Role of Training

Solving Problems

Effective training must effect positive change in trainees on the knowledge, skills and behavioral levels in a way that completely or partially solves problems faced by those trainees, their organizations or their communities. If a training program does not lead to positive change in trainees attending it then such training is of little value. Even if a training program does happen to make some changes in trainees, let’s say on the knowledge level and even on the skills level too, yet fails to help in solving any real problem or fulfill any strong need then such training as well is not very useful. The role of training is to problem solve through effective positive change in participants on various levels.

Transformational

Highly successful training transforms individuals completely by making them have a paradigm shift thus changing their behavior by changing their beliefs in addition to developing their skills. Such transformational training does not have to be long. It should focus on experiential learning, total immersion training, powerful story telling, lots of visuals and videos as well as informational stats to support and effect belief change and thus a powerful and sustained positive change in behavior.

Story of a Mind Maps Workshop

I once attended a training session about brainstorming using mind maps. The session was largely nothing but a PowerPoint presentation that had lovely illustrations of colorful mind maps while the ‘trainer’ or presenter set about to speak about the history of mind maps, their uses and how they can be constructed. He even asked us to each draw a mind map on paper for how we see ourselves in 5 years. I admit that the visuals were good, his explanation was clear and his providing of an activity was a good idea yet by the end of the training we did not really grasp how to use mind maps to problem solve.

The session was also a bit too boring with me wanting so much to leave. The person next to me actually left early in the session telling me he found it boring. The most astonishing part to note here was the big smile on the face of the trainer by the end of the session and his sense of pride and happiness thinking that he had done an amazing job in that session! I believe if evaluation forms have been provided to participants and in particular questions about practicality of the training and its usefulness in real life were included the trainer would have known better about his real performance. The session was largely information based with lots of visuals but with no focus on actually using mind maps to solve problems.

Conclusion

Effective training is that which leads to positive change in the behavior, skills and knowledge of participants attending it in a way that helps solve pressing problems and fulfill strong needs. A training program that fails to problem solve or achieve a positive change in trainees is of little or no value at all.

Have you ever attended a training program only to find that it was completely worthless and useless? Tell us why you found it as so.

Think and Listen

I had read about the think and listen technique in the past in a PDF document that I had stumbled upon online. It was a technique used in meetings aimed at community building and working collaboratively for activism.

Productive Meetings

I then later set out to try it out during delivering a training session about productive meetings. The think and listen technique turned out to be a great success. I used it once again during delivering another productive meetings workshop to a different group of participants with tremendous results. I then started using it regularly during my training programs for various things.

Procedure

Here is how the think and listen technique works:

  1. Have participants seated in a continuous circle or U-shape.
  2. Go in turn giving each participant a number in sequence starting from #1. Start with participants on your left side.
  3. Ask participants with odd numbers to raise their hands.
  4. Now ask those with even numbers to raise their hands.
  5. Ask those with odd numbers to turn their chairs slightly to the left side and to look to their left sides.
  6. Ask participants with even numbers to turn their chairs slightly to the right side and look to their right.

Participants will find themselves being paired with one another! They will start smiling and speaking to one another.

Now explain to them how the think and listen technique is carried out and the benefits of doing it such as practicing the all important listening skills.

  1. Now ask participants with odd numbers to start speaking to their colleagues about a specific topic you had specified.
  2. Participants with even numbers must keep completely silent and only listen to their colleagues.
  3. This can continue for 2 minutes.
  4. You then ask participants to switch roles allowing participants with even numbers to speak, about the same topic, while those with odd numbers must now listen while keeping silent.
  5. After another 2 minutes, you signal to participants to stop speaking.

Go Round

A fast round of go round should follow the think and listen activity. Each participant in the circle takes a turn to select and mention to the whole class one and only one of the many points he had just mentioned to the colleague he was paired with.

Documenting

An optional step would be to write down what participants are saying in points on the flip chart. You can even ask one of the participants to do the writing. If one of the points is repeated, a check point can be added next to the point that has already been written. When the round of go round has finished the technique now has completed.

Uses

The think and listen technique can be used for a variety of purposes such as collecting problems facing participants at work, gathering their expectations at the beginning of the training or asking them to state what they would be doing differently at work having attended the training.

Where else other then meetings and training sessions do you believe the think and listen technique can be successfully used?