I am running a 5-day training workshop this week. I am not only a trainer for a few sessions but also the overall manager for the workshop.
Whilst I am writing now, today is the day 2 of the workshop. The discipline is just less than satisfactory. I have people coming late, absent on day 1, using mobile phone / blackberry, and showing up without enrollment on day 2. I am asking myself why - and here are some thoughts
1. Unclear instruction from the trainer e.g. they are simply not clear when they are supposed to come back
2. Inadequate respect to the fellow participants and trainer
3. Need to run the BAU business whilst in class e.g. called by boss or clients
4. Personal reasons
5. Boring class - irrelevant content, lack of interaction
Unsatisfactory class etiquette has always been the major area of concerns for trainers. I have been picking up and creating various ways to render better etiquette, and thus better learning environment for all of us. I think I have done well to tackle point 1 and 5. The most difficult ones are point 2 and 3. For point 4, it is more that you show your understanding and check whether they should leave the class at all.
A personal learning from this workshop on managing etiquette â€“ I was quite upset this morning. Some gave me lousy reasons why they did not show up on day 1. Despite reminder on day 1, some did not come to the room on time. And then after today session started, I still found some leisurely smoking outside the room. That really irritated me. I came up to them and asked â€˜do you when the program is supposed to start?
If I could do it again, I shall have suppressed my emotion and said 'I need some favour from you guys. I need to tighten up the time flow so that people do not have to stay late, and we could all have a better learning environment. Could you please help to take a lead?'
In short, people will likely follow if you show respect. Or people will do what you request rather what you instruct.
Emotion control is another important learning point. As a trainer, you will someday got irritated by some behaviours. But no matter how wrong they are, you will lose if you show your emotion, cos you are the one representing the atmosphere of the class. Emotion will also make you less able to challenge your own assumption - you will think 'They do not show up because they do not respect me, or that they do not control their work schedule well enough!!' Sometimes, your participants may really have something urgent to attend e.g. I have one who has his father sent to the hospital during a class. It will be a disaster if you get angry and show your emotion as he is always on a call!!!
So, the learning points are:
Never show your emotion
Give clear instruction
Don't be boring
Pick up effective tricks / ways to manage mis-behavior
Be aware of your assumption why mis-behave