How to Work With Trainees and Their Mixed Motivations

indian womanAs a trainer in time management it’s a guarantee: you will have trainees who have no interest in being in your classroom. They are there because were sent by their manager, and had no interest in coming… until they were ordered to attend.

You have a problem at the very start – how do you nullify their effect on other participants, at the very least, and maybe get them engaged in the materials, at the very most?

The answer is simple – your course must powerfully address their self-interests at the very beginning.

Sure, their bosses wants them to be more productive and to get more work from them. They also want them to get to work on time, and provide deliverables on a set schedule.

But that’s not going to get them engaged in your program, especially if they believe that they are already being maxed out, and that their boss is being unreasonable – wanting blood from a stone.

You’ll need to address their more basic needs, such as:
– the pressure they are getting from their boss to improve and how to deal with it effectively
– the areas of their life that are out of balance right now (weight, relationships, spirituality, personal time, etc.)
– where they are experiencing the symptoms of having a system that’s not keeping up with their lives
– how to deal with the fact that the demands on their life are increasing all the time
– how to cope with information overload
– how to stop feeling dissatisfied at the end of each day that so little got done
– how to keep up with other people in the office and do better than them
– how to become the last person they’d consider letting go because you are so productive
– how to avoid ruining your reputation by not delivering
– how to have an uncluttered office

It doesn’t matter which angle you take, you must spend enough time in the training to capture the imagination of a critical mass of attendees. If you do that, then the unwilling may give you enough space to work magic with the other attendees.

In my training, I make sure to have paired activities so that people can work with each other, in order help each other.  I have noticed that it’s hard to remain resistant when you have the opportunity to help others who are serious about getting all that they can from the learning opportunity.

These are just a few the approaches I use – do you have ideas for others?

Lack of Time vs. Lack of Skill

Laptop Demo 1As time advisers, one of the essential transformations we must make for our trainees and clients is to shift them from thinking that they don’t have enough time, to the point where they realize they don’t have enough skill.

Many professionals get to the point early in their careers where they start to parrot the same complaint that everyone shares: “I don’t have enough time.” It’s an early warning sign that something is awry, but it’s not necessarily a cry for help.

At the very least it’s an indication of a mismatch – the client has more time demands flowing through their lives than they can manage. They are experiencing some of the symptoms they can’t readily address, such as a feeling of constant rushing or finding themselves unable to keep all their promises.

They don’t know what to do, so in their desperation they blame God / The Universe / Mother Nature for not granting them super-magical powers: an ability to turn 24 hours into 25.

Of course, deep down, they know that this is impossible, yet they still complain. As coaches, it’s important to understand why.

In the moment they indulge in the complaint, they are able to release some of their frustration. That’s a good feeling. However, if they persist then you should be suspicious. They might be using the complaint as a way to gain sympathy and agreement from others. They are running a scam in which they share negativity in order to get people on their side. After all, it’s better to feel miserable with others than it is to feel miserable alone.

It also feels good to have something/someone to blame. Unfortunately, it all carries with it a nasty undertone: they are actually avoiding responsibility. As a result they don’t take effective action and this renders them un-clientable and uncoachable.

There are a few cases in which I’m willing to work with a client on this particular way of being, but usually I simply let them go in the hope that they’ll come to see that there’s ultimately no benefit from continuing that vein.

While most of us have this complaint at some point in life, a few get to the point where we are ready to look beyond Mother Nature’s “shortcomings” to some lasting solutions. A client who is ready has an inkling that there’s something they are either not doing right, or could do better. They are usually unable to see it clearly on their own, but they have at least located the source of the solution.

Once they are ready to enter a learning relationship, I recommend that you deliver a powerful message near the start of your work with them: they aren’t doing anything “wrong.” It’s just that the life they are now living has outgrown the system they self-created to deal with all the demands on their time.

Now, it’s time to upgrade their skills and you can help them make the transition from their current system to one that is more suited to their current goals.

As a time adviser it’s important to know the difference between a prospect who is complaining, and avoiding responsibility and one who is ready to be a client.