I always think it’s strange how people (and it has to be said, mostly managers) leave their brains in the car when they come on a course.
For example, I was running a management development programme for one of our larger clients. We had taken over a whole management centre and the course was three days long. Therefore, surprise, surprise, it was… residential.
Hard to believe, I know, but there you are.
The programme itself was designed for self starting senior managers in this particular business and so I was slightly taken aback when one guy sidled up to me and said: ‘what’s the bed situation?’
I wasn’t quite sure what the guy meant so I answered with my best guess… ‘er, yes, we all have a bed each.’
‘Hmmm…’ said he. ‘And, um, where do we check in?’
I’d had enough by this time: ‘Well, on Earth we check in at reception!’
This is by no means an isolated example; just last week, on another management programme, after carefully explaining in the joining instructions that a) the location wasn’t five star and that there wasn’t a restaurant and that b) the team should aim to arrive at 6.30pm, I overheard one guy asking where the restaurant was… and this was after he arrived at 4.30pm, ready for the 5.00pm start ahead of the 6.30pm finish.
The course itself was no such thing. I was there to set a series of tasks and it was up to the group to organise themselves. Here’s a pretty representative sample of the conversation I had with the same guy:
Guy: Er… I take it there is a loose agenda
Me: Nope… unless you create one for yourselves
Guy: But you will be telling us what to do, won’t you?
Me: Nope. There are some tasks to be achieved, but how you do it is up to you
Guy: But you’ll want to do things at certain times won’t you?
Me: Nope… I have a couple of subjects I need to talk about but I can fit in with you
Guy: Oh, so what about break times and meal times. I was going to propose a break in the morning and one in the afternoon either side of lunch
Guy: Oh, so we really are in charge?
The thing is management is a professional discipline in its own right and people who get promoted to management need to work at it… in the same was as their organisation needs to help them by giving them development opportunities.
Fun and games.