Monthly Archives: September 2016

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Trainers or Facilitators?

Not all training or trainers are created equal. When you think about training, are you prioritizing what will really create change, or what will look good on a resumé?

The course in Leadership begins. The instructor, a PhD in sociology and psychology, gets started:
“Ladies and gentlemen, pay close attention to what I’m about to say. The purpose of this course is to teach you to be better team leaders. At the end of the course I will give you an exam to see if you’ve learned it all. I am going to give you some technical notes to read (185 pages) and my book: “How to be a good leader in 5 steps”. I want to warn you: nothing that you’ve learned before this course will work. Please pay close attention, because I won’t repeat anything. If you get distracted, I will ask you to leave the session. The rules are: leave your cellphone in the basket at the door, don’t interrupt, and leave all questions until the end. Discipline is important – no jokes. Leadership is a serious subject. Are we clear?”
A month later, the company’s director of training asks herself: “Why are the team leaders behaving the same way after that ‘great’ course?” They all passed their final exam and their exit evaluations were satisfactory. There was a course and nothing changed. What went wrong?
All the following things:

  1. Participants DON’T READ. Contrary to what you might believe, the majority of training participants don’t read – pre-reading, manuals or their own notes. At the end of a course or workshop, they’ll never read or study what they were given. They don’t have time. They expect to assimilate or learn what they need during the course and be able to apply it immediately.
  2. Participants will behave the way you treat them. If you treat them like students (banning cell phones, passing obligatory attendance, not interrupting the instructor, etc.) they will behave like students. They will sit passively, take notes and pass the exam. They won’t really learn anything.
  3. A participant needs to know how the course will benefit him and what its immediate application is. If the objective is to “teach” then there is nothing of interest to the participant. Passing an exam is not aan authentic benefit for the participant. The participant needs to know how all of this will apply in the short term.
  4. Learning – or failing to learn – is the participant’s responsibility. No adult learns by obligation. No one can make them learn. And even when they’ve assimilated the content, if there is no real transfer of information it doesn’t apply. “Spare the rod, spoil the child” doesn’t work on adults.
  5. Past experience is the starting point for learning. A participant cannot ‘erase’ her experience. Quite to the contrary, it should serve as a springboard. To apply new behaviors, you need to know what to unlearn and in so doing, change your behavior, or how to build new learning adding on to what you’ve already done. Additionally, feedback based on past experience is important and valuable.
  6. Participants need to see role models of what they’re learning. The trainer is the first model they should be taking examples from. It doesn’t matter how much experience or wisdom trainers have, but what they can model for participants.
  7. Seriousness – meaning the absence of emotions – doesn’t favor behavioral learning. Science has proven that learning is more powerful and permanent when it is accompanied by emotional experience. Games, role-playing, videos, even debates, among other tools, generate emotions that favor learning.

Are you going to invite teachers with lots of knowledge and experience or facilitators who know how to extract the best learning from participants?

Ricardo Otero Rodríguez

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Overcoming team conflict: cutting edge research

“Successful teams have three things in common: They meet their performance goals. Their members feel satisfied that they are learning/benefiting from being a part of the team. The process the team uses to collaborate sets it up for future success.” From the Darden School of Business:
Clash of the Teammates: How the Ideal Team Works Through Conflict

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HBR: Getting to Yes – Across Cultures

HBR adds cultural factors to Fisher, Ury and Patton’s classic “Getting to Yes,” taking into account perceptions of expression, confrontation and trust:

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Text messages for business: a double-edged sword

We respond almost instantly to text messages – and that immediacy lends itself to problems. Whatsapp and other texting platforms are here to stay, and using it for business is blurring the line between personal and professional communication.

A recent NY Magazine article detailed the use of a period to end a text message. Does it make the sender seem insincere, snarky, dismissive? Is it an innocent grammatical symbol? What about what happens in professional settings when we use instant messages to communicate? Do these factors influence workplace communication?
eWeek reports that 80% of professionals are using text messages for business. A top executive will send out dozens of text messages on any given day. The official forms of communication in the workplace that helped mediate messages in the workplace years ago have been replaced by a varied set of tools that everyone has access to at a moment’s notice.

  1. Check tone: When we write quickly, we may easily forget to check our tone, whipping off answers or abbreviated messages that can cause misunderstandings or worse: injured feelings. Without tone of voice and body language to moderate how your message is interpreted, extra care is needed. That’s why emoticons or emojis can help for personal texts, but should generally be left out of all professional communication.
  2. Consider purpose: Sending a report via text message and expecting extensive, productive feedback is unlikely. Save texts for simpler, time-sensitive matters.
  3. Consider your professional image: It is important to understand that though texting has become an integral part of our professional toolset, it does require some time and thought and it is not the same as sending messages to friends. Any instant message sent to professional contacts and colleagues should always include complete sentences and proper punctuation.
  4. Remember that it’s evidence: Just because you might delete the message or conversation on your phone, it can remain as evidence of your interaction long after. Though it does not need to be formatted like a printed letter, you should always consider that it will need to be as clear as possible, given the shortness of time that the recipient will likely dedicate to it. Read your message out loud, if you can, and make sure it makes sense and is appropriate for the context, recipient or organization.

Alejandra Gómez

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