Potential Problems

Following from my last blog Top 10 Training Tips from Ben at Velsoft in which I confessed that I have made (and learned from) many mistakes during my training career I want to tell you that training workshops don’t always run smoothly. Somebody once said that training would be a great job if it weren’t for the participants. While that is probably true at times, training might also be a more wonderful thing if it weren’t for the trainers!

Here are some challenges that trainers can face:

  • People aren’t participating or act bored
  • You run out of time
  • You finish the workshop too early
  • The group is in conflict
  • An exercise you have planned doesn’t work

What can we do about these situations?

Success Solutions

People aren’t participating or act bored.

It is much easier to engage participants from the beginning if you can. This means finding out what each person is looking for in an early needs assessment. (Think of the introductory exercises for this session when people introduce themselves. If you also ask them what they want from the day, you can tuck that information away and refer to it throughout the workshop.)

When you are aware of what participants are looking for, you are better able to direct the flow of the workshop toward meeting those needs. Later, if people seem bored, ask yourself if you are talking too much, boring them with PowerPoint, or failing to allow their ideas to surface. Have they been in one learning modality too long? Is the workshop pace too slow? Are you moving through material so quickly people have stopped trying to keep up? Once you have addressed the issue, you can start resolving it.

You run out of time.

It can happen that you just tried to cram too much material into too small a time. However, you will often realize this in time to ask the participants to suggest which points are most relevant to them and to ask their permission to concentrate your efforts in those areas.

You finish the workshop too early.

Most participants have no problem with finishing up a little bit early. However, if it is more than an hour too early, some things you may wish to try including:

  • Review contests
  • Questions that they prepare and ask one another
  • Q&A session
  • A discussion of how they can apply what they have learned when they return to work

It is always a good idea to plan for this contingency and bring along extra activities.

The group is in conflict.

Try putting people in different groups to work on interesting assignments or projects together. It is hard to conflict with someone once you become interested in a common goal or result. When a group is in conflict, it is imperative that you work resolve the conflict first.

An exercise you have planned doesn’t work.

Move on. Treat it lightly but make a mental note of what could or should have been done to make it work in the future.

Ben Jodrey is a content strategist at Velsoft Training Materials.