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ASK, NOT TELL

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  • David

RAC – “You got to start at 0900!!”

Updated: Mar 6


Shanghai continued to snow very heavily. In fact, the snow on the night of 2 Feb was said to be the heaviest in the last 50 years!! See the photo on the left – the view from the office to the parking lot nearby. I took it before the training started on 3 Feb. When I got out of my car, I was surprised to find myself stepping on the thick snow. It was over 10cm!! Abnormal weather it is!!


One implication of bad weather to your training class is that some learners will arrive late. The million-dollar question in training – how to deal with the late-comers!! I faced it on the TTT course last Saturaday, the day after the heaviest snow in the last 50 years. And more interestingly, I got to talk about managing late-comers in the class as this is a TTT course. So, I got to walk the talk.

  • Course: A 2-day TTT course

  • Date: 2-3 Feb 2008

  • Location: Shanghai, China

  • # of Participants: 6

  • I am feeling: Fulfilling

At 0900, just 4 of the 6 learners were there. Like other classes, I stopped the music and took the floor. I thanked those who came on time, and I asked for permission to wait for the 2 who were on the way for 10 minutes (I checked with these 2 on the phone in advance.) In addition, I gave the 4 something to do. I asked them to form 2 groups and answer the question ‘What is the consequence to the individuals and company as a result of a bad training course?’ And after 10 minutes, I started the class officially though 1 learner still did not show up.


Here is the logic of why I did the above:

  • Be There - You have to take the floor at the start time mentioned in the Joining Instruction. I sometimes even give some small gifts to the punctual ones at that time. If you are not in the room at that time, or you just let the time passed because not all has arrived, you are penalising those who arrive on time. More importantly, you are basically sending out a message that ‘it is OK to be late.’ You are getting yourself into trouble since your learners will behave accordingly during the class.

  • Keep the Promise - You cannot delay the official start again and again. If you ask for 10 minutes to wait for the late-comers, you have to start officially after 10 minutes. Again, this is about the message you sent to the class. In fact, starting on time despite someone’s absence helps the class discipline. It sends a strong message to the class that you will not wait for them if they are late after the break or lunch.

  • Start the Learning, Not Necessarily the Program - Though you may not be able to start the training officially without all there, you can always start to make those present learnt on their own first. It is our responsibility to maximize their time to learn. Give them a task to make them start thinking about the topic. Or something for them to prepare first so that your official program can be run more smoothly. I prefer to do some activities to get them answering WIIFM themselves e.g. “Consequence of bad training” for a TTT course.

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