Tip #761: The HOW is Important

businessman discussing statistics

“A good teacher…is understanding of needs and challenges and gives tools to help other people succeed.” Justin Trudeau

As facilitative trainers, it is our responsibility to help our participants discover WHAT to do in certain types of situations and WHEN and WHY it is important. But our most significant task is to help them discover HOW to implement their new knowledge and skills.

For example, we can provide a checklist for how to conduct a meeting that indicates the do’s and don’ts. If one of the items on the checklist is “ensure no one dominates the conversation,” our participants need to know HOW to do that. Should they sit on the offending dominators, tell them to shut up, ask them to leave the room, or gag them? Of course not.

But what are the alternatives? They could learn to say: ”I appreciate your enthusiasm. At this point, let’s let others share their opinions.” They could anticipate the problem and make sure they have a written agenda with time frames, so they have tacit permission to interrupt a dominator and limit discussion. These are two suggestions for HOW to do it  that can start the participants on their own path to discover other options.

We also should, wherever possible, invest HOW with enough emotional impact to make it memorable enough so the participants will remember. For example, we can suggest HOW managers can help employees discover that even the most mundane jobs have an enormous impact. Take restaurant dishwashers. Ask participants what they look at first when they sit down at a restaurant. The answer is always the cutlery and the glasses. If these are dirty, it doesn’t matter how posh the restaurant is. The participants would not want to stay for a meal.

Now the dish washers can go to their work with pride- and the participants have been emotionally engaged because they’ve experienced the situation themselves at one point or another.

Or a manager could tell the story of the worker on an assembly line who solders a wire without realizing until later that this wire is part of an anti-lock brake that may have been the one to save that worker’s families’ lives in a near car crash. Believe that this worker now recognizes the importance of her job and the consequences if the job is done poorly.

Once their emotional response is tapped, the manager can ask employees to describe why their own jobs are significant. That’s HOW it’s done.

It’s not enough to tell participants WHAT rules they should follow or WHAT they should do. Our job is to help our participants fill their tool bags with a variety of potential responses and solutions, keeping in mind that HOW is just as important as WHAT, WHEN and WHY.

May your learning be sweet.


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