Instruct And Ingrain

Instruct And Ingrain

In the course of a Training session, the Facilitator can razzle and dazzle Trainees, but the litmus test truly lies in the amount of relevant learning imparted to the participants.


Raman, a senior Sales Trainer in a well-known Insurance company, was adept at introducing sales techniques to participants. But his Training sessions were anything but easy. He would threaten, cajole, persuade, influence, and do whatever it takes for participants to learn how to sell.


Being sincere and straightforward, Raman was unaware of the methods to sugar coat his feedback style. At times, it was brutal and hurtful. During roleplays, selling pens and thereafter policies, Sanjay, an eager beaver participant, could not cope up with Raman’s expectations. Sanjay was constantly at the receiving end for being too subtle or in your face, too slow or too fast, sounding scripted or rudderless. One day, the regular run-ins with Raman became a showdown, and Sanjay decided to throw in the towel and explore opportunities outside the insurance company.


Helping adults learn a skill or behaviour is difficult. It is one thing to dazzle participants with your style and knowledge, and quite another to leave behind instructions, which will help the participants, and in turn, your organisation with impeccable competencies. Let us see what Trainers such as Raman do to ensure seamless absorption of learning.


Be Participatory


Other than a few liberated souls, most of us are driven by our egos. We love to be in the centre of things that concern us. So, to make the sessions instructive, involve the participants. Seek out inputs, go round robin if need be; form groups for discussions, compare and contrast ideas coming from participants, pause and check for understanding and so on and so forth. The seasoned facilitator may ensure that it is her ideas which reign supreme, but she will do so with such finesse that participants will assume it to be their very idea.


This helps in ownership and internalisation of the knowledge being imparted.


Please REACT – Relax, Encourage, Accept, Communicate, Take Control


For learning to flow, there are a few conditions which act as catalysts. The acronym REACT sums it well.


Relax: The ambience should be Relaxed and informal, which is conducive to letting your creative juices flow


Encourage: Encourage participation. Without group participation, there is no collective learning. Hence everyone should be encouraged to contribute, the sort of experiences participants share is at times breath-taking and the point is to leverage the learning available in the room.


Accept: Accept participants where they are. Your job is to move them, irrespective of where they are. Do not scoff if they are behind the average, or adore, if they are ahead.


Communicate: Communication is free and do not let it to be hampered. The first condition will help ensure that communication is open and energetic.


Take Control: Lastly, while you allow the group to open up and be free, you would still need to facilitate to ensure that the group stays within the confines of the scope of learning, so Take Control. Most commonly, there is a tendency to stray and needs to be guarded against.


Evoke your own style


Learning happens best when all the focus in the classroom is on learning and not distracted in other directions. Facilitators, often tend to attract attention to themselves. This tends to digress from the core learning that needs to happen, while every minute is precious. Hence be self-effacing but not impersonal and bring forth relentless focus on the subject. Share your stories, life lessons, but only to the extent that it benefits the participants to learn the subject. Be organised, so as not to waste time. This allows you to give more time to uphold the learning.


Learning Light


Be it a behavioural topic or a hard skill, learning can be complicated, boring, discouraging. One way to keep it light and not a burden is to break the topic into digestible takeaways; reduce some of the major points into keywords or phrases. Bring up comparisons and analogies, especially ones that resonate with the audience. For example, if we wish to refer to a movie in India, use an example from Bollywood rather than Hollywood. At times, unexpectedly interrupt the session and ask a question. It helps in breaking the state and also checks the alertness as well as the understanding of the participants; whether they are going along with the Facilitator.


Some more sound techniques


Time is at a premium and much of it is saved if the directions in activities are crystal clear. Learners often learn by trial and error. Catch them doing the right thing. As Ken Blanchard says, catching people doing right is very motivating, while the opposite, catching people doing something wrong evokes fear, which is the enemy of learning.


Learning is largely enabled if the facilitator provides direct feedback to a group or individuals. Often, the urge is to save it for the end of the session, however, it is better delivered impromptu. It is a simple but a very effective way to correct behaviour and wrong practices.


Lastly, while it may not be possible during the session, but coach participants on the right practice. Learning sessions are the best forum to initiate a Coaching relationship and then sustain it even after the session, if possible. One to one Coaching is perhaps the best way to bring about radical shifts in our practices.


Meanwhile, Raman and Sanjay’s Saga


Sanjay left the company in a huff. But in the new Sales organisation, there was no Raman, hence no formal Sales Training. The employees were expected to know their job. After a hurried Induction and introduction to their CRM tool, Sanjay found himself in the field. He wanted more direction, more support, but that was not to be. So, he remembered some of the Techniques that were taught by Raman.


♦ Make your product knowledge rock solid.


♦ Be Confident


♦ Create urgency to buy


♦ Be strong with rebuttals, as and when necessary


He did all that had been drilled into him.


Gradually, Sanjay found he was cracking many sales deals, using what he had learned from Raman. He could not help feel a sneaking admiration and gratitude for Raman. However, it was when he was recognised with the Salesman of the Year Award, he decided to connect with Raman again and say Thank You. Raman had been a very tough Trainer, but a successful Trainer who had allowed the learning to flow from the Trainer to the participants and enable them to deliver.


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Dipankar Das is the author of Cracking the CSAT Code at the Call Centre. He has worked in diverse organisations, including Genpact, Concentrix and also for the Tatas. He is currently the Vice President and Global Head of Skill Development at iSON Experiences


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