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Owen Smith

Burberry Ltd

Service & Productivity Manager - Emerging Markets

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Trainers’ pet hates


Best of 09 WinnerI was helping to facilitate an event yesterday, and encountered one of my biggest pet hates:- FLIPCHARTS THAT DON'T TEAR OFF PROPERLY AT THE PERFORATIONS!!! Now please don't tell me I'm the only one who has issues with this, it can't just be my 'tearing' technique can it? When you've poured a lot of love, attention and (ahem) artistic genius into creating beautiful flips, it breaks my heart when they end up all shabby with one ragged edge that looks like the aftermath of a shark attack. I mean, how difficult can it be to design paper that tears properly? It got me thinking about crap design the world over - those awful metal teapots that burn your hand and NEVER pour properly; toilet roll dispensers that don't dispense more than half a square of paper before it tears off; showers that are freezing cold or scaldingly hot unless you get the mixer tap within the 1 micromilimetre zone that is 'just right' (until someone else turns on the kitchen tap downstairs...). The list goes on. So I thought I'd ask the question - what are your pet hates as a trainer? Post your replies below, and if we get enough people shouting about it, perhaps we could make a difference!

20 Responses

  1. And another thing…
    As soon as I posted this I thought of another thing…

    So-called flip-chart markers that don’t write for long enough until they dry out, meaning you have to end up using permanent markers and have blue fingertips for a week.

    Right, enough Victor Meldrew from me, over to you lot!

  2. My Pet Hate as a Trainer

    Hi Owen,

    Thanks for the invite to comment on trainer pet hates. Could not resist a response.

    When I am facilitating an in-company program and the client is using a hotel group as a training venue I always seem to be allocated a bedroom that is  miles away from the training venue. This may be OK as a delegate but as a trainer this is so inconvenient when lugging around manuals, handouts, marker pens, blue tack, laptops and all the paraphenalia we trainers carry to make sure the day goes smoothly.

    The last two events were in Marriotts and I was exhausted before the event started simply because of all the logistics of getting from car to bedroom to training room. Thank goodness I have a wheeled trolley to help. When I asked if I could be moved nearer the allocated training room the reply was "sorry all rooms near there are occupied". One of the hotels in question had conf facilities on the second floor and no lift!

    On a positive note it did mean the gym facilities were redundant even though I must say they looked inviting.



  3. Pet hates

    People crying off at the last moment for no apprant reason despite having been given weeks of notice beforehand

  4. Trainer’s pet hates

     Great topic to let off a bit of steam!!

    Here are a few of mine:

    Training rooms with no windows/natural light I once trained in a Casino in South Africa in a room with no windows … I was booked to deliver a variety of training courses in this venue for over 4 weeks.  I emerged at the end feeling like a mole!

    Another pet hate is having technical equipment set up in a venue by someone who never uses Powerpoint, flip charts etc so that everything is in the wrong place and a great favourite …. flipchart pens put next to the white board!

    Just as well we all love doing what we do!



  5. Pet Hates
    My pet hates are:

    Training rooms designed without consulting trainers – inevitably screens and useable wall space are in the wrong places and there is insuffiecient room to set the room out as I like it.

    People who moan about the lunches provided for them – usually about the “lack of variety” when I know most of them have pretty well the same sandwich each day when they have to rpovide it for themselves.

  6. pet hates – fruit and other things …

    why is it that hotels that promise "a bowl of fresh fruit" in the room or at breaks NEVER provide this?? Grotty pens that don’t work, delegates that mumble to their mates throughout – or play with their Blackberry under the desk thinking you won’t notice, aircon units that make a sufficient level of "white noise" so that your voice strains to be overheard over it (and it never cools the room sufficiently anyway) … sigh … that feels much better now, so back to work! (PS but all of this is overshadowed by the buzz of delegates and the adrenalin (and ego) high when everyone is engaged and leaves fired up to implement what they have learnt – yes, I do love this job!)<!–break–>


  7. Where do I begin?!

    One of my favourites is the "It’s too hot/ cold" from participants. Yes, it is really difficult (no, imossible!) to get a room temperature to the right level for everyone, but so often the "too cold" complaint seems to come from someone who is wearing thin clothing and doesn’t seem tio understand the basic link of more/ warmer clothes = greater warmth! Having said that, I generally have my participants/ learners moving round a lot so cold isn’t an issue…..

    A great one I heard from a collegue the other day was of a participant’s feedback form which complained that they felt sleepy by lunchtime because they had to get up at 7 o’clock to travel to the venue when they normally only get out of bed at 8.30! Presumably this means they normally drop off to sleep at work at about 3ish…….?

    However, one that really bugs me is that of trainers labelling post lunch as "the graveyard slot" and complaining that people seem to snooze off. It sounds to me as though their view of training is simply to present material, taking no responsibility for helping people manage their states by selecting the right methods, getting them moving, modelling behaviour and changing things around if needs be. Surely this is a critical part of what we contract to provide with learners? Use of phrases like "Well, it’s the graveyard/ after lunch slot now so I’m going to………." provide a superb hypnotic suggestion for the training group and yet I’ve heard variations of this so many times. 

    Yes, there are some things like dodgy flipcharts and self willed technology which can be partly outside our control, but I do believe we need to take responsibility for the things that should make us trainers rather than ‘powerpoint slide readers’. (Whoops, that’s another one that bugs me from ‘trainers’…………)        


  8. Grrrrr
    Pippa, I have to agree about people that have conversations with their friends and expect you not to notice. It’s just rude!

    Late arrivals annoy me especially if they don’t bother to apologise.

    Weirdly, I recently had a delegate that needed the toilet on average 3/4 times per hour which was quite disruptive….

  9. Pet Annoyances

    Hotel meeting rooms – to hot, too cold, too light, too dark, noisey. the only savings grace are the great hotel staff (90% of the time) who do their best to help out.

    but when it really comes down to it, it’s my inability to acccepty what is & deal with it.
    Cause when i do, is really no problem.

    drjim sellner, PhD., DipC.

  10. Nodding Dog!

    Hi All

    One of my Pet Peeves is when you asking your testing question or checking for understanding EG: Does everyone understand that?. They all nod their heads (Akin to those "nodding" dog dolls on the back shelf or a car.

    5 mins later you ask another question and no-one has a clue!. grrr Ban the "nodding" dog


  11. A recent one for me

    Turning up to a venue, when I’ve had to travel six hours the night before to get there, to find that only 4 of 8 people are there on time, that two will be joining that afternoon, and the others on day 2.

    Please…if you can’t commit to the full two days of training, then don’t book onto the course.

  12. Pet hates

    -what a great post. 

    I didn’t realise I had any pet hates till I read this and all the comments.  I, too, cannot tear flipcharts and I cannot write straight on them.   I cannot write without covering my hands and consequently my face with flipchart pen inks.  I cannot bear powerpoint or relying on laptops.   I worry about all the trees that were cut down for all my handouts which usually get left behind.  I love preparing the training room and making it welcoming but so hate clearing up after a session.  My goodness  I think am a grumpy old trainer

    Charlotte Mannion

  13. (not so) Smart Boards
    Thanks for the opportunity to express my grumpy old man views! Slightly misaligned Smart Boards drive me mad – you tap the board and the window maximises/minimises/disappears/links to another page…aaaaargh!!! You end up using a mouse and looking over your shoulder at the board – a literal pain in the neck! Projectors are mounted on ceilings normally adourned with messages saying ‘do not touch the controls’ – I usually feel like throwing something heavy in their general direction. Whew…I feel better now!

  14. Trainers’ pet hates

    Definitely all of the ones listed. But, what really gets my goat is having even only one participant who is simply not on the same page as any of the others, and who is a drag on discussion, group work and anything which presupposes a relative homogenity in the group.   The worst case is that such people become disaffected and demanding, and potentially destablizing of group harmony.   The next worst case is that they plod along and become an object of group and trainer charity.  Often, such a mismatch of individual and group comes back to the way the course was sold (or missold), or a maneger or HR person somewhere has decided to get the individual off their back by sending them on a training course, however inappropriate it may be. 

  15. Pet hates
    Cool post!

    1. Delegates who not only show up twenty minutes late, but then proceed to blame you for moving the venue/date/time etc.

    2. Accidentally using permanent marker on a whiteboard (industrial toilet cleaner and a lot of elbow grease helps)

    3. Projector bulbs designed to expire at the most crucial moment in your entire training career

    4. People who vandalise flipcharts by breaking the pins at the top (presumably they couldn’t figure out how to replace the flipchart pad, but c’mon – it’s not the most techical bit of equipment you have to contend with…)

    5. “Sorry, the room appears to be double-booked…”

  16. Trainers pet hates

    Where do I begin??

    Delegates who don’t turn up or send a totally underqualified/unsuitable "representative" in their place

    Having to use someone else’s lap top

    Flip chart holders that fall down/over or won’t clamp the flip chart

    Cheap flip paper that marker pens leak through onto the following page

    The Joker in the pack

    Members of the "management team" who sit at the back of the room taking notes and scowling.

    Delegates who text or take calls during the course!!!!!

  17. More hates

    Turning up at a venue where someone has used permanent marker on the whiteboard and has decided to GLOSS PAINT over the board instead of getting the pen off. It’s not difficult. Take a whiteboard marker, rub it over the permanent pen, and wipe off. It’s magic.

    Venues where the whiteboard hasn’t been cleaned.

    Turning up to a venue and seeing the same lipstick-marked glass that was there the week previously, and the one before that…

  18. Why are we here….
    This is my biggest pet hate at the moment: managers who send individuals on courses without a) telling them they are going on it and b) not telling them why they have been put on it!

    I am running a leadership course next week and phoned the delegates this week to see if they have any questions etc. When I asked them “so why are you coming on this course” expecting answers along the lines of personal or career development, I get responses like “I don’t know, my manager told me to go on it” or “I saw it on my roster”.

    What happened to people talking to each other!!

  19. Tearing Flip Chart paper…

    …..I use Sticky Pad Flip Chart paper – it’s like a big post-it pad that tears off beautifully AND you can just stick it to walls, no need for blu-tack, white-tack or anything that requires you to have eight arms……

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Owen Smith

Service & Productivity Manager - Emerging Markets

Read more from Owen Smith

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