Thursday, 1 November 2018

Calling yourself a Communication Trainer doesn't make you one.




Beware! Here comes a rant…

Last week I attended a seminar and got introduced to a Team Manager from a big bank. When he asked me about my profession, I told him about my work as a Communication Trainer. He scoffed and said he was a Communication Trainer too. 
He recently started running workshops with his team members to improve soft skills.  

This will be interesting, I thought. So I asked him what his background was with Communication Training and Workshop Design. 

"None" he replied.

"None?..." I replied in shock and horror.

"No." he said "Anyone can be a Communication Trainer, right?" 

Needless to say I died a little bit inside...

It seems like everyone is a trainer these days. 
Except that, they're not. 


What it means to be a Communication Trainer

I am not a Communication Trainer just because I say I am. 
And just because you ran a few communication workshops doesn’t mean you are trainer. It just means you lived through an experience, which is valid but doesn’t make you a trainer.

Being a Communication Trainer means you've studied your field. That you’ve spent thousands of hours mastering your craft before even calling yourself a trainer. It means you’ve done the work.

A Communication Trainer is an expert in the ways of transferring knowledge to others. A professional who knows how to make people apply those new communication skills in the workplace.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the Team Leader can not help his team communicate better. I just wish that he would be more careful how he positioned himself. 
Maybe he should stop calling himself a Trainer and start seeing himself as a Student.

Now I know that there are many firms out there that use their front line people to ‘train’ their staff in communication skills. But when you are not an experienced, skilled trainer it is natural to make some dangerous mistakes. 

For example: 

There are no learning objectives in place so the workshop is not designed around achieving those objectives. Without them, it's like trying to hit a bull's eye blindfolded. 

or another common mistake:  

Packing the students with as much information as possible in as little time as possible. In other words, give a lecture, show power point slides and challenge participants to talk and think.  

I like to call this the information dump. Sort of like drinking from a high power sprinkler while lying on your back in the neighbour’s yard. 

There is a lot of water flying around, but how much do you get to drink?
  
A trainer understands how to relay facts and figures about Communication in such a way that the audience will listen, learn and most importantly: apply. 

They know how to entertain, engage and translate facts into relatable stories and impact full learning experiences.

So next time you call yourself a trainer... Please, think again.

Rant over. ;)


Saturday, 20 October 2018

How Scenario Based Training can help you build a Better Business





At InterACT we love to use Scenario Based Training to engage people in learning. This approach is founded on theater methods pioneered by Augusto Boal in the early 1970’s. 

Although drama is widely used in business training, we often hear it is still a concept unknown to many. 

So what is it? How does it work? And how can you benefit from it?

What is Scenario Based Training (SBT)?

Firstly, there is a common misconception that SBT is ‘role play’ or a way of teaching ‘acting techniques’ for business. Whilst these are elements that can be built into a SBT session or form the basis for some follow-on work, they are not what SBT is fundamentally all about.

Scenario Based Training is an experiential change management tool. It helps identify, challenge and change behavior in the workplace. Using the expertise of professional actors SBT brings complex business issues, processes and practices to life in accessible scripted scenarios.

SBT is about learning through experience. It is about creating an energetic, safe environment that engages with staff, encourages participation and a mindset that will be open to the possibility of change and growth. It uses the skill set of talented facilitators and professional actors to motivate and empower employees. This allows them to embrace change and play a positive part in the improvement of overall customer and employee experience.

How does SBT work?

Firstly the desired learning outcomes need to be identified. Then scripted scenarios are written to highlight the key areas for development. Combined with bespoke drama development techniques and traditional training methods these scenarios, presented by the actors demonstrate the identified issues and stimulate debate around the fundamental questions:


  • What is it like to work here?
  • Are we happy with this way of working?
  • Does it fit with our vision and values?
  • How can we do things better?

Skilled facilitation in a fun learning environment encourages participation. It motivates delegates to take ownership and suggest effective solutions to problems themselves. SBT enables them to practice new behaviors and experience how these changes would benefit them and the organisation. As well as how to embed identified learning objectives into every day practice.


Positive Impact

How to benefit from Scenario Based Training? There are several reasons how Scenario Based Training can impact positively on staff morale and contribute to continuous employee improvement in the workplace.

Firstly. It’s unique. Unlike standard traditional training, Scenario Based Training offers a completely unique approach. An approach that is powerful, relevant, different and fun.
But perhaps the biggest impact of SBT comes from the opportunity to observe recognizable workplace scenarios from a 3rd party perspective. This encourages exploring alternative approaches by directing the actors to change their behaviors in a way that influences the outcomes of the scenario. Delegates can look at challenging issues in a safe environment where it’s OK to get it wrong. 

When actors play out scripted scenarios peppered with humor to demonstrate issues, it brings real situations to life. It is a strong, interactive and informative method of highlighting key issues and stimulating debate. As a result, it enables staff to fully understand and implement what they have learnt. Real scenes that people can relate to are a lot more memorable than a PowerPoint presentation.

And last but not least, it improves motivation and confidence. The combination of techniques used in Scenario Based Training appeal to all learning styles. The use of drama and the interactive way training is delivered make it an effective way of engaging delegates improving motivation and confidence in the workplace.



So now that we've answered the question ‘What is Scenario Based Training?’ and covered the reasons why it can benefit your business, do you think your corporate training program could do with a refresh? 

Would you like further information about how InterACT's Scenario Based Training can inspire staff, improve efficiency and deliver results? 

Please contact us at interactwa@outlook.com. You might also like to read about some organisations who have had success from SBT

Sunday, 14 October 2018

How to root out workplace harassment.


We all know it. Employees have a right to work in a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. And as an employer, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that these rights are met. 

So many business try to do the right thing and run frequent workshops that provide up-to-date knowledge regarding legal and duty of care obligations. But based on recent headlines, these training programs might not be working, and employers should perhaps try more innovative approaches. 

Recent research suggest that the best way to prevent sexual harassment, bullying and other toxic workplace behavior is not by proving staff with more knowledge, but to train them in how to stand up for their abused colleagues when they witness incidents. Also know as Bystander Training. 

One reason why encouraging intervention makes good sense is that some 70 percent (!) of employees have observed harassment in the workplace. 
While the concept of encouraging employees to report harassment is not new, bystander training achieves additional goals that may positively shift workplace culture:

  • It provides employees with strategies for intervening in/responding to observed workplace misconduct.
  • It allows employees to practice in simulated scenarios with role play actors to increase confidence and improved communication skills.
  • It reinforces to employees that, if they don't feel comfortable stepping into active situations, they can "intervene" by reporting misbehaviors through different channels.


Additionally, Bystander Training can serve as a powerful deterrent. Potential harassers, even those in high-level posts, will know observing "bystanders" are watching.
Finally, bystander training helps create a culture of shared responsibility and purpose, in addition to boosting workplace morale. 
There is a strong case for incorporating some form of it into existing training programs and there is really no downside to equipping employees with intervention tips to address harassment.

Would you like to know more about our roleplay based Bystander Training Program? Call 0487693349 or visit our website www.interactwa.com.au

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The 1 critical element missing from Leadership Training


When I was 28, I was beside myself with excitement when I learned I was being promoted to my first Account Management position. It was everything I had worked hard for, and I was determined to be the best Account Manager possible. My company's leadership training program addressed many critical elements, like understanding my new role and what my responsibilities would include, communicating expectations clearly and delegating responsibilities. 
However, my training didn't include any learnings on how to deal with conflict and with resistance. It turned out to be the critical missing element, leaving me unprepared for a challenge I would soon face...
In my early days in the new position everything went well, and I was thrilled to see my clients and account team members respond to my actions. However, the honeymoon ended quickly when one of my biggest clients started arguing with me in a crucial meeting and was causing conflict about a contractual error. 
I was so confused. I did not know how to deal with the situation, and it escalated with my client leaving the meeting and myself on the verge of tears.

The reality of conflict
According to a global study an overwhelming majority of employees at all levels (85 percent) experience conflict to some degree. The research also found that employees spent more than 2.8 hours per week involved with conflict. (!) 
This is an enormous financial cost to organizations whose managers lack training in dealing with conflict and those companies who understand the value of training on conflict resolution have a competitive advantage. An advantage I didn't have at 28 years old.

Tips for managing conflict in the workplace
Conflict in the workplace is a given. Bring people together, and you will find differences of opinion, perspectives, and personalities. And to manage conflict, you need to understand your own response to the objection, or person's behavior, or situation. You need to learn how to diagnose a situation and drive it to resolution and, how to manage the conflict and turn it around.
Sound impossible? It's not. Here are a few tips for dealing with conflict:
1. Use empathy statements to show you hear them.
2. Drop your agenda and go into open question mode. (Who? Why? What? When? How?) 
3. Overwhelmed? Suggest taking a break, before resuming. 
4. Ask the person how they feel about your solution.
Need more help?
Our 'Conflict Resolution' and 'Dealing with Difficult Conversations' workshops offer hands on practical advice and scenario based practice opportunities to help manage diverse personalities, conflict, and challenging conversations.

And my client? After developing my own conflict resolution skills I was able to reconnect and rebuild the relationship. We managed to clear the air and get issues out of the way effectively. Twelve months later they placed their biggest order ever. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Presenter, Facilitator, Trainer or Experiential Trainer?




In recent years I have come to notice that many businesses don’t know the difference between a presenter, a facilitator, a trainer or experiential trainer.
In fact, many still consider a training room to be an extension of a school classroom. 
This is the same as believing that a team-leader, a supervisor and a manager all do the same thing...

So to clarify: Who's who? 

Facilitator:
A facilitator is a person who makes the learning process easier. They often help a group of trainees to understand their common learning objectives and assist them to plan how to achieve these objectives. In doing so, the facilitator remains "neutral", meaning he/she does not take a particular position in the discussion. Facilitators don't necessarily need to have formal education in adult learning. 

Presenter:
A presenter is someone who performs a speech or presentation to a live audience, with less interaction with the learners. They are often subject experts and their (sometimes Power Point) presentation is deliberately structured with three general purposes: to inform, to persuade, to inspire and to entertain.


Trainer:
A trainer is able to design and provide training to fill gaps in knowledge that are identified and agreed on. Trainers focus on the foundations of adult education: establish existing knowledge, build on it and keep it relevant. The trainer focuses on learning for the group in face to face sessions and will use videos, group activities and binders with useful information to keep the trainees interested.

Trainers will have formal education in adult learning principles and know that Kirkpatrick and SWOT are not from Star Trek. ;)

Experiential Trainer:
An experiential trainer is a trainer who knows the material well enough to improvise during the session in order to include the participants in the learning. 

They will readily change the session in order to help the needs of the participants. An experiential trainer will use different, interactive methods when designing and delivering a learning event. These methods* are connected to helping learners achieve their learning goals.

*Methods are for example: Reflection exercises on critical incidents, presentations on what has been learned, Role play sessions, Simulation & Drama based Activities, A project that develops ideas further, Group discussions and Feedback sessions & Stories that involve thinking about learning in the placement.


Like to know more about our in-company Experiential Training Programs for 2018-2019? Check out http://www.interactwa.com.au/training-workshops.html