Problems and Solutions, What Have You Experienced?

I enjoyed reading the chapter in our text (Foundations of Human Resource Development, Swanson, R. et. al.) this week regarding an overview of training and development.  And while there is potentially much more lofty theories and ideas that I could have written about in my blog this particular time, I thought it may be even more interesting to repost a section of this chapter regarding problems trainers may have and what experts had to say about avoiding such issues.  I am interested in knowing, has anyone ever experienced these?  And, if you have what did you do to recover?  What will you never do again?  Or, better yet, if you haven’t experienced them what do you think you do that helps you to avoid it?

To quote our text, “Presenters want to succeed, and participants want high-quality interaction.” (Swanson, R. p. 242).  The challenge is often determining what will provide a complete balance of the two for the particular audience in that moment.  So….I’d love others thoughts as I go down the list myself…perhaps in this blog we can deem it knowledge sharing:)

“Fear (Be well prepared; use ice breakers, acknowledge fear)”

I’d actually add to making it through the first five minutes.  I’ve often found that if I can just get through the first five minutes, my nerves seem to calm and I begin to settle in.  Being prepared is a given, but finding your own personal groove is a whole other piece.

“Credibility (Don’t apologize; Have an attitude of an expert; Share personal background.)”

You don’t have to know everything, no one knows absolutely everything.  But know your subject well enough and let your knowledge of being a trainer guide the rest.  Allowing yourself to be open to dialogue that contests your opinion can also be powerful:)

“Personal experiences (Report personal experiences; report experiences of others; use analogies, movies, famous people)”

Love this one!  Making it relatable can definitely help to make it stick!

“Difficult learners (Confront problem behavior; circumvent dominating behavior; use small groups for timid behavior)”

Yikes!  This one can be super difficult.

“Participation (ask open-ended questions; plan small group activities; invite participation)”

This can be so huge in making the experience!  But what works for others when folks get…too participative?

“Timing (plan well; practice, practice, practice)”

And even then you may need a back up plan for when your timing ends up off (e.g. too much dialogue, not enough time for exercise, etc.)

“Adjust instruction (know group needs; request feedback; redesign during breaks)”

Please see above:)

“Questions (Answering: Anticipate questions; paraphrase learners’ questions; “I don’t know” is OK) (Asking: ask concise questions; defer to participants)”

Love this!  I can’t begin to tell you what answers have come out of participants that are SO much better than what I could have come up with.  I ALWAYS learn when I teach.

“Feedback (solicit informal feedback; do summative evaluations)”

This is something that I am actually working with someone on now.  While the truth may hurt sometimes, if your goal is to truly provide the best experience possible for your learners, you cannot negate this process.  And consider that word as well, evaluation and feedback is definitely a process.

“Media, materials, facilities (media: know equipment; have back-ups; enlist assistance) (material: be prepared) (facilities: visit facility before-hand; arrive early)”

OMG, I cannot begin to tell you how important this rule of thumb has been for me!!  Electronics can always go haywire.  I’ve experienced a classroom that was set up and did not have a laptop, a missing thumb drive, a non-working remote and a blown bulb.  Life can be so unpredictable!  And there’s nothing like running in to find issues and not having enough time to try and fix them to ensure a smooth program.  Give yourself time, and always have a backup!

“Openings and closings (openings: develop an “openings file; memorize; relax trainees; clarify expectations) (closings: summarize concisely; thank participants)” 

“Dependence on notes (notes are necessary; use cards; use visuals; practice)”

And sometimes just trust your gut that you’ve done enough.  As long as you remember the high points, they will never know what you may have forgotten to say 🙂

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About hdjackson

Graduate Student at Virginia Commonwealth University studying the theoretical world of Adult Learning along with its relation to Human Resources Developement. View all posts by hdjackson

2 responses to “Problems and Solutions, What Have You Experienced?

  • maryrwaters

    I like your breakdown of the Swason chapter, Holly. Good blog post! When I read the chapter, I kept thinking about a course I teach in the fall to 18 year old freshmen – titled, Introduction to the University. I’m suppose to help them understand campus resources, effective time management, study skills, and goal setting in a matter of 16 weeks. We meet once a week for 50 minutes. The only way they can take me seriously is if I can be relatable/credible. I use a lot of personal stories and try to establish a relaxed, open environment of knowledge sharing. I sometimes struggle with a solid opening and closing to tie it all together (my own struggle with timing and the need to practice more I suppose). Next semester, I hope to take a lot of the material I learned in this class and implement it in my own classroom. So much good stuff here. I can use this same training model that Swanson recommends when it comes to teaching and advising. The tips are pretty universal.

  • Elizabeth Goetz

    Great post, Holly! I love how you brought all these to my attention again and you gave some great pointers throughout! There are definitely a few of these that I’m still working on to develop a best technique, such as difficult learners. And some I have already learned due to stressful situations in the past, such as media, materials, and facility. I find what really eases me into a group setting at the beginning is to start by asking questions. That way not all the attention is on me and it opens up the room immediately for discussion throughout the training. The timing is also another difficult one. What I have found myseld doing recently is skipping over some of the non-essentials. Of course, if it really was non-essential, then it wouldn’t or shouldn’t be in the training materials so I know this isn’t the right way to go about it. I think we may have to learn how to stick to a certain timeframe for activities and move conversations along if it starts to go too long. Then again, I don’t like that either because usually there is some really good discussion when participants become engaged. This is a tricky one. Feedback is important too. Like you, the truth hurts sometimes but it’s better to have the opportunity to improve the training when participants have these thoughts. I find it hard though when you get mixed feedback due to different learning styles. We must take it all into consideration though. Again, great post! Got me thinking about a lot.

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