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Discipline in Training Workshop
Human Resources » Training & Education

Chrm Message From: jac Total Posts: 34 Join Date: 15/10/2007
Rank: Executive Post Date: 30/12/2007 01:06:49 Points: 170 Location: United States

Hi All

Request your views on the following situation I went through. (I work as a consulting HR Trainer). Recently I conducted a workshop for an organisation, where the participants (a very young lot, surprisingly)

1. Thought they knew everything there was to know - and as a result didn't think it important to listen to the facilitator or other discussions during the sessions for that matter. There were constant cross and parallel conversations going on.

2. Time commitments after breaks etc were simply not adhered to.

3. Discussions at times were stretched to a point where the agenda became to establish one-up-manship, split hairs, etc.

4. Walked in and out to receive / return calls on cell phones.

This happened even after ground rules were established at the start of the workshop about use of cell phones, punctuality, respect for the person speaking, etc.The facilitator took a non-directional and non-authoritarian approach, and while mentioning these behaviours were not helpful or functional, pointed out that discipline was the responsibility of participants.

A debate arose later with the organisation - was it not the responsibility of the facilitator to manage this situation, as the effectiveness of the workshop was impacted?

Would like your views on: (as this unruly behaviour in not at all usual in my workshops!)
1. Any other way of handling this kind of situation during the workshop?
2. What is the organisation's role in establishing the right learning climate/ culture for future workshops?
3. Any other comments?

Hope to recieve your valuable feedback..


Chrm Message From: alexboud Total Posts: 21 Join Date: 15/10/2007  
Rank: Executive Post Date: 30/12/2007 01:08:43 Points: 105 Location: United States

Hi Jac,

The best way is for the trainer to start off by taking a non-authoritarian approach - this will stop giving results soon enough. At such a juncture the best approach is to stop the facilitation altogether and wait for the cross and parallel talk to end. Ditto when any particpant(s) exits the room for taking a call. The silence that ensues in the room when any one participant disturbs and the trainer stops talking is deafening and enough to embarass the *culprit*.

I use it once in a while especially for the younger crowd who simply follow the age old principle ` We don't need no education'.

Clearly the responsibility is on the trainer to see that the client organisation's money is well spent and stretched to the last rupee.


Chrm Message From: ankur.shah Total Posts: 33 Join Date: 15/10/2007  
Rank: Executive Post Date: 30/12/2007 01:09:59 Points: 165 Location: United States

I agree with Alex but I also feel that there is a certain amount of responsibility with the organization/client also. For example, if set ground rules are not being repeatedly followed by the participants, the trainer should stop the session and call in the facilitator from the organization to intervene if the problem is at an extreme. If its bad but manageable, the trainer may wish to wait till the next break. Similarly, if the trainees feel that they are not able to attend the session with concentration and dedication because something promised is not being taught or have some discomfort on the contents, they should call in the facilitator instead of creating commotion within the training room.

As for the contents, the same should have been published earlier to the training and if these guys already knew the subject, the audience was wrongly chosen by the training facilitator within the organization.

However, its a trainer responsibility if cross conversations have started because of the trainer trying to reply to individual queries and thus giving the cross conversation more shape and size.

A no. of similar do's and dont's for the trainer can also be noted and definitely, there is an element of trainer responsibility but I fail to agree that the responsibility lies completely with the trainer and not with the organization.



Chrm Message From: akmal00 Total Posts: 17 Join Date: 15/10/2007  
Rank: Executive Post Date: 02/01/2008 07:40:30 Points: 85 Location: United States

Dear All,

Jac, I do not know what kind of programme you were conducting. I have made some assumptions and responded from there.

I have put my thoughts down as they occurred to me and they are in no particular order.

- If you were surprised that the participants were young, the programme was probably not meant for them. I wonder if the organisation was simply experimenting. Or worse still trying to fill in slots for the programme.

- I do not know whether the first session included expectations of the participants from the programme in addition to setting boundary conditions.

- Stating the organisation brief, what the organisation expects at the end of the programme, may also help. I have found that articulating expectations and my stating what the organisation expects, sets some basic pact with the participants and that helps.

- If the expectations are far out from what you have prepared, maybe working with the bare-bones structure and quickly steering the programme into a space for sharing first hand organisational experiences will help.

- Small things like the group collecting a "fine" from the latecomers, or giving the latecomers a "standing ovation" has helped me maintain discipline

- I do not allow theoretical discussions to go out of hand. I promptly stop it and tell the concerned participant(s) that I am stopping it because this can go on forever and invite them instead to share from their experiences only.

- I have also seen that getting the Group to articulate what is happening to the Group in the "here & now" helps. Share your experience of what seems to be happening in the here & now. Act from there.

- Often times the feeling of the Group "highjacking" the programme comes from the trainer's own issues with power that have not been dealt with.

- After the programme is over, talk about your experience with the Group to the co-ordinator from the organisation, and understand how the organisation views training, nominations for programmes, evaluation etc. This may open up further opportunities.

Finally, if the organisation seems to going through the motions of conducting training without much regard to what happens of it, maybe you need to re-look at your stance in doing work for such organisations. You may choose to not work with them or change your psychological pact with them?

All the best...


Chrm Message From: sanjay04 Total Posts: 57 Join Date: 15/10/2007  
Rank: Manager Post Date: 02/01/2008 07:44:18 Points: 285 Location: United States

I can understand what a faculty feels like when the participants do not appreciate the efforts and show no interest or committment towards the program.

U think taht it was so particularly because they were a young lot...but situation may b similar even in case of al older batch. Here I feel the primary responsibility for maintaining discipline during the workshop is on the organisation and its facilitators.The fact taht he took an apathetic and indifferent view points towards the culture of the organisation.

Ways to overcome thsi could be:

1.Even before u commit for conducting any workshop, make it clear to the organisation that u need absolute discipline throughout or else decline it..because in any case it would do no good to anybody.

2.Put it clearly that u will need a strong facilitator so taht u can focus completely on ur part.

3.Insist that the organisation explains to all the participants in a pre-session the contents of the workshop, its relevance + importance, explain the kind of pains they are taking to organise it, their stake init and therefore seek the committment of each and every participant.

4. As far as possible attendance should b voluntary and not mandatory as it will help atleast those who are serious to benefit from the workshop.

5.However. i think Rashmi even u will have to take tough stands and might have to use a few hard words here and there if things start getting out of control. Thsi si what i feel.I would like to know the opinions of other members also on the issue.It si a serious problem which many of the faculties face when they go to teach in management institutes as well. with best wishes.

Warm Regards

Sanjay Mewar

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