Matthew Richter posts daily comments in LinkedIn—well almost daily. You can follow him and join the conversation by going to http://linkedin.com/in/matthew-richter-0738b84. For the benefit of our readers, we decide to compile and reprint some of his provocative pieces from the past. Let us know what you think.
Trainers are not psychologists.
They are not therapists, and they are not counselors. Particularly with soft skills, many of us get sucked into the highly ego-raising position of analyzing peoples' motives, prescribing behavior modification, and even trying to "fix" people. Many of us go to 3-5 day certification programs on pseudo-psychological assessments and models and profess to be experts with little or no training beyond that. Trainers are educators who develop skills. We have a responsibility to do no harm, and more importantly, not take on a role advising in capacities we are not credentialed to do so.
"We need a course on coaching." Or... "We need a course on conflict management." The assumption for many of our customers is we are order takers. But to serve our customers best, we need to properly diagnose the performance gap. We need to identify what the actual root causes are and work to solve those. Training on a specified topic might be the answer, or, our customers are jumping to conclusions because they lack the expertise to accurately determine both problem and solution. Training is one intervention of many. More importantly, the intervention and the topic for the intervention need to be appropriate, as well. Take the time and solve the right problem with the right solution.
Training should engage, but it doesn't need not be fun. It is never my goal to entertain, but rather to immerse participants in an experience that facilitates learning. While that might be fun, it could also be sad, stressful, or even scary. The objective is engagement. Finally, that engagement must be optimally challenging-- not boring and not frustrating. In other words, I focus on participants' sense of competence, their sense of a good challenge. I focus on meaning and purpose rather than a good time. If fun occurs, great. If not... as long as people see value and are challenged... I am happy.