Tuesday, June 28th, 2022 22:27:19

Every Second Counts !

By Sanjeev Chopra
Updated: October 18, 2021 10:53 am

Every second counts ! One  realizes  this the  minute when one flips through the pages of this  extremely nuanced, eminently  readable and well -illustrated book on the entire gamut of training  In each of the twenty one  chapters of this book, interspersed with cartoons, anecdotes, illustrations ,  charts ,graphs, diagrams, he  covers one aspect of training in his unique and inimitable style.

Getting the ‘right  trainee’ and placing her  in the right ‘slot’ is perhaps the biggest challenge  for a training professional. Both in the government and the corporate sector, nominations are often made for reasons other than  the requirement of training . While  it is best for a training institution to specify the profile of the trainee for each specific course, one may be saddled with the   ‘reluctant, spareable, passenger,  tourist , know -all, (knowledge -proof ) types’ , but a good trainer is one who can engage the ‘critical mass’ and change  attitudes  because the training environment is  certainly in the control of the trainer.

In the chapter on Performance Issues , he explains  concepts like Goal Visibility, Performance Gap Assessment, the EMB (Environmental, Motivational and Behavioral ) triad , as well as  role of  key factors of Attitude , Skills and Knowledge in getting  optimal results. Organizations which invest in people  get far superior results, and he cites the example of Konosuke Matsushita , the legendary founder of Panasonic  who said ‘ we make people, and also some electronic goods’.

‘If you believe that training is expensive, it is because you do not know  what ignorance  costs.’ With this opening statement from Michael Leboeu , he asks : how can we bring life  to the ‘ritual’ of training, how can we identify needs , how can we move up the competency ladder from ‘unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence’. He then talks about  the ‘ why, what, when, where and how’ of training , and suggests that without a comprehensive TNA the results are likely to be sub-optimal, and give a bad name to the trainer and his institution

He then moves  on to  andragogy ( adult learning) and how it differs  from pedagogy. Adults learn only when they feel they need to learn. The context becomes more important  than the content, and once they understand how it is good for them, the rest is cake-walk . In the sixth talks about the  learning styles of  participants- they could be Activists, Reflectors, Theorists or  Pragmatists- the only thing common to all is that they hate  the ‘lecture mode’.

Understanding ‘Entry Behaviour’ is crucial, and it is best for the trainer to chart the   basic characteristics of a cohort ( age, gender ,  education, experience ,IT skills, language competency ).  This also  helps in ‘sequencing’ : from the known to the unknown, from simple to complex, concrete to abstract, overview to detail and observation to theory. It is also important to decide the  vehicle for content  delivery ( mode of travel) – you can’t fly to the runway , or walk to the next city! There are (some) situations where a lecture may work, but more often than not , in a training situation , we need case  studies, role plays, simulations, management games , group discussions , role plays , fishbowls and simulations, and each of these have to be chosen carefully . Once the mode  has been decided, one can chose the ‘medium’ and  there is a wide range – from power point to flip charts and  white boards to webinars , but there are cardinal rules which must be followed for each. For example, a power point must follow the rule of  7×7

(seven or fewer slides, with seven or fewer words per line and  seven or fewer lines per slide). It is not how much you know, but how you convey which makes or mars your communication.

While there is a  difference between a hotel and a hostel, there can be no compromise with regard to basic comforts – a clean bed , study table and working /reading space, and even more importantly, a toilet with  a functional WC , wash basin and shower. Likewise , the class room has to be clean and airy /properly ventilated or air-conditioned so that the focus is on ‘learning’. These hygiene factors play an important role.  Wherever possible, classrooms should be arranged  ‘theatre style, horse -shoe, or U shaped with all chairs focused on the speaker /dais , as well as  the board/screen.  Feedback  from participants and assessment  of the trainee are both important tools to measure the quality and impact of training , and organizations can ignore these twin aspects at their own peril.

Most people love the sound of their own voice, especially  when the audience is ‘captive’ and there is a mike in the hand. Facilitators and trainers must avoid this trap, as also the temptation to use avoidable jargon and show -off their vocabulary . A trainer should never forget that the purpose of language is communication, not to hinder it . She should also encourage a conversation , for as Richard Feynman said ‘ I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned. ’

Nonverbal communication ,posture,  body language , eye contact , gestures, hand movement  are also important part of a trainers’ repertoire , as also voice modulation, pitch , tone and intonation. Respecting the time of the participant as well as your own time is so important , for this is the most important nonrenewable resource  available to us  for as  the management guru Peter Drucker says ‘one cannot buy, rent or hire more time …the supply is totally inelastic …yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable  and necessary resource’.

By Sanjeev Chopra

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