The most important word in a Trainer’s vocabulary


shipwreck-1854

Trainers and teachers spend a whole lot of time working with people.  They work out where people are at, and work out how to get them from here to there.  As part of becoming a trainer, they will learn about learning, and about instructional design and assessment and that sort of stuff.

But they will probably not learn the one skill that is arguably more important than all others.

That is the ability to say “no”.

Why?  It’s like a sailboat.

With every small wave or shift of the breeze, minor adjustments must be made to the tiller or the sails.  If it were not for these continued adjustments, the boat would likely end up way off course.

It doesn’t happen out loud, but preceding every decision to change the tiller or adjust the sails is the following thought process:

Are we doing what we need to do right now to get where we want to end up?

No.

Back to the classroom.

Training someone really is like sailing a boat.  And that is why being aware of what our learners are doing is so important.  We check their understanding, just as we check the sails.  We monitor the non-verbal cues just like we monitor the winds.  And we ask ourselves the same questions:

Are we doing what we need to do right now to get where we want to end up?

Unless we ask that question continuously, and answer it honestly, we will not end up getting our boat across the finish line.  Instead, we will end off-course (an unintended, but hilariously funny pun!) and possible floundering on the rocks.

Sailing their own boat.

When the training is for higher level stuff, such as Diplomas in Training & Assessment or Business, we need to not just equip our learners with knowledge and skills, but with the ability to then develop their own knowledge and skills.

They need to be able to sail their own boat.

In this instance, we need to be willing to still ask the same question, and we need to be prepared to say “no” when they are not doing what they need to do to get to the destination.

No matter how confident they might feel steering their own boat, if we know that they are not going to get to the right destination then it is critical for us to say “no”.   And it is best to not leave it too late.

For the sooner we can say “no”, the simpler and easier will be the correction we can make.  The longer we leave it, the bigger will be the ultimate adjustment.

The challenge and the responsibility.

This is the challenge.  Learners who are able to sail their own boats with some confidence may not appreciate hearing “no”.  They may also not appreciate that many small corrections will remove the need for major correction later; after all, they do not know what they do not know.

But it is up to us to ensure that they stay on course.

It is our job to be prepared to say “no” to keep us heading in the right direction, for the alternative is for us both to flounder on the rocks.