I often wonder about training and the best way of delivering it.
Who are the best trainers?
Of course, in training there is often the need to deliver stuff; to explain things to help people understand. But, in my book, those occasions should be pretty few and far between.
For me, the best type of trainer is one who asks questions… hundreds of them, whenever they can. Questions should be the lifeblood of any trainer and the more questions a trainer has in them, the better they are at their job.
Why is this? You see, there’s a question!
I think there are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the trainer doesn’t know everything, so questioning is one way to find out the answer. (Here’s a training tip for you: if someone asks a question in an open session and the trainer says ‘that’s a really good question… what does the group think?’ The chances are he doesn’t know the answer and is giving himself time to think. That’s what I do, anyway!)
But secondly and, I think, more importantly, we all listen to ourselves and our colleagues much more than we do trainers. And, strangely, a group nearly always has the answer somewhere in their midst.
One of the best trainers I know is a very close friend. We were running an experiential course for a team of senior guys who are based all over Europe. It involved a fair bit of clue solving, head scratching and a bit of getting wet and muddy, too.
To be honest, the team just wasn’t getting it and. Suddenly, the most senior guy, a silver haired, very distinguished looking Finn, turned to my friend and said in a demanding voice (here you can add the Finnish accent if you like): ‘We’re not getting it, so the consultant must tell us!’
My friend simply fixed the Finn with a steely gaze and said: ‘Really? Why?’
‘Because we’re not proceeding!’
Another delegate piped up (French, as I recall, if you want to do the accent): ‘But if he tells us, we’ll never know what to do… except to do as we’re told!’
The group stopped what they were doing, had a meeting, refocused their ideas and actually completed the exercise very well.
They had a fantastic learning experience and all my friend did was ask one question.