A few weeks ago we went to the US of A to deliver a course designed to help trainers be better at their job.
Before we went I called each of the participants to see how they did things right now.
When I asked them how they knew whether a course had been good (or not) their answers were almost exactly the same: if the delegates say they’ve had fun and that they liked the trainer (i.e.: them).
So, over we went, full of trepidation because we probably not going to do either of those things.
And so it proved.
At the outset, when we asked what they wanted to get from the programme and they hadn’t thought about it we didn’t let them off the hook; no matter how uncomfortable they or we felt we kept going until they were clear what success looked like.
And they fought back; they didn’t like it.
As the programme progressed we put the attendees into difficult training situations and filmed the way they dealt with it. We then watched the videos back and gave them direct feedback both positive and areas they could improve.
At the end of the course the group was pretty tired. We’d worked long days, had held up a mirror and made the participants look in it and evaluate.
Immediate reactions of the group reflected the challenge they had faced: ‘it was hard…’ ‘Need to evaluate what I’ve learned…’ And that sort of thing.
Were they better at their jobs? Definitely. But would they admit it?
It was with some trepidation that we went to see out customer on Friday. We have another course scheduled, but the level of challenge we create is pretty unprecedented in the states.
We needn’t have worried. After a month, the participants have looked back and seen the value of creating challenge in the training room. They’ve seen how challenge, forcing someone to say ‘I could do that better’ and then giving them the chance to put it into practice, can help people be better at what they do.
And not one of them had to like us or have fun to do it!