Being an international trainer

16 November 2016

My friend Catalina asked me how is it to be an international trainer… or write something about it 🙂 so my dear, here are a few thoughts about this experience.

It is like.. well, how should I put it? Imagine yourself eating the same dish every day, at all meals for a long period… how is it?  Now picture yourself in front of a famous international restaurant, close your eyes and make the first step inside hear the noises, everybody wants something fast, different names are called for the dishes ordered your ears are assaulted with different requests in many languages. Now smell it, do you feel the abundance of incents? Taste it, feel the sensations when you taste each culture? Now open your eyes, do you see the colors of your dish?  They are perfectly harmonized with their environment so look around to see the environment in which they perform… how is it? Each dish in front of you is a trainee, is a unique person waiting to be discovered and pushed one step forward on the ladder of their evolution. You can only push, they have to assume the responsibility to climb.

As you pay attention to each dish in an haute cuisine restaurant you need to pay attention to each participant in your class. “It is all about them” one of my mentors said, I will add “It’s all about each one of them!”.  Every delegate comes with its own motivation and unique objectives, and they come hoping to get something useful from you… that’s what you need to deliver. Something they can use in their daily job and make them better.

Being an international trainer means to see lots of behaviors and various people with a large diversity of needs. You need to send a specific message to each of them. Come back in my haute cuisine restaurant, this time in the kitchen, feel the dish in front you: what wine would serve with it to bring its potential to the maximum? It all depends on what you have on the plate, on what the chef say you have and what you feel you have. Take that feeling and choose the best possible message for that person in front of you. The trainer’s/facilitator’s message needs to be in accordance with the trainees real needs. So you have to listen! You listen to the stakeholder who tells you what you have on the plate and what would he want to taste like in the end, you listen to the person in front of you to hear what he/she wants to get from you and you feel that person and listen to your instinct on what he/she really needs. Give them what they really need and you have pushed them one step forward.

What I learned in all these years of international training delivery is to listen to people and do my best to give them what they really need. This is why there are no identical trainings. The training material may change overnight, the rhythm may change every hour depending on the context in which your trainees perform.  

It is very important how you construct the message. It has to be positive, encouraging, achievable and most of all easy to receive by the delegates.  Oh please do not forget the “How to put it in practice”. This is a key element of the message. If you have a theoretical training and you do not tell them how to put it in practice it’s all for nothing. The next day after your training, they have to be able to apply in practice that information. That’s the key of a successful training.

But a good wine, especially an old one, changes the taste while exposed to the air. So the trainee may change his/hers objectives when you expose them for a long time (hours, days) to the information you deliver. So you need to pay attention, to see that, or feel them and recalibrate the message according to the new objectives. It is ok for them to change objectives, it means they absorb your information and they realize they need something else. Your information was useful so far, they processed it, evolved, and realized they need a different flavor. Did you ever wonder why the waiter asks you to taste the wine even if you ordered it? Once you get the taste you may refine your objective. The waiter opens another bottle; the trainer transmits different information, which is much closer to the trainee’s taste. That means the trainer needs to go back to listen to the delegate again… it is an iterative process, an agile process.

This is the key element I learned by being exposed to an international environment. The objectives change even if you deliver the same training so you need to constantly readjust and transmit the right message to these people. Transmit the right message and transmit the message right. Testing is context dependent, principle 6 of ISTQB, and so is training… and you need to adapt to the context in that country, that company and to those specific people. 

But how to put it into practice?  Before each training session ask the stakeholder what would they like to achieve, at the beginning of the training ask each trainee what are his/her objectives for this training. Allow them to speak freely for a few minutes so you have the time to feel them. Tip: write down each individual objective! Why? Because in the first day you need to embed messages of interest to cover each objective.  Give essential information for each one of them according to the requested objective, add essential information what you feel each one really needs. It is enough to be a phrase or two which “accidentally” slips out. Then give it 24 hours to be digested. Once this time is passed ask in private, one on one, each delegate if he/she feels to be closer to achieve the stated objective. At that moment you listen: they will tell you if you are on the right path or if their objective has changed and you can read just the message.

Remember ! It’s all about them, Each One of them!                   


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