Have you ever been on one of those courses where the trainer stood at the front, told you how fantastic they were, showed endless slides to prove it… and never mentioned your name once?
I have and I hated it. I don’t know about you, but a day on a course like that turns me into a demoralized wreck. I know it shouldn’t affect me… and it’s probably got something to do with whether I was breast-fed or not (I was, by the way!)… but these kind of experiences pull my self-esteem down to zero.
So now I’m going to have my say. If you do any kind of training, coaching, or managing, listen up.
Whenever I go on a course, I want all of the following things to happen to me…
• I want you to acknowledge me. Please, if you ask me for my name up front, use it at least once during the day, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten it, and don’t get it wrong.
• I want to feel as important as anyone else on the course, even if my natural inclination is to say nothing until you’ve made the climate safe enough for me to do so. I don’t want to feel that the only ones you care about are the ones that talk loudest and most.
• I want you to excite me with possibilities not dampen my enthusiasm with silly rules. I don’t want a string of “musts”, “shoulds” and “oughts”. I want to know all about the wonderful things that I can do when I‘ve learnt what you’re helping me to learn.
• I want you to inspire me by telling me how fantastic the subject is and how much I’m going to enjoy learning it. By the way, you do that by telling me how much you enjoy it.
• I want you to be my role model. OK, I know I shouldn’t expect perfection, but on a time management course, is it too much to ask that you turn up on time and run the course to schedule? Or on an assertiveness course, that you sort out the mess over lunch in a confident manner? Remember, we’re all watching you and learning from you.
• I want you to have a bit of empathy with me and the uphill road I’ve got to climb, rather than not mentioning it at all.
Phew! I’m glad I got that off my chest.
In all seriousness, you should think carefully about your trainees’ needs and put them ahead of your own. And, in short, their needs are: to feel needed, appreciated, and noticed; to learn something new, to enjoy themselves, and to feel safe; to feel empowered, at ease and valued.
If you can do all that, you’ll be touching their very souls.