Let me share my learning from the rare opportunity I mentioned in my last post. Summarizing the various feedbacks from the others, my learning in terms of action includes the followings:
I experienced the challenges one can get into when the expectation is not aligned. In this situation, there were a few reasons why expectation was not well aligned. First, the learners were external. My usual assumptions on how people behave or what they expect can easily fail me. In addition, I understood the learners’ expectation mostly from the organizer instead of my direct contact. On the other hand, my learners have diverse background – there were both part time trainers and full time trainers. Moreover, some are much more senior than the others. In short, they come with very different expectations.
I shall talk to the opinion-leader-type learners directly before the class. I did call up the learners before the class to understand their expectation. I however just managed to get hold of only one whom I picked randomly. I have also sent out survey in advance. But I should be aware of its limitation e.g. how expressive people would be in a written survey, or that some opinion leaders may not respond at all. I should talk to more learners. And I should find out who the opinion leaders are so that I do not miss learning from and building rapport with them.
I shall extract more information from the organizer. We have only chatted twice on phone. I probably should prepare a list of specific questions to ask. Preferably, I should have met with them in person. For example, if I know in advance that my course was positioned as an intermediate level TTT, I would have sought to understand what the basic level TTT looks like. It would help avoid duplication and understand better the learners’ expectation. In addition, by communicating more thoroughly with the organizer, I could also have them managed the learners’ expectation better for me e.g. more focused nomination or more appropriate course title / description.
I shall understand better in advance the ‘local culture’ e.g. class discipline. I probably should achieve this by talking to the opinion leaders and the organizer.
Preparation for ‘Conflict’
‘Conflict’ is good
Looking back at the challenge I received in the class, I think that it happened because the ‘challenger’ was ‘irritated’ by the new mindset introduced by me. (Note that the new mindset or the controversial point is that ‘Subject Matter Expert is not necessarily a good trainer’) Whilst ‘rejection’ is an unavoidable stage in mindset change, I shall not be surprised to receive the challenge. Instead, I should be happy to see the challenge.
Having said that, I shall minimize the impact to the other learners. I could contain the disagreement in the table team, and then manage from there, instead of letting it show in the big group. More specifically, I can ask the table team to first discuss what the difference is between a SME and a good trainer. I then walk around and observe. In the big group, I will invite first a table team which has a conclusion favorable to the point I try to make.
Making it less controversial
I could also make the new mindset (or any possibly controversial point) more convincing. I will avoid introducing that it is my view. It could induce argument especially if rapport has been well built. Instead, if possible, I will mention the research supporting this point or that it is from a reputable person.
Again, it was a great learning experience. It is probably one of the defining moments in my training career!!