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Trainer’s Diary: A Trust Exercise


Byron KaliesByron Kalies reflects on the sometimes fraught and distrustful relationship between trainer and manager.

Having been discussing schedules this week it seems appropriate to look at relationships with training managers. These seem to revolve around a few areas. Number one flashpoint is preparation.

Preparation time must be the area that causes more grief between trainers and their mangers than anything else. It seems to me to be a great indicator of how much trust exists between the pair.
How much time do you need to prepare? The only answer of course is ‘it depends’. There will be specific training courses, or certain times in your development, when you will need a great deal of time and support to get up to speed. Other times it will be enough to have a ‘look through’ on the train in.

The difficulty with this is that it’s difficult to say exactly what it depends on. There have been training courses I’ve run many, many times that I still need to spend a good half day getting my head together for it.

As a training manager seeing gaps on the schedule must be annoying: “But you’re not doing anything on Wednesday.” I hear them think as they ask why you can’t run three equal opportunities courses back to back.

It’s a similar discussion on co-presenting. “Why do you need two trainers? There’s only one of you talking at a time.” You can launch into a discussion about the course being intense and the other trainer needing to listen and pick up on the feelings, thoughts in the group. Or you can talk about the stress of running a three-day course for senior managers on your own. You could even try to illustrate it with examples of the other trainer picking up an off-the-cuff remark “that’s not what happened in my area” and exploring this for a while. You try to explain the quality issues. Unfortunately it’s so difficult to quantify. The more you’re asked to justify the more defensive you tend to get and less likely to explain properly.

No wonder many training managers feel it would be easier to get secrets out of the magic circle than get a trainer to explain what they do between training courses.

These discussions however need to be had and need to be as non-defensive as possible. This is difficult. It’s tempting to make it seem like a cartoon situation where the training manager sees the trainers as trying to get away with doing as little training as possible and the trainers to see training managers as ogres with only one thought – bums on seats. It’s not really as simple as that.

For me it’s about trust and expertise. If you had a qualified plumber around you wouldn’t cross examine them about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, etc.. Yet it does seem fair game to do this with trainers. One approach that has worked is to take the training manager with you for a week. Let them enjoy the delights of trying to find keys for locked rooms, dealing with projectors that don’t work, moving a room full of tables while attendees are walking in. All those irritating little things that never happen on their own.

I guess the thinking around preparation is the same. Unless people know what we do it’s natural they will be suspicious and possibly distrustful. We all know what we need to do – open, honest communication. It’s not really difficult is it?

One Response

  1. Trust – a marvellous thing
    I’m currently ‘acting’ the managers post at the moment and, even though I’ve been in the shoes of the trainer very recently, I still find myself doubting ‘prep’ time. You really do have to trust your team and I’m lucky that I do but I can see how managers fall foul of this one. McGregors X Y theory is a good one to look at here…I wonder which side of that arguement managers tend to sit on?

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