We live in a turbulent time where many of us update their knowledge weekly to be more productive and become more competitive towards other people on the job scene. While we need to gain knowledge, we also need good teachers to teach us. Do not get me wrong – I am not against leaders and coaches, but here I talk about these trainers and teachers who came from nowhere, to teach us specific knowledge and skills we do not possess. From the sea of pieces of training, we need to choose carefully, because, no matter the popularity, these same trainers and teachers rate their knowledge so high, that in some cases you may pay a fee for a course that is similar to an MBA module. And in these courses, you learn “the basics” by doing things you will never do in your real-world responsibilities.
But what is more important is that we need to choose between the teachers and trainers, only based on their reputation online. Does this sound scary for you? If not, then you are on the one half of humanity. But for me, this is scary and unproductive.
Let me give you an example:
At the beginning of 2020, I have had to choose a course for improving my financial skills and understandings, because I wanted to contribute to a different and much higher level to my company’s success. Walking through 17 different choices I evaluated the program, the duration of the course, the approach (theoretical or practical), the trainer’s history, etc. And that helped me to shrink the list of possible choices to three. After having this shortlist, I tried to further continue with the shrinking exercise, to make the best choice. But what I did not evaluate was the trainer’s approach to the groups. I never asked the question how is this trainer, or teacher teaching? And missing that caused a lot of discomfort for me after that trough the whole course. And only because I am introverted, but the guy who led the course was considering everyone on the course would be a type of extroverts.
What I missed while trying to learn a new skill was the most important element – the interaction between me and the trainer.
After the course finished, I gave my feedback and received an impolite answer from the organizer that his success with 12000+ trained people only shows that I am not adaptable, but his approach is OK.
While I also teach others on several topics, I took this information and started analyzing how to not make the same mistake again for me, or make others feel discomfort during my training session. While doing this exercise I formulated several principles that were implemented in me and my colleagues from work experience as trainers. This helped us to improve the percentage of satisfaction from our internal pieces of training with more than 26% for less than 3 months. After this experiment, I have expanded this approach with some student groups from two universities I am teaching for and the feedback was more than positive from 98% of the people.
Here are the principles I have established for me and others around me:
Prepare before you need to start
Knowing your audience is always helpful. But what many trainers do is to become familiar with the roles and experience participants in their activities help. There is nothing wrong with having this information, it is helpful when you structure your training program and write your milestones. But still, if you want to be flexible and answer the whole group’s expectations you will need to research people’s preferred style of thinking and acting around others. While extroverts like to be pushed to their limits and feel comfortable when discussing and yelling on the topics, the introverts prefer a calmer and not so pushy approach. They need time to think, analyze, and come out with the decision they see as a right.
Structure the training for both – introverts and extroverts
I have been on many pieces of training and what I noticed is that the bigger part of them is constructed for introverts. Trainers often focus on asking and pointing for participation. This may work for an extrovert, but the introvert will not feel comfortable if he or she is pointed to participate. The one unconscious mistake trainers are making when calling training participants names to include them on a discussion started with a topic. Here extroverts may think “Great, another chance to show me in front of others”, but the introverts do not feel It that way. The thought that goes in their mind is often something like “I know it, but can you please stop pointing. I don’t feel comfortable to be pointed as a center of discussion.”
While missing this part, the trainer often makes a huge mistake, focusing only on the part of the group that is extroverts, calling them “active”, and pushing away the other group – of the introverts, whose contribution may even be more valuable for the training if managed the right way.
While trying to structure the training for both groups the trainer will need to consider some of the characteristics of both groups:
- Quite an environment to concentrate
- Take enough time to create the best decision
- Writing instead of talking in front of others
But also, introverts do not like:
- Crowd around them
- Group work where they can be pushed from time and others
In opposite, extroverts like:
- Talk about questions and problems for the sake of the discussion
- Thrive around people
- To take risky decisions, without focusing much on details
- Flexibility and use it to adapt to different environments to show they are present everywhere
What extroverts do not like is:
- Being alone
- Work in silos
- Take time to think in deep on their internal world
- Focus too much on details
- Analyze in deep their behavior
We don’t have pure introverts or extroverts, but for a teacher or trainer, to deliver a successful lesson or training he or she needs to use these characteristics and build around them the training material that is going to be used.
Divide into non-formal groups
You want to teach people. Then you need to ensure they feel comfortable. Every teacher or trainer must focus on dividing the content he or she is going to offer to suit both groups. That may mean to create different tasks and exercises leading to the same final result, or even dividing the whole group into 2 small groups and establishing rules for work in each group that allow people to show their full potential in the learning process. You will need an equivalent result at the end of the process, but who said that you will have to reach it by only using the same approach with all participants.
Get a co-teacher/co-trainer
While trying to show how good at managing groups and discussion they are, many teachers or trainers just fail because they need to spread their attention across everyone. Look at the school classes. In one class there are two major groups of students.
The highly engaged group is the one who actively participates in the activities, listens carefully, and knows the answers. This group is often called nerds. But these are the students that are OK with the teacher or the trainer approach. The other group of students is full of people who are not interested, partly or fully disengaged. These are often the ones who cause trouble during classes or after that. In traditional education and training, these people are often punished with something or excluded from the systems. And this all happens because the teacher or the trainer sustains only “one working approach”. It is the same with adult training. If you want to be successful you need to think of the group as one whole element with all its specifics. To be more productive when teaching or training some skills, you will need to focus on that part that answers in full to your internal attitude and approach and find someone who can help you grow the other part of the room.
Ensure flexibility on the approach used
Finding someone to help you is not enough. You will need to empower this co-teacher or co-trainer to make the practical part the way he or she sees it and not the way you see it. Yes, there is this part where everyone needs to get familiar with the theory, but after that part, you will need to let go and ensure freedom and flexibility by sustaining only one element – the result. Going straight away with the one” winning approach” you have built and used with several groups “successfully” is a sign for failure. People are different and introverts and extroverts differ in their groups. There is a strong need that the teacher or trainer uses flexible and adaptable to people approach, instead of trying to make people adapt to the approach used.
Teaching yourself in different areas is sometimes hard to achieve. But teaching or training others can become mission impossible if you focus only on your approach and expectations. What many trainers and teachers must finally learn is that the adequate training that adds value for both – the trainer/teacher and the trained person is the one that can be adapted to all the personal specifics that occur in the process of upgrading knowledge and skills, no matter yours or someone else. And that is the only winning approach.