Train the Triner - Love them to Death

Published on 10 June 2015 at 10:36 am #careercoaching #communicatewithimpact #communicationskills #impactfactory #traininginlondon

The blog I wrote on Train the Trainer a couple of weeks ago focused on why trainers need support for their own professional development.

Now I want to look at some of the issues that trainers encounter that make their job tricky (and exhausting at times).

Over the years we've worked with a lot of terrific trainers who work for large organisations as well as a good few free-lance trainers. Common issues they present are: dealing with difficult delegates, maintaining and creating energy, making somewhat dull material interesting, managing a room full of people with disparate levels of skills and disparate goals, among many others.

I like to think of working with trainers as the 'icing on the cake'. Most people who come to do our Train The Trainer courses already have a grounding in what it takes to stand up in front of a room and impart what they know, be it technical or soft skills training.

Occasionally we get novices - people just starting out - but even they have that special something that marks them out as being right for the career they've chosen.

What we mean by 'icing on the cake' is that because most of the people we have on our courses are already good at what they do, our focus is on simple tweaks that will make their jobs a whole lot easier.

Take most people's bête noir - the 'tricky' delegate. We all get them every once in a while and without careful handling they can make the time in the training room somewhat hellish. Less experienced trainers often fall into the trap of either confronting Mr or Ms Hell which can really backfire and turn a whole room against you because you come across as a bully, or side-stepping and ignoring which can also backfire and turn a room against you because you're not taking care of everyone who might be affected by that one person's behaviour.

It can feel like damned if you do and damned if you don't .

The first thing to recognise is that one trainer's difficult delegate may be another's easy peasy one.

Sometimes we trainers get rubbed up the wrong way because someone reminds us of a schoolyard bully or the cousin we had a falling out with. Sometimes we find it hard to have someone who talks ALL THE TIME and doesn't let anyone get a word in edge-wise.

And sometimes they really are downright difficult, objectionable, rude and inconsiderate and those people can make everyone's trainer experience deeply unpleasant if they aren't dealt with.

The first tip is to ensure you know whether someone is irksome because they simply are or because it's your 'stuff' and their behaviour has plugged into something that has all to do with you and not them.

Even if you accept that it might be your stuff, you still have to deal with having that person in your training room.

Here's our biggest tip - love them to death. So what do we mean by 'love them to death'? Rather than create friction or pretend it isn't happening use whatever your difficult delegates do to make them right.

Make them right??? Are you out of your mind? I don't want to make them right; I want them to not be there!

Making them right means acknowledging what they say (even if it's grumpy and ungracious and even if you don't agree with it), something along the lines of "John's made a very interesting point; what does everyone else think?" This opens things out to others in the room and gets the attention off 'John' without disagreeing with him.

You can even begin to ask John's opinion before he offers it.

And the best advice is to spend time with 'John' during breaks and lunch; find out more about him; dig around till you find some common ground. Find something in what he says that you can share with the rest of the group and when you go back into the training room make a point of saying, "When John and I were talking during the break he said something really valuable….."

What you'll be doing is breaking the pattern of what John creates in his interactions with others. He's used to people being exasperated with him; he's used to creating tension or adversarial relationships.

By doing something unexpected, you change his expectations and his behaviour will change - we guarantee it!

That's just one sample of the kinds of things a good Train the Trainer course will cover. Those little extras that really can make a big difference when 'running' a room.

Check out Impact Factory's Train the Trainer courses.

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory