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The 5 types of delegates (or do you know more?)


We have all had “hardware” failures in the classroom; whether that was the chalk breaking (CE 1974), the overhead projector bulb blowing (CE 1984), the laptop freezing (CE 2004) or all the delegate iPads batteries going flat by lunchtime (CE 2014). Since computers arrived in the training room we have also become used to “software” failures; the PowerPoint isn’t compatible or the audio won’t sync.

But what about the “wetware”? What “failures” do we have to work around with the living, breathing delegates? Delegates can be (light heartedly) categorised:

1.     The ‘Teaser’

This type of delegate is determined to have a good time on the course by deliberately trying to tease the trainer into a reaction which will take up time and possibly provide some entertainment for their fellow delegates.  One example I heard was a chap who turned up to a management training course dressed as if for a Reggae festival. Late. Carrying a MacDonald’s breakfast. He came in.  Simply said “Hello”, Sat down, put his feet up on the desk, and began munching his way through his Egg McMuffin, and slurping his coffee.

2.     The ‘Me! Sir!’

This type is as keen as mustard, answering every question before you have finished asking it.  The ‘Me! Sir!’ is always the first on his or her feet when it is time for an activity or exercise.  This should be a good thing for a trainer and up to a point it is, but it is detrimental to the other delegates; no one else gets a word in edgeways!

3.     ‘Watif’

“Watif’ is the type of delegate who thinks-outside-the-box, hence the name.  Every scenario mentioned in the room, every case study produced, every test question presented is met by a serious look and a question.  The question always begins with the words “What if....” and then some highly unlikely scenario or combination of factors is expostulated with the apparent desire to drive a coach and horses through whatever is being proposed or suggested. De Bono ‘Black Hat’ thinking it may be but it can be a little wearing for the trainer and the other trainees.

4.     The member of the ‘Wenn-eye’ Lodge

This type of delegate has lived.  He or she has been around the metaphorical block and has a massive store of relevant (and barely relevant) anecdotes that either prove or disprove any point that anyone else raises.  These anecdotes always start with “When I was at X” or “When I did Y”.  Again, like the ‘Me! Sir!’ up to a point this is great.....but, when you are already 40 minutes over schedule and the other delegates are eye-rolling, it is a nightmare.

5.     The ‘Hunter-Gatherer’

This type of delegate arrives travelling light.  The Hunter Gatherer doesn’t bring a pen, or a notebook; no, he or she expects one to be provided.  The Hunter-Gatherer also wants to know “Will the slides be available as a handout at the end?” (even when the slides don’t contain any consumer usable parts!)  Hunter Gatherers are also to be found breakfasting on the biscuits, pinching the herbal teabags and pocketing all the boiled sweets.

Thankfully these categories of delegates probably only equate to about 5% of the population of learners.  I reckon that most of the rest are simply there to learn something......unless I've missed a category – any others?

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