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To the trainer of the year 2009

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2009Garry Platt draws on his years of experience to provide some tips to those members of the training community that have just joined us in 2009 - but don't take them all seriously!







To the new trainers and developers of the year 2009 there are some immutable truths with which you should be acquainted. These truths are derived from my experience, which of course is not universal and leaves much to be desired. But they are nevertheless a reflection of what I think and believe.

The serious

Photo of Garry Platt"Be tolerant of learners' mistakes - errors and faults have a purpose, they help people to learn."

1. Preparation is the one universal - the more you prepare the better you will be. Preparation in the development of human being is never wasted.

2. Never forget to thank your learners for their effort and participation. They have allowed you to share their journey. The destination is not always clear, but it is always exciting.

3. Laughter is a strong learning aid, except when it's at a participant's expense.

4. Be humble when someone learns a new skill or competence. No matter what you did, it was after all their achievement.

5. Be tolerant of learners' mistakes - errors and faults have a purpose, they help people to learn.

6. Be intolerant of your own mistakes as a developer, they can stop people learning.

7. Recognise that training that is not based on an identification of need is a hobby rather than a job.

8. Try to do something new on every programme you run.

9. When you ask for feedback on your performance as a developer, mean it and listen.

10. Despite checking, rechecking and treble checking there will always be one spelling mistake in your slides, handouts or visual aids. Resign your self to this - but don’t use it as an excuse for not checking.

11. All candidates on all programmes will always tell you that it is their line managers who 'should be on this course' - and they're probably right.

The not so serious

12. Be resigned to the fact that every whiteboard you use in every hotel or conference centre will have been written on with indelible ink; the topic is usually some aspect of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

13. The flip chart stand you will be given will always have a complete pad of paper. Unfortunately these will have had every square inch (both sides) covered in tight algebraic equations explaining statistical process control and inevitably, Maslow's hierarchy of need.

14. Two different remote control units will operate the VCR and TV. One of these will be missing or broken. The other will be more complicated than the deck of a space shuttle. Learn to live with your inadequacies.

15. One member of every group you train will have seen it, heard it, done it all before, and none of it will have worked then, now or at any time in the future, particularly if the topic is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

16. Asking a colleague if there is anything you should know about the group you are about to train is like asking if there is life after death. I guarantee you will find out the answers but in both cases it will be too late to do anything with the information.

17. You turn around and realise you have put the wrong PowerPoint slides of Maslow's hierarchy of needs on your laptop. Trying to cover this error by taking your trousers off and thus distracting your audience will just not work; own up to the mistake.

18. Never turn your back on a course participant who carries a machete or cattle prod - these people often cause problems.

19. Never work with colleagues who wear Karate suits to run 'Microsoft Excel' courses. This is a clear sign of trouble ahead.

20. Beating senseless a course participant in view or earshot of their colleagues can cause your learners to become distracted.

21. Not everyone is as clever as you are. For instance, half the people you train will have poor numerical skills, the other half will be average and the third half will be excellent. Be tolerant of those who do not reach your standards.

22. Never tell course participants you are unhappy. Half of them don't care and the other half will be glad.

23. The fact that someone disagrees with your views during a training session is no reason to challenge them to an arm-wrestling session, except of course if you are 200lb heavier, in which case go for it.

24. There is never a good time to tell participants on a course that the water cooler in the room has been tested positive for anthrax virus, except if it’s just before your session on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, in which case it will come as a merciful release.

25. If someone complains of suffering from cognitive dissonance and emotional cathartic turmoil during your session on double entry book keeping, offering to let them sniff your marker pens will not help. On the other hand you personally may find it useful.

26. For God's sake spice up that session on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, show some humanity.

27. Take all the above with a pinch of salt, except for the first one concerning preparation - believe me, that one's true.

Garry Platt is a senior consultant at Woodland Grange specialising in management development and trainer training. He can be contacted on 01926 336621 or e mail:
[email protected]

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