I like being nasty…

Actually I don’t, I’m rubbish at conflict… except, strangely, in the training room.

I’ve been coaching a bunch of trainers recently. (What is the collective name for a group of trainers? First of all I thought it would a Troupe. Then I thought it might be a Gaggle; but I’ve finally settled on a Gabble of Trainers.)

In total there are 12 training professionals in the Gabble I’m coaching, all working for the same business. As part of the coaching I’ve asked each one of them two questions:

  1. If asked your delegates what you were like as a trainer, what would they say to me?and
  2. How do you know your training course has been successful?

Bearing in mind these trainers had between 5 and 25 years experience, the answer surprised me. With some variation the answers to question 1 were all along the same lines:

  • Interactive
  • Fun
  • Engaging
  • Understanding
  • Patient

It was like listening to a talking CV.

Similarly, the answers to the second question were again almost identical:

  • Good feedback
  • Delegates had fun
  • Covered the material
  • Delegates liked me

You can call me an old cynic if you like (just not to my face) and I do recognise that if you can get these things all well and good, but I know that people learn best through challenge… fun is good to make a point but not necessarily the best to promote learning.

When I was learning how to train I got a piece of advice that will always stay with me. My boss called me into her office one day after a week long course. The feedback had been much as I described above and I was pretty pleased.

Mistake.

My boss said (and these are the exact words): ‘If all people can think to say about your training is that they had fun and you’re a nice guy, you are no use to this organisation.’

Harsh, but ultimately fair, I would say.

So now I much prefer to hear and read feedback that says ‘I really hated that course… I was so far out of my comfort zone! But I really learned a lot and I’m going to improve my results.’

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