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Adrian Pitt

Develop-meant Training Consultants


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Stop messing with your mobile!


Hi all,

I had a Manager who believed that delegates should leave their phones/email alone when they were on training. This was THEIR protected time for their development, without distractions. This must have sunk in with 'yours truly' as my phone is off and I don't look at it during breaks whenever I attend a course. I make staff and clients aware that I'm away, what I'm doing, "out of office" etc.

A colleague and I delivered a session this week. During a break, a delegate got her laptop out, tuned into our Wi-Fi and started working, answering emails etc. When break was over and the next activity started, she was STILL on her machine in the background! Downright rude! It called for one of us to be assertive and ask her to re-join the group.

Are mobiles a menace?!


7 Responses

  1. It’s a difficult one – as on
    It’s a difficult one – as on the one hand I do thing it’s both impolite and distracting to be on your mobile/laptop during a training session/meeting, however more people are using them for note taking these days; I know that I tend to bring my laptop in for particular lengthy meetings so that I don’t have to transfer pages of notes to my Google Drive later for sharing/annotating.
    There’s also the perceived pressure of not wanting to be incommunicado, especially during work.
    What did the delegate say when she was asked to re-join the group?

  2. I think it’s one of those
    I think it’s one of those areas that needs to be agreed as part of the ‘ground rules’ at the start of the training event. It can appear disrespectful to both the trainer and other delegates if one person is consistently using a mobile, tablet or laptop. The level of ‘buy-in to this may of course depend on the nature and composition of the group: some people may be ‘on call’ or similar. Establishing beforehand whether anyone needs to use a mobile device to take notes (maybe notes are going to be made available to delegates in some format anyway) and asking delegates to leave the room to take calls only if absolutely necessary are techniques that I have had to employ.

    1. Great points – thanks!
      Great points – thanks!

      The lady in question KNEW she was in the wrong. She kept turning back around to us and apologising. I thought: “One more minute and I’m coming to get ya!” Fortunately, she closed her machine down in the nick of time!

  3. I tried for years to get
    I tried for years to get people to turn off their mobiles and it didn’t work. Now I make an announcement at the beginning of a course that when I was a little boy, my mother would say “Don’t talk to me when I am on the phone – it’s rude!” and then I tell the group that they are entitled to text and make as many calls as they wish, but that I will stop the course when their phone emerges out of due deference to them, because it would be rude for me to talk whilst they are using the phone.

    The moment a phone appears, I simply stop, mid-sentene. Everyone is bewildered at first, then looks around and tells whoever is using their phone to put it away. It rarely happens a second time.

    I have done this when running conferences for several hundred people. It works a treat!



  4. Interestingly, I do think it
    Interestingly, I do think it’s unrealistic for people not to be allowed to use the phone in this digitally connected age. On the odd occasions I do deliver now, I simply ask people (at the start of the day) to leave the room if they need or want to use it. This ensures they don’t disturb others.

  5. Interestingly, I’ve always
    Interestingly, I’ve always taken the traditional approach of “phones off” but I recently worked with a client in the tech industry (a very big, well known group) and my experience had made me re-think. I was warned off by the training manager that the culture there was such that connectivity was relentless and don’t be offended if anyone takes a call, checks their phone, checks emails etc. He did say I could push back, but in all honestly, it’d be pointless, that’s “just how it is”. Naturally I did set some norms at the beginning, but sure enough, lots of distractions, people turning up late and so on. However, at the end of the session, I had a number of people stay back to talk to me and say how much they’d got from the training and how they were looking forward to using the skills learned. And from they way they spoke, it was clear they HAD understood it. I know wonder if this is just how Millennials learn and us ‘fogies’ need to understand that better. Certainly made me think anyway.

  6. You make some great points
    You make some great points Jane, really interesting post. I totally agree that facilitators or L & D people have to move with the times rather than expect the learner to adopt our ways.
    I learned this quite a few years ago now when working for a charity which was new to me having come from the corporate world. I had a group of people from a community group and my belief was learners should face the front, turn their phone off, pay attention etc. Well, in the community group, they were serving lunches which people just got up and got and ate in the workshop (without asking), the community group chairman answered his phone and was having a very heated conversation while the workshop was happening. I was quite angry about it and asked my chairman if I was empowered to put my foot down and he said no, I had to adjust to them or we would get no business. Big lesson learned for me so I agree that L& D people should be adjusting.

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