wrong signals without you knowing it. Signs of asserting authority, personal insecurity, need to control people and situations, favouritism, unease with critical participants. The remedy is: invest in your selfawareness learning. Seek continual feedback. Attention span for any one training method or activity is no more than 8 to 12 minutes. Change your method or activity after this time. Use an energiser - a light-hearted joke - or take frequent short (one-minute) breaks. Cut on trainer talk time (TTT). When in the Train The Trainer workshop, future trainers ask me how much talk time can they have in an eight-hour training workshop, I would smilingly say: 20 minutes. And they are like: 20 minutes only in a full day? I would say yes! If you have planned careful activities, you don’t have to speak at all. Do not use jargon. It’s a deadly sin! You might dazzle them with your expertise. But at the cost of learning. Use storytelling. Tell short, relevant anecdotes; these add to your credibility. When compared to straight trainer-type advice, as John Townsend says, they also save you from being yes-butted. Occasionally, quote authorities and experts on the subject. So, it builds curiosity and those who want to find out further can read those authors. There are times when you are rushed, do not sacrifice coffee breaks (a lot of learning happens there). Rather, leave some content uncovered. Gesture naturally and clearly. Exaggerate hand and body movements if the group is large. Stand straight (Actually that too is past! Stand whatever way you want. Slanted, Sitting on the desk. As long as it adds to learning process and doesn’t distract from task.) Walk around the room in a measured pace. Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 17
Step 7: Manage learners well Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 18
Step 7: Manage learners well It’s not your course; it’s his and hers. Get out of initial nervousness quickly. Throw the monkey. Start with a mingle activity. Make it their course as soon as you begin. Then you can concentrate on delivery. Make eye contact with everyone, but no more than a second at a time. Sync your eye contact with the response you want from a particular individual or group of people, i.e. when raising a question, look at the shy individual you want to answer, but without pinpointing or naming him or her. Be aware of your blind spots (mine is the participant sitting on extreme left). Reach out to quiet or shy participants during breaks or before the sessions. Use learners’ names. This makes it personal. Do not embarrass learners. Do not put anyone on spot, particularly those disruptive, know-it-all types. And do not ridicule any learner (sometimes we unknowingly do). You can regroup participants several times during the workshop. When you do, do it randomly. People resent carefully-chosen regrouping and try to find ‘meaning’ and the potential trainer agenda in that. Use constructivism. Offer a lot of praise by picking what participants are doing right. Hold on to the negative criticism. We need energy to change and when we are criticised, it’s a drain on our energy and it stops us from improving. Train your eye to see good in every step of the learning process. Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 19
Step 8: Offer positive feedback Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 20
Step 8: Offer positive feedback When giving feedback in the plenary, keep it positive, simple and specific. Use future sentence. E.g., when I do this next time, this is how I can do it differently. You can’t change the past, but you can influence the future. In constructive feedback, use the sandwich approach. Positive-negative-positive. Start with what they have done well. Next, state how they could do differently next time. Then, close on a positive note. Leave the negative feedback to one-on-one or in small groups. My experience: leave it out! They will figure out themselves. Or use peer feedback. Or just use a plain question like: how would you do it differently next time? When handling routine interruptions, be flexible. Manuals and course structures are not sacred; learners are! Let the process take care of difficulties. In an average two-hour session, routinely leave 10/15 minutes’ for detours. Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 21
Step 9: Handle disruptive learners tactfully Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 22
Step 9: Handle disruptive learners tactfully Advice from my favourite John Townsend: When the challenging or ‘difficult’ participants interject, do not reply; do not take the bait. Pause, rephrase their interjection showing to the person you have understood their viewpoint. Then refer back to the group. Townsend calls this as Reflect-Deflect Approach. Remember: Peer pressure is more powerful than the trainer pressure. Make it your second nature not to respond directly to these challengers. When handling conflict situations among participants, allow them to air their point of views. Intervene only after they have vented their initial steam. Do not fear losing control. Also, do not offer an opinion unless it’s a clear-cut black & white situation. Ask others what they think of the issue. Because it’s not your course, it’s theirs. When things go wrong, use humour. Self-directed humour. This could be your best ally and lifesaver. Humour defuses the situation without making you or them lose face. Against popular perception, it will also help you from losing control of the situation. Finally, be fair and respectful to all, particularly to genders. No favourites! Be sensitive to their ‘sensitivities’. Close all interactions including the course on a definite, positive note. Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 23
Step 10: Reflect – Always Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 24
Step 10: Reflect – Always After the course is over, reflect on what you have achieved. Always. Consider the areas you need to work on for your next course – the whole course, the parts, the content, the methods, the delivery, the learner engagement, etc. You may ask a trusted colleague to sit on your next course as an observer. Often, someone else’s feedback can give us quantum leaps in improvement. If you want to excel, reflection and continual improvement is the way forward. Malcolm Gladwell is popularising the 10,000-hour-practice threshold to achieve excellence. Mine will not be any less! Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 25
Conclusion Ernst & Young Great Training in 10 Simple Steps by Wali Zahid 26
Conclusion If you follow these tips, in 10 steps you will be on your way to be a great and an effective trainer. Your trainings would then be more fun and memorable. Who knows, one day you will be writing a few training tips for the next generation of trainers! Wali is an international consultant, speaker, leadership trainer and executive coach. He is CEO of Skill City [Asian answers ... to Asian questions], a new-generation learning firm with a developing-country perspective. He has spoken to audiences in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle East, East Africa, Western Europe, England and the United States. An Asian authority on workplace learning, Wali has been leading on one of Asia’s longest-running Train the Trainer public workshops with the people on the waitlist for several months, sometimes a year. Anyone who is someone in the learning or training industry in Pakistan may have been to Wali’s TTT workshop. He is on the Board of Governors of Pakistan Society for Training and Development and has been a member of CIPD (Chartered Institute for Personnel & Development) UK. Also by Wali Zahid (google these): The Theory Part with Wali – Learning about Learning (ebook & PPt) Train The Trainer workbook (manual & PPt) Value-Based Trainer (PPt) Learner Readiness and Wali’s Will-Skill Matrix Learning Preferences of Generation Y The Future of HR Future-Ready Learning & Leadership Wali can be reached at skillcity.co and facebook.com/skillcity twitter.com/walizahid linkedin.com/in/waliz plus.google.com/+WaliZahid
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