Leadership & Training

JS Tip 71: From the Training the Workforce Workshops: Building a Safe Environment

Dr. Malcolm Knowles, known as “The Father of Adult Education,” identified one of the keys to successful training as “Build a safe environment.” Make it easy for the participants to participate. To make comments.

Every one of us remembers the dreadful moment when, in the fifth grade, we’d shoot our hand skyward and shout “Pick me! Pick me! I know the answer!” The teacher would call on us, we’d shout our answer, and the teacher would pause, roll her eyes, and say, “Wrong!”

Humiliation. Disgrace. All in front of the little red-haired girl.

Because of that humiliation and disgrace, you vowed never to participate in class again. “No participation, no risk,” you thought. You folded your arms across your chest and leaned back in your chair.

Adult learners are reluctant to participant in an unsafe environment. (They remember their experience from the fifth grade.) You, as the trainer, can build a safe environment.

Use the A-P-C Method to Call on Participants. “Ask” the question. “Pause.” As you pause, look around the room. Notice who’s smiling, nodding, and leaning forward in the seat. “Call” on those people. Don’t call on those hiding their eyes, curling up in a ball, and crawling under the seat. Hint: They don’t want to participate.

Encourage good answers. “Yes!” “Excellent!” “Good answer!” Participants bloom with the recognition. Many of our teachers draw stars on the participants’ name tents. “Every once in a while, someone in the room will say something so good, so profound, that they get a reward.”

Give credit. If a participant gives you an answer you don’t understand (and this will happen often), ask them to keep going, “Keep going.” “Tell us some more.”

 

 

From the Training the Workforce Workshops: Building a Safe Environment

Every one of us remembers the dreadful moment when, in the fifth grade, we shot our hand skyward and shouted “Pick me! Pick me! I know the answer!” The teacher called on us, we responded, and the teacher paused, rolled her eyes, and said, “Wrong!”

Humiliation. Disgrace. All in front of the little red-haired girl.

Because of that humiliation, we vowed never to participate in class again. “No participation, no risk,” we thought. We folded our arms across our chest and leaned back in our chair.

Adult learners are reluctant to participate in an unsafe environment. (They remember their experience from the fifth grade.) You, as the trainer, can build a safe environment.

Use the A-P-C Method to Call on Participants. “Ask” the question. “Pause,” and as you pause, look around the room. Read the body language. Notice who’s smiling, nodding, and leaning forward. “Call” on those people. Hint: They want to participate.

Don’t call on those hiding their eyes, curling into a ball, and crawling under the seat. Hint: They don’t want to participate.

Encourage good answers. “Yes!” “Excellent!” “Good answer!” Draw stars on the participants’ name tents: “Every once in a while, someone in the room will say something so good, so profound, that they get a reward.” Participants bloom with the recognition.

Give credit. Remember what the participants have said, and when an opportunity arises, give credit to their contributions: “Remember Julie’s experience at the Chevrolet dealership? How does this new discussion support what she said?” Give the participants ownership in the discussion.

Your task is to build a safe environment. Tell us your experiences (good or bad). We love this stuff.