Here are our top tips on dealing with common challenges that can arise when training a group:
If you have a demotivated group:
- Pace the group before leading
- Be honest and address the issue so that you can find a way through it together.
- Have the group focus on the things that they can control and not the things that may be demotivating them and that they cannot address right now.
- Your job it to ‘get them in the room’ and to keep them there.
- Ensure you use humour and lightness of touch early on, and ask for ideas and involve the participants in the decision-making about how you deliver the session.
- Provide a challenge.
For hostility and negativity:
- Think about what you can control.
- Move them into groups and identify interferences to learning and asking groups to suggest solutions.
- Suggest a quick break and check-in with a small number.
- In extreme circumstances abandon the session.
For people in a hurry:
- Pace them first by recognising and acknowledging that time is an issue.
- Avoid a lengthy set-up as this will frustrate some.
- Focus on the key messages – what will really make a difference?
- Ask yourself whether the whole group is in a hurry or just certain individuals.
- If necessary agree shorter breaks and timescales
Not focussing/use of mobiles or Blackberries
- Set guidelines at the start so that you have boundaries to work with.
- If appropriate, use a fining system (for charity!) if a mobile phone goes off or encourage the group to clap if a mobile sounds to send a clear signal but in a humorous way.
- Call people on it and ask them to stop, or have more regular breaks so that participants can check-in on their mail and any calls
Groups not focussing on the task when put into break-out groups
We have seen trainers either hover too long with a break-out group, or who dive in and contribute themselves to the problem solving. Neither of these approaches works well. It is best to be some distance away from the break-out groups and just check-in on them occasionally. If groups are not focussing on the task revisit it either back in the session or in the break. Focus on the objective and ensure you have set the right expectations.