Seasoned professionals are often resistant to training. After all, they’re doing the job and doing it well…what could they possibly do to improve? These pros enter the session rolling their eyes at the idea of improving their skills, believing that their experience and specific knowledge will always be enough to get by.
Even if you have groundbreaking new ideas and techniques to share in your training, speaking from the stage for hours on end won’t be enough to engage participants at this level. So how do you break through the resistance and make them see how much they can get from the training? Here are some tips to try in your next session:
1. The first thing you have to do break through that wall so that they can truly engage in the training and refresh their skills. You must demonstrate at the outset the need for training.
One way to do this is to put them in a situation that challenges them right away to make them see the need for what will be delivered. Skip the 30 minutes of “housekeeping” and self-introductions. Instead, throw them into the pool to see who can swim by getting underway immediately with a case study, exercise or demonstration that exposes an opportunity for improvement.
Here’s an example: In our influencing program, we use a fictional scenario where three people have a limited amount of time to divide $12.1 million dollars. The situation is set up to create competition, and invariably the teams come up with wildly different outcomes. In 15 minutes, we demonstrate the need for using a systematic approach to negotiation and influence to drive consistent results, and we do it without showing a single “content” slide. Everyone is open to the idea of learning something new because they SEE the results of their negotiation on the flip chart.
2. Use video to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of the role players. By utilizing the objective media of video, training participants see their behavior without any subjectivity. There’s no risk of being unable to recall precisely what happened in the role play. The video captures it all – the good and the bad.
Participants can use their own mobile device (camera phones, tablets, etc) to record their role play, to reduce the fear associated with being “on camera.” The recording is then brought to a coach who reviews it with them. Generally, there’s no tougher critic than the participant him or herself when watching the video. Thus, you have broken down resistance to learning by helping them SEE that there’s room for improvement.
Video is also great for follow up – teach them the skills and have them videotape their own “after” video later in the class to illustrate incremental improvement. Several of our clients are even starting to use video to rehearse their skills before critical meetings or negotiations.
3. Another challenge in adult education is the “group discussion” of how to apply a skill on the job after teaching it. All too often, these group discussions lose steam as the training session proceeds. It happens when a handful of participants drive every discussion, and it can happen when group discussion is used too often and people get tired of having to think of things to talk about.
One way to keep a seasoned audience fully engaged is to use frequent polls and demonstrations. Use technology that allows for instant audience feedback. Participants respond privately to a poll or survey question by texting a code to the facilitator, and the results of the survey pop up in a PowerPoint slide in real-time. The facilitator can jumpstart the conversation by sharing the “correct” answer (or answers), which inevitably leads the participants to want to share their thoughts, opinions and perspective about their chosen response.
This combination of anonymity and cutting-edge technology increases participation in the subsequent discussion. Not only do you get 100 percent audience participation, but you also get direction from the audience regarding which points to drive home in your download.
Try some of these tactics in your next session with the seasoned pros to see if you can break through their resistance to training and help them shake the tendency to stick the status quo to get the job done.