The best thing about the training was … “the way the trainer adapted the session to meet the group’s ability and experience with the system” … “the skill and knowledge of the trainer and the positive approach” … “it was very relevant to our work. Now feel confident to work fully through TRIM” … “interactive and provided opportunity to discuss issues relevant to workplace” … “Awesome trainer, upbeat, confident, quick, interesting, funny. Brilliant session.”
Student comments like this are gold for both the training company and the organisation. The participants have been totally engaged in their EDRMS training. They are brimming with confidence and positive belief in the new system and process. They carry this enthusiasm with them to their desk and have a go. Because their personal issues have been addressed they successfully apply the training to their personal work.
This is real feedback from a complex TRIM course related to a major change in a business process. The change in process affects 5000 staff. Naturally multiple trainers delivered the program. Consistency in the quality of training was extremely important as it takes only one business group refusing to use the process to erode the gains achieved elsewhere.
Participants in every one of these full day sessions presented with the complete range of challenging behaviours described in “EDRMS – Don’t let the students get you down”. A significant part of the acknowledged success of the program was the ability of the trainers to manage challenging behaviours well.
Managing challenging behaviours as they surface and disrupt your class is a reactive approach. It’s ‘putting out fires’ all the time and that is exhausting and stressful when delivering to hundreds of people. Trainers need to proactively manage challenging behaviours in order to consistently deliver outstanding training. They need to engage in risk management for training; engineering out the likelihood and consequence of difficult students.
The technique to manage risk in training is framing. Framing addresses known factors that reduce focus during training, retention of learning and challenging behaviours. Framing sets the stage and participant rules to enable delivery of exceptional training. Master this and you will be able to stay on track with the content, whilst addressing individual concerns.
Framing must occur before any training begins. Extra time spent on framing an EDRMS course will be well worth the time you recover during the course by being able to stay on track.
Framing Part 1: Creating A Positive Environment
Every trainer knows the basics of training design; however, many fail to see the importance in establishing a positive perception of the trainer, fellow participants and the approach to delivery. These basic communication steps need to be rigorously adhered to every time to create a positive training environment.
Establish Yourself as a Professional
Session framing starts from the moment you walk into the classroom, even before the students arrive. Be organised, set student materials and your own up, provide quality materials. The impression the students gain when they enter the classroom has a significant effect on their confidence in you and their willingness to follow your instruction and class rules.
More than that; make friends with your students. Be interested in who they are, why they are there and what their current experience is. Listen closely. Use this knowledge during the delivery to know who to direct questions to when relevant workplace examples will help cement the training. Gaining contribution from students during the delivery shows you value their input and respect their experience.
Once all the students have arrived take a few minutes to have them introduce themselves to the class. Most importantly have them share current skills and experience. Participants will be supportive and patient with each other when they are aware of personal challenges. Unfortunately, without prior knowledge, it is a natural tendency to be negative or prejudiced if someone obstructs our learning.
Provide a Road Map
Unknown expectations build anxiety. Anxiety leads to loss of confidence or trust, which causes students to cross examine or challenge trainers or the training, generally negatively. It’s easy to eliminate most anxiety by clearly advising students of:
• The structure of the course delivery
• Input and actions you will request from the students (naturally phones are on silent)
• How you will manage questions (e.g. if it is relevant to everyone and the topic you will answer, if time is limited and it is specific to a single person you’ll answer in the break, if it is beyond the course you’ll note and pass it on)
• What students are expected to retain from the course. Expecting full retention is unrealistic. Providing students with access to quality training materials is important, and reduces the pressure on students to remember every detail during delivery. It also enables the trainer to move training along at the necessary pace.
• How their learning will extend beyond the classroom. That is, what they are expected to do post training, and support that is in place.
Stick to the Clock
We are creatures of habit. Most importantly in training that’s the coffee habit. People need adequate breaks to refresh their bodies and brains to stay focused. They may not be aware of this so you need to control break times and length so your students remain attentive. They also need to know when breaks will occur. Be clear when talking about timings of the need to cover everything in the course, and that you will control the number of questions or length of discussion in order to move along.
What Happens Next?
Who will be providing technical or business support? And how will it be accessed? Make sure you, as a trainer, know this and provide the information physically to the participants. All too often your students will have a prior history of poor post course support, which will lead to them being disengaged in your course. You will need to build their confidence that this will not occur.
Framing Part 2: Dealing With Challenging Behaviour
The second level of framing requires the trainer to be proactive and very specific about how they will handle challenging behaviour. Typically trainers find addressing challenging behaviours confronting, and would prefer to complete the basic framing and move forward into delivery simply hoping challenges will not arise. It’s unlikely you’ll be that lucky. But by creating an advanced level of framing before you commence and applying the rules of the framing during the course you’ll find your luck increases (or in reality you’ve now created a great environment for learning).
Advanced framing is best covered just prior to a specific part of the training where it is known the challenging behaviour will occur.
Knowing your audience, their past experience and their concerns about the training is a key element of framing to handle challenging behaviours. Prepare for known issues by discussing them with stakeholders before training commences. For instance, people may be concerned about their responsibility to introduce electronic document management to managers who refuse to do away with paper copies of records.
In this case get to know the organisation policy and also be aware of the limitations of individual control before commencing training. Discuss with the participants approaches that can be taken, and the path of continuous improvement. Explore how this will work in your participant’s work environments. And then introduce the mechanics of creating electronic records.
Use this approach to create a discussion where you are in control and can manage direction and time devoted. You will guide the discussion to a positive outcome, never having commenced from a negative viewpoint. But if you don’t address the known issue your participants will eagerly leap on the “this won’t work” bandwagon and you will have a lot more work to do to create a positive learning environment.
However, some of the issues can only be uncovered through a few sessions of delivery. You must use a continuous improvement approach; adjusting and improving the framing as information is acquired.
Participants as Experts
As an EDRMS trainer your core skills are the ability to use and understand the software, and communicate clearly with students. It is an unrealistic expectation for you to know their job as organisational roles are complex and varied. However, there is huge value to the student in being able to relate the use of EDRMS software back to their individual work process and unfortunately many students have an expectation that you do know their job and how their job will interact with the EDRMS.
Make your students aware they are the Subject Matter Experts in their own work, and you will draw on that expertise during your delivery. Impress your students with your apparent knowledge of their business by acquiring skills at facilitating discussions on the application of the EDRMS to work processes. Not only does this release you from unrealistic expectations, but it conveys to your participants that you value and respect them.
What You Won’t Address
Be clear about the topics that are not covered in the training and why. These include controversies that are not relevant or beyond the control of yourself or the participants. Participants will frequently try to railroad training by raising them. Typical examples are:
• Previous EDRMS rollout failure
• System storage
• Individuals who it is well known will not be using the system
Develop a short statement prior to training about the topic and why it will not be entertained during the training. Establish this as a ground rule. By providing this framing up front you are placed to be very direct with a student when it is raised during the course and simply state that “we’ve already recognised that and agreed it is not useful to discuss it during this course.” You can then move ahead with the training.
Framing is a powerful proactive tool in managing a class of students. It empowers the trainer and reduces the incidence of challenging behaviour. It also provides participants with structure and comfort in knowing how their training day will run.
© 2011 Change Factory and Linked Training