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Garry Platt


Senior Consultant

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A Salutory Lesson and Reminder


I had interesting experience last week, in a very noisy and busy factory. It was the first training event of the year and was Part 2 of a programme that had commenced just before Christmas. The developmental event was aimed at team leaders and section managers who were being asked to undertake One to One instruction under a rigid and disciplined quality assurance system. The programme was divided into two parts: Part 1 was a single day event, mostly input and activity driven were the learners were introduced to the process of training an individual to do a job. It covered everything from simple needs analysis, design of learning and delivery techniques, finishing with the simplest but best evaluation strategy; is the individual now undertaking the job to the required level when previously they were not?

The second event was to be undertaken out in the factory where they put theory into practise and were observed and given feedback while they trained and developed someone in a area where they had designed the learning experience.

Day 1 found me in the ‘war room’ a place set aside for groups of workers to come together and problem solve production issues and challenges. There were nine people present. One individual (let’s call him Dave) was particularly antagonistic whilst not excessively disruptive he clearly established his belligerence and generally negative attitude towards the training event. At the time it was mildly irritating, but I didn’t take it personally. How could it be personal? Dave had never met me, didn’t know me, so any problems he had were not directly about me, but perhaps I was a handy target? The group had collectively undergone very little in way of formal training and development. And for the greater part their development had been on the job.

The second day was run approximately 4 weeks later. In the interim period the learners had identified a suitable piece of work that they would instruct some one else in which would last approximately 30 minutes. From my perspective it was a great day, the instruction they undertook was top class with great levels of competence, patience and application of theory into practise. But what was also particularly interesting was the performance of Dave. Gone was the antagonistic and belligerent person and instead was this incredibly patient, informed and superb instructor. It was like someone new had appeared inside Dave’s body. During the structured feedback session I congratulated him on the excellence of his training and we got around to discussing his feeling about the entire process. Dave admitted that he had been very uncomfortable on the initial event. It was his first class based learning experience since school which had been ‘unsuccessful, a disaster in fact’, and he had approached the whole thing with trepidation and real anxiety, hence no doubt his behaviour and approach. He was apologetic and from an unpromising start had enjoyed the latter ‘real training’ experience.

I’ve been doing this job for more than 25 years and this was a salutary lesson about my own complacency and taking things for granted. A classroom for me is (or should be) an exciting place where we can learn, enjoy and progress. For others it is a torture chamber filled with bad memories and experiences. Chalk and cheese.

4 Responses

  1. lesson learnt


    Really enjoyed this article-it’s always really interesting to get such real feedback and, as you say, the trainer and trainee’s perspective of the same event can be at completely different ends of the spectrum.

  2. Salutary lesson…

    thanks Gary for sharing this experience! I may have been in similar settings and will henceforth think about the effect of the "classroom".

    Regards Edith Kürzinger, Königswinter, Germany

  3. It just proves how lucky we are doing the job we do

    Hi Gary

    Really intersting story. You go in their wanting to do your best and come across a disruptive individual. It’s the old iceberg thing the 10% you saw was above the waterline but what was driving it was the 90% below. For someone to be not looking forward to the day and for it to come out as it did there must been some real anxiety.

    It does all rather bring you back to reality, but equally how rewarding it must have been for you  to see the different behaviour in another environment. We’re all lucky that we are in the position where we can help people and bring the best out of them. That’s what I love about the job.

    John Dell’Armi



  4. Winning over your delegates

    This reminds me of a three day business writing course I once gave, where for the first half day, I felt more like a barrister than a trainer, spending most of my time trying to convince delegates of the problems of using business jargon. They were all very resistant to the idea that this was not the most effective way to communicate.

    It was only when I asked them to translate a document written in business jargon into plain English that they finally got the point. None of them could agree on what the document was saying, and gradually I could see a dawning awareness that perhaps this was not the most effective way to communicate!


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Garry Platt

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