Author Profile Picture

James Quinn

GRASP. Learning & Development

Learning & OD Consultant

Read more from James Quinn

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

What would be your approach to this scenario?


Hi All

I've recently been tasked with providing a learning program for a group of staff who's manager has advised can be "curt with communication, dismissive and bordering on rude."

They have very busy schedules, rotating locations and little access to a PC.

Traditionally they have had a very low uptake for training and we need to inspire them to participate and enhance their customer care.

I've been scratching my head as to the best way to roll some customer care training for them.

What do you guys think?

Many thanks


8 Responses

  1. How about some bite sized training?

    Hi James

    Quite a challenge!

    I wonder if some short (30-60 min?) bite sized sessions could be an answer?  You could ask the group to collect examples of difficult customers, awkward situations, complaints etc, as well as some great experiences naturally, and ask them to come to the sessions with the examples. (If these are telephone contacts with customers are any recorded "for training purposes"? If so they could be very valuable too.

    Then use the short session to examine just a couple, getting the group's ideas on what went well, what needs to happen for it to go better next time etc.

    I wonder if the key learning may be tone of voice, using positive language, use of open questions, WOWing the customer, getting them to think about what's in it for them to offer great customer service (fewer complaints, job security, job satisfaction etc).

    Happy to help further, just PM me.


  2. Dig a little deeper

    "curt with communication, dismissive and bordering on rude.". I wonder whether aspects of their environment / culture contribute to these behaviours. What incentives are there to encourage more useful behaviours?

    "They have very busy schedules, rotating locations and little access to a PC"

    I think I would dig a little deeper into these circumstances before designing training and then expecting transfer of learning in a potentially flawed environment.



  3. Employee engagement issues?

    I agree with 'spectrain' on this. Before considering any form of development, I would conduct a more in-depth TNA with the group's manager in order to understand the need (if it is a training need) and to understand the underlying inappropriate behaviour. There's every chance this is a cultural issue and potentially lead by the manager's behaviour. Behavioural issues are not the responsibility of L&D and perhaps HR need to be involved with the group and the manager before any training intervention is made. If the manager is leading from the front in demonstrating real care for his/her team; being open and honest; involving them; coaching them and behaving ethically, then the problem should not ordinarily exist. I'm afraid I believe this is the line manager's responsibility at least initially, not L&D and any intervention without resolving the root cause will probably not solve the problem.

  4. Good to hear

    Thanks for your ideas so far everybody.

    It's good to hear these thoughts on further TNA and especially the idea that this may be a management issue just as much as a training one. These were the same thoughts that initially occurred to me.

    Perhaps I should consider some workshops on engagement with line managers in with the bargain?



  5. “What’s in it for me?”

    Hi James,

    I think one of the key things you need to concentrate on is what's in it for them?  Firstly, if you haven't already – do a bit of homework on what their jobs are and why they are so busy.  Ensure that you plan the training so it is very lean and has no "flabby bits".  

    Acknowledge that they are very busy and make sure that you thank them for their time in advance – explain that you have made the training session(s) as lean as possible to fit into their busy schedule, then focus on how the training will make their jobs easier (or more rewarding, profitable etc. – whatever the main focus is for that group).  This may help get them on board in the first place and make them more responsive to the training.

    One other piece of advice would be not to pigeon-hole the trainees.  Yes, you have received some useful background information on your audience, however if you go into the training assuming they are going to be a tough crowd, you may just find it a self-fulfilling prophecy!  

    Do your homework, tell them how the training will positively affect their lives then keep it lean.  



  6. Management Vs Training

    I agree with the earlier comments concerning an enhanced TNA in this situation. I would also suggest finding out to what extent these individuals have been given clear, unambiguous feedback about their behaviour and its inappropriateness? If these people have not been made aware of this then they are unlikely to participate in the developmental process in any engaged way and probably thinking that none of the content actually applies to them. If they have not been given direct feedback then that is I believe the first step.
    Sending someone on a developmental program which they do not see as applying to them and then having them return to exactly the same workplace conditions and context which has allowed them to practise these inappropriate behaviours is unlikely to result in any long term or significant changes, at least in my opinion.   
    A simple question is this; do the individuals already have the knowledge and skills necessary to make the appropriate changes? I suspect the answer is yes, in which case perhaps the manager needs to be a little more directive and not expect a training and development function to cover something which is essentially his or her responsibility?
Author Profile Picture
James Quinn

Learning & OD Consultant

Read more from James Quinn

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!