You can take your Resilience and shove it!

Or how small things can radically alter training outcomes.

I am often amazed by how what seem like quite small things to us can be absolute deal breakers when it comes to student outcomes in training programs.  Let me give you an example we use the word Resilience, in a lot of our training and workshops, because well a lot of the work that we do is about or with people in crisis and how to assist them while at the same time looking after yourself appropriately.  This could be in the context of mental health, suicide, natural disasters anything really and up until recently the word resilience has never caused us any issues, or adversely effected the outcomes of training.  While working a group of people recently the word resilience and what it meant became a bit of a focal point and as a result we have altered a range of our training programs in response.

So what was the problem?  The problem was that this group and now several others has seen the word resilience as a cop-out, a way of saying, we are not going to actually do anything to help you because we you are ‘resilient’ enough to help yourselves.  The groups had heard the word so often and in so many context where it resulted in no assistance for them, that they had attached a very negative connotation to the word.  So much so in fact that a number of people who would have come to and greatly benefited from the workshop didn’t attend because the work resilience was used in the flyers and promotional materials.

This has really got me wondering though.  How often, despite our best efforts do the words we use in our promotional materials and our training and workshops, have a very different meaning for other, than they do for us and is there any way for us deal with this.  I am not suggesting that we should try and craft the universal, inoffensive language for training, because usually where I have seen attempts at this (read most things written with extreme political correctness) the meaning and importance is lost and I think even less people end up being engaged.  What I am suggesting though is that I think this happens more often than we think, it is just that most of the time people dont say anything at least not publicly, they just say to themselves and their friends, ‘Ah they just banged on about resilience again, same as the last lot,’ and they and their friends and acquaintances never come back.

I would be really interested in hearing if anyone else has had a similar experience.  it would also be great to hear any ideas that people have about how they got over this type of thing.

Niche Marketing your Organisational Learning Offerings

Niche Marketing your Internal Training To External Stakeholders

What is your core Business?  For us it is Community Services Activities, in particular crisis support, counselling, Individual support work and Suicide Prevention.  One of the challenges I had when I first came into this role was around how to fund all of the training that it was necessary to deliver (both internally and through external providers) to staff and volunteers.  This was a particular challenge for us as a substantial proportion of our income comes from the provision of services for Government, with the rest being made up through donations and other income generation where necessary.  This meant that while training was both very important and highly valued by the organisation there was a significant challenge around how to fund both a fully functioning L&D unit as well as provide access to externally provided training where it was required as the vast majority of our ‘income’ goes to the delivery of client services.

It became obvious quite quickly that there was a subset of the internal training that we ran for our staff, for example ‘Psychological First Aid‘  that possessed a commercial potential in terms of its content.  It was just packaged in a way that wasn’t necessarily appealing to a wider, external audience.  It also became obvious quite rapidly that given the high regard for and visibility of a number of our services, particularly in the counselling, suicide prevention and mental health arenas, that we were often asked by organisations to come and speak to their staff about these areas.  It was an added bonus that we were also a registered training organisation (RTO).  It also got me thinking that given it was a challenge for us, a fairly large organisation to be able to provide the necessary training to our staff that other, smaller agencies and organisation in the sector might also be facing similar if not larger difficulties.

We therefore decided to look at the prospect of commercializing the training we did internally for our staff, around our core business (and this I think is a key idea if you are thinking of doing this) and offering not only to other agencies within the sector but to organisations and businesses outside of the sector as well.  Has it been worth it; I think that it has, we have managed to build a commercial training and training consultancy business, that while not large, provides us with an income stream to supplement the funding given to us by the organisation to provide training for our staff, which in turn frees up funds for the delivery of services to clients.

So I challenge those of you in organisational L&D units and the like to think about your organisations core business and training that you deliver around that and see whether or not there is a niche market there that you can utilise.  Remember though it should be about that core business, the things that you are known for and are good at, they are the things that are going to give you the best results.  So think about it, you never know just how good your bottom line might look next year.

Training the Untrainable (The E-learning vs Face-to-face Dilemma)

I have been thinking a lot recently about the delivery of some of our more challenging training and professional development programs, particularly given that almost everyone these days seems to be an e-learning evangelist of some description (just Kidding) and our large and quite dispersed, regional and remote workforce.

I am not talking here about the delivery of Workplace Health and Safety compliance training, or basic computer skills, or even management and communications skills, I am talking about the hard edge training programs we run;

  • Suicide Prevention and Awareness
  • Domestic Violence awareness and intervention
  • Mental Health and Depression and
  • Psychological First Aid

to name a spectrum of them.  These are programs where there is a strong chance that at least some of the people who are attending the training will have been effected by theses kinds of trauma in one way or another, and often significant issues and reactions arise during the training.  This means that all of these programs are run on a face to face basis usually with 2 facilitators in the room, so that issues can be dealt with, without compromising the integrity of the training.

So the dilemma is, is it possible and also is it ethical and safe to utilise new technologies (e-learning) to training people in these skills, when we know that there is a certain proportion of people who are going to have adverse reactions to the materials for one reason or another.

My questions then are relatively simple does anyone know of any instances where these sorts of programs have been delivered through e-learning options successfully and how where the issues related to participant reactions handled in this environment.

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