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  1. I was born in the 1970s. That makes me experienced enough to know what I'm on about, and young enough to keep up with latest thinking. I haven't yet got 'set' in my ways, but I've a pretty good grasp on what works for me.

    I don't think I'm ready to be tossed onto the scrap heap, as I have got lots and lots to offer. So why do trainers think that once a theory is over 30 years old, is should be consigned to the bin, never to be spoken of again?

    There is much chat on Twitter and in various blogs about dropping the theories from the last century that have underpinned management training for so long. I can't help wonder why. I suspect that it is because AS TRAINERS we are bored with them. We've known them for years, we can explain them in our sleep, and frankly, they just aren't exciting anymore.

    But wait...isn't training supposed to be for the delegates, NOT the trainer? People who are just been promoted to their first managerial position find Adair's Action Centred Leadership a revelation. The Kubler-Ross change curve is a life-saver for team leaders struggling to introduce unpopular changes at the sharp end. Understanding Maslow's Hiearcharchy of Needs (dating from the 1940s!) is helpful when inducting new employees OR selling. I could go on, but I think that you get my drift. We provide training materials especially designed for those taking their first management, customer service or in a semi-autonomous role, and these 'old' theories are referred to.

    Of course we must be constantly searching for new ways of thinking, working and growing; and if someone is attending their fifth management development programme of their career, then they don't want to see the same stuff (although I ask you to consider whether they would be on their fifth programmes if they actually APPLIED what was covered?). But just because it is old, doesn't mean to say it isn't relevant. Many of these older theories form a solid foundation for more recent and less tangible ideas. They are a fantastic starting point for any development programme.

  2. It's Adult Learning Week this week, so here are some things I'd like all adult learners to know, especialy if they have negative experiences or expectations about training. It's certainly how I position our own bite-size workshops...

    1. It's an old cliche, but please remember that the more you put in, the more you will get out. We learn far more when we are actively involved rather than passive observers. We defintely don't want silence in the 'classroom'!
    2. Training is for you, not the trainer. Yes, we have a framework but we will be driven by YOUR needs as much as long as you tell us what they are!
    3. Training is NOT assessment. You are here to learn, and try out new things. Some will work, some won't. That's fine, and isn't it better to do these experiments when there are no negative consequences?
    4. To grow and develop you must be prepared to come out of your comfort zone and try something new. However, we will never force you to come out of your comfort zone so far that it's scary. Feeling a little nervous can be a good thing, feeling terrified is not, and we would never put you in that position.
    5. The event is only PART of the story. If you come along and get involved that's great, but unless you DO something as a result back at work we could have all been doing something more useful with our time.
    6. It's OK to reject some aspects of the training. We are all different. we have different abilities, gaps, personalities and challenges. Choose the bits of the training that are meaningful to you, and forget the rest. You can choose what you do with it.
    7. I am a facilitator, not an oracle. I stand at the front of the room to draw out all the amazing knowledge and experience that ALL of us have. I may not have the answer, but someone in the room probably does. We learn more when we share.
    8. Start with the end in mind. Decide what it is that you want to get out of the event - this will start the process of tuning in to the parts of the workshop that are more relevant to you.
    9. Relax, enjoy, challenge and have fun. Not only will you have a better time, but you will learn more too!
    10. Reflect, talk it over and take action. Be realistic about the changes you will make and what help you will need to make them. I would rather people make a genuine commitment to do ONE thing differently, than write down 10 action points which amount to nothing more than a wish list. Talking to your manager or a colleague about what you will do also makes you more likely to do it!
  3. Today I've had a bit of an epiphany. Conscious that our training materials for bite-size workshops may seem a bit old fashioned in todays world of instant access, wi-fi, learn on the move and 'apps', I was wondering if I should look at converting all of our materials into more tech-based modules.

    However, today I've participated on a workshop. You know, one of those 'old fashioned' things with coffee and flipcharts, chairs, music, a buffet and people. Being a participant of this workshop has made me realise that actually, our workshops are at the cutting edge of social learning. 

    Social media is wonderful, and I am a fan. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and I love them all. Many trainers have decided to harness the influence of this new media. However, too many people are focussing on the MEDIA and less on the SOCIAL... and that's what a traditional workshop gives you. On a traditional workshop (even a bite size one) you:

    • chat and discuss
    • listen
    • share ideas
    • hear different view points
    • get to build on ideas
    • can be creative
    • laugh
    • make friends and/or useful contacts
    • learn AROUND the subject that is being covered
    • are chalenged thoughfully and as an individual
    • can tackle very specific issues that are relevant to you

    So, rather than trying to make our training the same as everyone elses, I think that (for the moment at least) we'll stick with our format, because learning doesn't just happen by formal methods, or by trainer-to-learner. Everyone attending a workshop has the potential to learn something from everyone else in that room...and that's the REAL power of social learning!