Handling Complaining Employees

Complaining

Often times when I am delivering soft skills training to employees working at some large organization I find some of them strongly complaining about their work and the difficulties they are facing there. They complain about the workload, the lack of sufficient resources, the bad conduct of customers, their managers and even their own colleagues. Sometimes there is only one or two such complaining employees during training and sometimes there are many. When attempting to develop the skills of employees during the training, the complaining ones start to arise complaining about the difficult conditions they are facing at work.

Drowning

If the trainer gives way to such complaining employees they might turn the whole atmosphere of the training program into a bitter and negative one hindering any positive impact from the training. They would eat up and consume a lot of time from the training program and drain their own energy, the energy of their colleges and perhaps even the energy of the trainer himself. Therefore, the corporate training should prevent by all means such negative behavior from those participants to take over the training program and reduce it into nothing but a large avenue for venting out their frustration about difficulties they are facing at work.

There are several methods by which the corporate trainer can control and limit such negative and harmful behavior. Here is a list of some of those methods.

Release

One way to keep employee complaints in check is to allow participants at the beginning of the training to release the complaints they may have in an organized and controlled manner. This can be done using the think and listen technique. Participants are asked to pair up and express problems or difficulties they are facing at work that are making their work harder or preventing them from providing top performance. Then through a round of go round, the most pressing problems can be gathered from participants and written on the flip chart.

Giving all participants a chance to express their problems to their colleagues then to everyone in the training room and then documenting those problems in written form takes out a lot of steam from the complaining employees and allows them to relax during the rest of the training program. An alternative method for collecting employee problems is through the clustering technique.

Proactivity

In addition to allowing participants to express problems they are facing at work during the beginning of the training program, the trainer may also start by talking about the circle of influence and explain how successful people find solutions within their reach and carry them out while unsuccessful people just keep complaining and blame all their problems on other people or on external factors. Explaining this concept thoroughly by the aid of charting diagrams on the flip chart and giving examples through storytelling results in a total halt of complaints from employees attending the training.

Harsh Conditions

The trainer may also mention that it is the competent person who is able to perform well in difficult conditions and that if conditions were to be ideal then any employee with average skills would be able to perform well. Therefore, difficult conditions are actually a means by which highly competent employees can be distinguished.

Ground Rules

A further method by which a corporate trainer can stem the rush of employee complaints from the start of a training program is to include a slide at the beginning of the PowerPoint presentation in which he writes “We are not here today to complain about our work problems!” This can be considered as part of the ground rules and helps eliminate any such negative talk from participants during the training.

Appreciation

A trainer may also explain that we all as humans seek to gain the respect of and appreciation from others. The competent aim for acquiring that through their distinguished and exceptional performance while the incompetent attempt to gain it through complaining about their difficult conditions.

Conclusion

A competent corporate trainer is able to keep employee complaints about their work under control during the training by completely eliminating such complaints or by allowing participants to vent out such complaints in a controlled manner. This helps in maintaining a healthy positive atmosphere throughout the training program.

How else can you handle complaints from employees about their work during a training session?

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Changing Behavior through Switching Beliefs

One Coin, Two Sides

A change in someone’s beliefs can lead to a change in his behavior. In order to influence and change the behavior of participants you should attempt to influence and change their beliefs. Beliefs and behavior are two sides of the same coin. If behavior of a person does not mirror a belief he claims to be holding then he is not truly holding such belief he is claiming to be holding.

The 3 Elements

Behavior or attitude is one of the 3 main elements a trainer attempts to make positive change in besides skills and knowledge of trainees. In fact, changing behavior is the most difficult of the three and has the strongest and most lasting effect. But how can the trainer influence trainees so as to change their behavior? Here I will show you a powerful method for changing participant beliefs and thus in effect changing their behavior.

Logic

Some may think that providing logical explanations and guiding trainees to logical deductions and conclusions can be the right way to influence and change their beliefs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Such method may indeed silence participants and prevent them from arguing yet it will not shake off the original belief they are holding to.

Storytelling

A much more effective method and a really powerful one is to provide real stories of actual cases that attest to the validity of the belief you want trainees to be holding.

The strongest type of story would be one that you have gone through yourself and in which you have gone through the journey of holding the wrong belief followed by going through a personal experience that made you lay down such wrong belief and hold a new one. This is the most powerful type of story that creates instant belief switching in the minds and hearts of participants.

If you do not have a personal story of such a belief change you may narrate the story of someone else who had such a belief change after going through some personal experience. If still such a change-of-belief story is not available then you can narrate a true story the events of which attest to the validity of the new belief you want participants to be holding.

Quitting Smoking

Let’s take an example to make this method clearer. Let us say there is a group of participants who are carrying out the harmful behavior of smoking. Let us assume that their subconscious minds are holding twisted beliefs that smoking might not be very harmful due to seeing many people around them who smoke yet are not greatly suffering health wise. If the trainer attempts to give hard facts about how smoking has been scientifically proven to harm the body, such numbers and logical explanations may still not effect change in the behavior of participants.

If rather than that a trainer narrates his own true story in which he had been a smoker not really believing so much in the harmful effect of smoking then going through a difficult experience of sharply deteriorated health resulting in a change in his beliefs about smoking consequently resulting in a change in his behavior then such a story can be a real influencer and would probably have a strong and powerful effect on participants making many of them change their beliefs about smoking and probably changing their behavior as well in the form of attempting to cut down on smoking or quit smoking altogether.

Conclusion

So, next time you are trying to convince someone with something do not try and argue using hard facts but use a true story to get your point through. This could lead to a change in his beliefs leading to a change in his behavior.

How else can you influence the behavior of a smoker to help him quit smoking?

Engaging Participants with Storytelling

Training of Trainers

I was once delivering a training of trainers course. One of the participants was already an experienced trainer who was herself delivering training of trainers courses yet decided to attend my training to see how I delivered that course. During one of the sessions of the course, I asked participants to provide a brief 10-minute demo of workshops they are preparing. That participant, who is already a trainer, raised her hand to have a go at providing a demo of her workshop. I allowed her other colleagues to take turns first then signaled to her to come present her demo.

Incomplete Story

She came and stood in front of her colleagues with great confidence, briefly introducing herself by mentioning her name then mentioning the title of her workshop. She then proceeded directly to telling a story related to the subject of her workshop. It was an actual story that had taken place long ago and contained powerful lessons within it.

The assigned 10-minutes for the demo came to an end and I signaled to her to stop. She had not completed the story and wanted to continue. I told her that time was already over. Many participants pleaded and begged me to let her continue with the story she had started. They were so eager to listen to the rest of the story to know what happened next. Nevertheless, I refused her extra time so that she would learn how to manage her time better next time despite the many pleadings I got from her colleagues who had been following her story with full attention and deep engagement.

After she went back to her seat, I praised the technique she used during her demo which was storytelling. I pointed out to participants of the training of trainers course the fact that they were fully engaged with the story she was narrating and how they were dying to have her continue it. This experience showed everyone how engaging storytelling can be.

Lasting Effect

Storytelling is a very powerful technique that can be used by the trainer during a training session not only to deeply engage participants but also to achieve a deep lasting effect and induce a strong learning experience. The human mind is designed to handle stories exceptionally well in terms of attention, retention, digestion, reflection, deduction and later practical use of the information in and deductions from such stories.

Types of Stories

The most effective kind of story is one the trainer has experienced himself and was part of. The second best are real stories the trainer had heard or read about. A third type of story, still very effective, is fictional stories that make a point or provide specific lessons.

Conclusion

No matter what the training is about, a competent trainer can make good use of the storytelling technique to achieve deep engagement of participants and a strong and lasting learning experience. A trainer may even allow and encourage participants to use storytelling themselves during their presentations or as part of other training activities during a training session.

Is there a story that has changed your life after you listened to it or read about it? Tell use about it.

Using Storytelling in Training

Story telling is an important skill that any professional trainer should master and be able to use effectively during training. The human mind is designed to accept, enjoy, seek, retain and make use of stories effectively. Stories are the natural way through which rich information is passed to the human mind.

Benefits

Stories may contain emotions which reinforce the learning process, boost retention and improve comprehension. Stories include time sequence which also help create a natural sequence between events. Stories are very rich in connections and relationships among various elements of the story which makes them a very powerful and effective learning tool. Stories are anti-boredom tools that can be used in the training room.

Reflection

One additional interesting thing about stories is that they can be a very rich source for reflection. Trainees can draw lessons from a story on their own and make discoveries. They can even keep discovering new lessons from a story long after they have listened to it.

More Benefits

Another reason that makes stories very powerful is their ability to convince trainees and influence them through touching their emotions and providing a logical sequence of events. Stories also evoke trainee imagination which creates a high degree of trainee engagement, enjoyment and retention.

Storytelling

Types of Stories

Fictional/Fable

One type of story is the fictional story or the fable. Although such story is not real yet it still enjoys the elements of engagement, enjoyment, time sequence, reflection and retention.

Real Life

An even more powerful story is a real story that has actually taken place in real life in the past and that the trainer might have heard or read about. If the trainer has learned about such a story firsthand by listening to it directly from someone who has experienced it this provides for an even stronger type of story. The trainer in such case should mention that he has heard it from a person who has experienced it himself.

Firsthand Experience

The most powerful type of story at all is one that the trainer has experienced by his own self and has learned from. This is the most powerful type of story and the most engaging and convincing.

Past Mistakes

One sub-type of such a story is when a trainer talks about his past mistakes which makes the personals story even more powerful and influential. Personal stories also help create an even stronger bond between the trainer and his trainees.

If there is no personal story covering the concept being explained the trainer can resort to stories he has heard or read about or to fictitious stories. Storytelling is a very powerful tool that every professional trainer should master and be able to use effectively during training.

What else makes stories so enjoyable and important?