Parents, teachers, and managers – “helping persons” frequently ask how to motivate others more effectively. The philosophy and skill of encouragement are a means both of increasing motivation…
How do you train soft skills trainers remotely? by Kirilka Angelova
Answer by Kirilka Angelova:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where—so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation. “Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Contracting may be used by a(facilitator ,therapist, consultant, leader, and so on) to accomplish certain goals:
1. To clarify and define the relationship between theand the client (the person or organization seeking the trainer’s services); and/or
2. To clarify with a client where the client is presently, where he or she would like to be (goals and objectives), and alternative ways (strategies) for getting there.
In the first case, contracting is used as a process to explore and define the relationship between the trainer and the client. The client’s wants and needs for services are detailed along with the range of services that the trainer is willing and able to provide. This period is a time of deciding (1) what the various parties involved want from each other, (2) whether they have the ability and resources to provide what is wanted from the relationship, and (3) whether they are willing to enter into the relationship.
In the second case, contracting is a specific tool that the trainer can use with a client to assist the client in evaluating the present situation (A), the desired position (B), and how to get to the desired position. Holloway and Holloway’s (1973) contracting model depicts the client’s present and desired positions and the decision that the client needs to make in order to move from one to the other. The “decision” can be seen as the choice of a strategy (strategies) that will accomplish the movement from A to B.
The trainer can understand contracting both as a process and as a framework that may be used (1) to establish a relationship with the client and to set mutual goals and objectives and (2) as a specific technique to involve the client actively in detailing A and B and the possible strategies for moving from A to B. This latter use encourages the client to take active responsibility for his or her present condition and future state.
Contracting as a Process
Contracting can be seen as a dynamic process along a time line, as opposed to a single event. Theand client begin with a “directional” contract, part of which may include the intent to recycle the contract: “In six weeks we will review the contract and update it.” Thompson (1974, p. 31) refers to “process contracting” and states that “the original ‘contract’ can be an agreement to work together to progressively define the relationship and to communicate desired ‘changes’ to one another as each party sees more clearly the development of its interests.” Part of contracting as a process is defining the relationship; one vital aspect of this is keeping the other parties involved in the contract explicitly informed of any changes.
Contracting as a Tool
Contracting is also a useful tool that can be used at various levels. At one level, the intrapersonal, an individual experiencing an inner conflict may use the model as an aid in deciding on strategies that will result in clarifying and eliminating the conflict.
A second level of contracting involves two or more people. For example, in a group setting, one person may feel that she dominates the discussion and may make a contract with other members of the group that (1) they will tell her when they experience her as dominating the discussion and that (2) she will check with them when she experiences herself as dominating the discussion. A third level of contracting may be between the facilitator and the client, group, or organization. In this case, contracting may involve specifying issues such as time commitments, finances involved, or group-maintenance issues.
TWO APPROACHES TO CONTRACTING
Two general approaches to contracting can be useful as guidelines. The first approach concentrates on establishing the relationship between the client and the trainer. The second approach attends to defining the relationship between the client and the problem. In this approach, the trainer assists the client in moving from A to B. Although there is a great deal of overlap between these two approaches, they are presented separately. Depending on the setting, the facilitator may find one approach or the other more useful.
Negotiating the Relationship
A basic structure for using contracting incan be used for negotiating roles, expectations, and mutual benefits in nontherapy settings as well. There are four requirements for this negotiation: (1) mutual consent, (2) valid consideration, (3) competency, and (4) lawful object.
Mutual consent means that both parties have an adequate understanding of the agreement. What both want and expect from the relationship should be clearly detailed. Thetrainer needs to provide the client with possible time involvements, financial costs, courses of action, methods that may be used, expectations, risks involved, and so on. The client provides the trainer with information concerning expectations, the nature of the problem, objectives, people to be involved, time commitments, and so on. It is important that both the client and the facilitator give each other sufficient information so that both will be able to make informed decisions. The three ingredients of valid information, commitment, and free choice are necessary considerations.
Valid consideration involves an explicit statement of the benefits that each party to the contract will confer on the other. Benefits for the trainer might include money, additional experience, enhanced reputation, or publishable material. For the client, they might mean new information, the alleviation of the problem, or training.
Competency concerns the ability of the parties to enter into the relationship. For the trainer, the question is whether he or she has the competencies and the background to do what the client is requesting. For the client, competency may relate to his or her authority to enter into an agreement. Does the client have the position and the sanction of the organization to enter into such an agreement?
Lawful object requires very simply that what both parties are agreeing to is legal.
With the framework of these requirements, a checklist of questions can be provided for the facilitator and the client in order to explore their relationship.
What are the time requirements?
What are the financial costs involved?
Are there any risks that the client/trainer should be aware of?
Who will be involved?
What are the expectations of the trainer?
Are there any ethical concerns involved?
What methods might the trainer use?
If there is research involved, how will the information be used?
What will the client pay the ftrainer?
Are there rewards other than financial ones? If so, what?
What rewards will the facilitator provide for the client?
Is the trainer competent to do what the client is asking? What kinds
of backup services are available?
Is the client in a position to enter into the contract?
Does he or she have the authority to do so?
Is the agreement legal?
Clarifying Goals and Strategies
In the second approach, contracting focuses on the client and the “problem.” This approach asks: (1) What are the client’s wants? (2) What is the client willing to do to meet these wants? (3) What are the client’s criteria for success? (4) What benefits does the client gain on completing the contract?
Determining the client’s wants involves a clarification of both the present situation and future goals and objectives. The more specific and behavioral the terms of the descriptions are, the easier it is to determine whether and to what extent they have been met. Sometimes the client may feel totally lacking in goals or objectives. In this case the first “want” in this first step may be to “determine goals.”
To find out what the client is willing to do to meet his or her wants involves strategies and action plans. There may be many ways of moving from A to B, and part of this step is weighing the various alternatives. Again, it is important that the answer to this question be expressed in the most specific, behavioral, and measurable terms possible.
Criteria for success are essential in order to evaluate results; and, in order to determine whether the criteria have been satisfied and to what extent, the criteria must be specific.
The question of benefits is linked to motivation. If the client completes the contract successfully, what will that mean to him or her? Will the client think differently? act differently? feel differently? have more income? Are these outcomes pleasing?
This approach, focusing on the client and the problem, can provide the facilitator with a frame of reference. Although the questions are presented sequentially, they are interrelated; and in practice the facilitator may experience a good deal of overlap. Both the facilitator and the client also need to be aware that the contract may be recycled at any time.
ADVANTAGES TO CONTRACTING
Contracting has advantages on many levels. First, within the contracting process, the client’s integrity and autonomy are respected. The first approach emphasizes how important it is for the facilitator and the client to “level” with each other. Both need to reveal hidden agendas, and both are held responsible for their actions.
Second, and closely related, contracting may clarify the “helpee-helper” syndrome, a relationship filled with pitfalls. The charismatic helper may leave the client floating on a magic cloud but with no understanding for self-help when the cloud disappears. The “helpless” client may seduce the facilitator into solving the problem and then discount the solution with “Yes, but…” . Contracting avoids some of these pitfalls by asking the parties to level with each other and to state expectations clearly.
A third advantage to contracting is that it can function to detect and/or eliminate latent conflict at an early stage. The emphasis on clear understanding helps here, as well as the recycling points built into the process. Contracting can also be used as a specific tool for controlling or managing conflict.
The Cat’s answer to Alice provides an excellent model for contracting: Which way you go depends on where you want to go. Contracting is a tool and a process that can help people find answers to where they are, where they want to go, and how to get there
There is a growing generational culture gap appearing in today’s workforce, and it is becoming increasingly apparent in the world of education and training. 45 percent of today’s workforce is under the age of 40. And as these young “millennial workers” show up for corporate training programs, who do they find teaching the programs? Trainers from their parents’ generation?
Now, there are younger trainers out there. But still, the chances are quite high that the majority of corporate training decision makers and senior trainers are from the Baby Boomer generation. And they certainly influence the design and, to a great extent, the delivery style of a major portion of corporate training.
Do Generational Differences Matter?
Your first response to this situation may be something like, “So what?” Is it really such a big deal that there is this generation gap between trainers and trainees? In fact, isn’t that the way it has always been? Those doing the teaching are older, and supposedly wiser, than those receiving the training? The answer of course is “yes, but.” Yes, in general, there has often been an age difference between those teaching and those being taught, especially when we are young. But, as adults, we often find ourselves in learning situations where the age differences lessenss doesn’t make any sense?
As the number of younger learners increases in the workplace classroom, designing and delivering training will have to be changed, updated, and, occasionally, overhauled entirely in order to be effective with the younger generations.
And I’m not talking about changing generational reference points and outdated examples, although these are important. I’m talking about addressing generational differences in learning styles and overall approaches to learning—perhaps even generational differences in cognitive development. Although I am Millennial generation (born 1982) our learning came through lectures and texts with an occasional opportunity to do something. We looked to gurus and subject-matter experts to tell us the answers—or at least to provide insights.
Teaching methods have changed dramatically over the past years also. If the last time you were in a public school classroom was well before 1980, or even 1990, check things out. The look, style, and approaches to learning have changed. Many young people from the emerging generations grew up with learning approaches that used teamwork and collaboration. They took part in engaged learning projects. They learned to use critical thinking skills. They thrived in classrooms with learning pods and subject corners and individualized options… the Millennial Generation, born between 1981 and 2000, grew up learning to learn …Their learning encounters were reinforced with sound and color and humor. .
So what’s next?
Some trainers and designers of training settled into a very organized, linear approach to training and training design—structured, step-by-step, lecture-dominated, text-oriented, criterion-referenced, and often more focused on the trainer than on the learner. What if all your group is under 30 years ? Are you going to use the same approach? Me personally, I am changing the styles always. And really the core of my design is with who i am going to work 🙂
Here are few tips and taps
Take the “set up” of a training program, for example. If you’ve been doing training as I have for the past ten years, the first 30 minutes of your program may be carefully devoted to establishing a good training climate—welcoming participants, making introductory remarks, presenting an overview of the class and its purpose and goals, covering housekeeping issues, and, of course, introducing yourself and then having the participants meet one another (preferably in a short, clever activity). All of this is done at an energetic, but evenly paced tempo—accompanied by the appropriate distribution of three-ring binders and a sprinkling of overhead transparencies or colorful slides.
This approach to setting a good learning climate was established years ago, probably to deal with reluctant participants, many of whom were not happy about attending training. The idea behind the approach may have been to allay participant fears, establish the credentials of the presenter, reassure participants of the value of the course content, and put class members at ease with one another. These are important to do, and the way in which we do them may be very reassuring to older participants; but to many younger participants, it is frustratingly slow and seems quite unnecessary.
I do not want to suggest that any one way of conducting a program is better than any other, nor am I suggesting that participants will only respond to one type and not another. I am suggesting, however, that trainers of a certain age may want to consider using different types of design and delivery techniques now and then, particularly in programs that contain a large number of younger learners.
Five Key Millennial Generation Needs
After reading and researching what has been written about the different generations, after conducting a number of focus groups and brainstorming sessions with younger learners, and after numerous fact-finding junkets into Millennial culture, I would like to propose five key Millennial needs that can be easily addressed in the design and delivery of almost any training program to make it more appealing to younger learners. Think of these five needs, or five factors, as antidotes to five unfortunate habits of well-meaning Boomer trainers:
Boomer Habits Millennial Needs
Use telling, text-oriented methods Involve to solve
Take a linear approach Offer options
Use a leisurely, even pace Pick up the pace
Apply a trainer-focused style Link to the learner
Employ a prudent amount of fun Turn up the fun factor
So How TO Do It?
Start your training with a bang. Decrease the amount of telling and increase the amount of doing. Make the learning environment pleasant and attractive. Use rewards and incentives. Use fast, action-based games and competitive activities. But most importantly, have lots of interaction and involvement.
Design and use games that address the five factors presented in this article. Make your games fast-paced. Offer options and choices throughout games and activities. Involve your players in finding solutions and solving problems. Try to use great graphics and include sound and movement. Whenever possible, make use of technology. Include lots of rewards and punishments. And don’t be afraid to make use of fantasy and imagination.
Where to Begin?
Take a quick look at the various classes you are teaching. Which ones have the largest enrollments of younger learners? Choose one or two and begin making a few alterations. Or choose a program that needs a real shot in the arm and design a new “<Millennial-friendly” game or activity to use at the very beginning of the program.
Find a couple of Millennial colleagues and discuss some of the ideas and suggestions in this article. See what they think. Audit each other’s programs and exchange feedback and ideas. Make some changes. Try out some new approaches. See what happens.
As one younger learner I know suggested, “Don’t make learning so serious. Make it fun. Make it comfortable. Have lots of food and drinks. And if I have to sit there for a long time, how about a sofa?”
Have a great Monday.
As you may know or you may not know I am soft skills trainer. And as you know or you may don’t know soft skills – are life skills 🙂
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