Please don’t tell me you’re open minded!

I was running an HR training course last week.

You know the sort of thing… the delegates were sent by their manager, not because they had any real interest in the subject being covered but because they needed to be fixed.

Something was wrong with them and it was up to the poor old trainer (me) to put it right.

In this case the recipients of my many, many years of wisdom were first line managers who had responsibility for recruiting their own team members and, as there had been a couple of dodgy recruitment decisions and a couple of even dodgier tribunals, senior managers decided that a couple of grand investment was worth it…

Not a view shared by the delegates on the course.

When I went round the group asking what they wanted from the course I got as bunch of folded arms, lowered brows and the words: ‘I’m open minded… I just want to learn.’

I almost laughed; it was so obviously not the case!

Of course, as I got into the course it became patently obvious why there was an issue with recruitment.  The course delegates were overwhelmingly white males between the ages of 25 and 45.  Guess what sort of people they were recruiting… other white males between the ages of 25 and 45.

‘Yeah, but, it’s our business… we can recruit who we want!’

Clearly ‘open minded’ meant something different in the language that was being spoken to me.

However, I had a mini break through when I was running through the skills practice.  That’s where I video each of the delegates conducting an interview.

One of the few women on the course was being interviewed by one of the gorillas.

It came to a point when the interviewee had to refer back to home life and was told ‘Of course you can go and ask your husband’s permission…’

To which she replied:

‘I haven’t got a husband.  He died three years ago.’

I’ve never seen someone try to reverse out of an interview as fast as the guy who was being filmed.

Nor have I, come to think about it, seen anyone go quite that shade of red… or veins stand out quite so far on their neck.

As I said, very funny.

More importantly, though, I actually think at least one mind truly did get opened on that course, for which I am grateful.

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