How to encourage ideas flow in a training session that includes different personalities and generations

Written by Nick Gold on 17 April 2019

Reading time: 4 minutes.

What is the truly great thing about a diverse workforce? I would say it’s the opportunity for a group of people with different stories, backgrounds, experiences and views to come together to create an environment where both personally and professionally they can thrive. 

This environment, with the right nurturing and attention, can take businesses to new levels in terms of culture, but also in terms of output. The critical aspect is how business leaders encourage and develop this environment to allow such feats to happen.

Training sessions are environments which actively encourage the interaction of participants for them to learn and develop. They are a time outside of the standard working day when attendees are encouraged to think beyond what they know with the aim of maximising themselves as a person. 

The moderator or trainer of the session has two main purposes of the training day. Historically, delivering the course would have been the only objective. The delegates might or might not get involved, but the training was nonetheless structured in a highly-prescribed way. 

It is now understood that the traditional structure will only provide part of the experience, and the interaction from attendees will bring the collective to a higher potential for new learning. 

The delegates’ interaction and learnings weren’t measured or tracked after the session, nor were they necessarily integrated into the working practices of the individual or the team (unless they were part of existing processes within the team or the company).

This objective still holds.

The aim of the training session is, of course, to deliver the prepared material. But we have gone beyond that; businesses have realised that their individuals will change and improve the company and the processes that run and define it. 

Alongside this, the delegates are more and more self-aware that the training day is also an opportunity for them to grow and develop in themselves, outside of merely how they can go back and impact their business.

As such, both the business and the individuals should view training sessions, now more than ever, as an opportunity for development. It is now understood that the traditional structure will only provide part of the experience, and the interaction from attendees will bring the collective to a higher potential for new learning. 

This understanding fosters an environment where attendees are looking to share, engage, and discuss so that their experiences are informed by the views of others. It is acknowledged that the age-old adage of experience trumping other attributes is no longer true. 

 

Admittedly, experience is a massive plus, but society, in so many areas, is changing. Different generations need to relay their understanding into each other such that everyone can learn from each other.

If experience is no longer the dominant attribute, it can be hypothesised that the trainer leading the session should no longer be seen as the driver but rather the facilitator. Yes, they have the topics they need to work through, and they have the key points they need to get across.

Yet, how the training session gets to these points and the direction it takes, should no longer be seen as a staged plan, but rather a journey that the delegates are going on together with the trainer enabling the navigation.

The aim for the facilitator is to create the environment that encourages everyone in the room, with their variant backgrounds, experiences and thoughts, to speak up and share.  Of course, this is no easy task and not something that triumphs every time, but through setting the agenda in the right way, so much is possible.

If the facilitator can reframe their personal aims, and welcome a shared learning experience, the training session can push delegates to ‘own’ the session, and take from it as much or as little that they, as a collective, put in.



The facilitator should use sessions that are dynamic and interactive. They can be short, intensive and allow the delegates time outside the formal sessions to informally chat through their thought processes together. The experience should be a whole; the breaks should be part of the learning and conversations should happen both in and outside the sessions.

This new way of thinking about training requires a more flexible and dynamic approach from the trainer. It requires the business to think more carefully about what they are looking for. It requires time taken to define what they are hoping to achieve from the training session, and how this will be measured thereafter.

But there is a huge upside of this new direction towards collaboration in training. It means all involved have access to a rounded experience, giving the opportunity for vast individual development, and the chance to learn from each other as much as from the course itself.

 

About the author

Nick Gold is managing director of market-leading speaker bureau and consultancy, Speakers Corner.

 

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