I sometime feel I cross the barrier of professionalism when I start giving motivational speech that rings like a mother talking to her children. It is rather tough when most of the employees I train at work are between 18 to 25 years old. I tend to veer towards motherly advice. This becomes apparent when the topic is safety and health.
I do not feel it is wrong as it comes from genuine concern and belief. I do not want to be reserve on such a sensitive and critical topic. I firmly believe that being honest and nurturing is an excellent way to get through to young people. Being assertive helps them to be comfortable with the topic yet acknowledging that it is a critical matter. Being comfortable will lead them to be more open to voicing their opinions and point of view.
Training young employees is a big challenge. Their attention span is short and they could easily just get lost in their thoughts. The key is to catch and keep their attention. How do you deliver dry topics such as ISO9001:2008 quality management system clauses and get their full attention. When I started teaching dry topics like these, I learn the hard way – you cannot stop them from sleeping in your class. So this is some of the things I do:
- I seek to find out in my opening by asking questions unrelated to their work or the topic I am teaching. This perks their interest and alertness a notch just before the heavy topic.
- Then we do some simple brain exercise which either involve their hands or feet. Get everyone involve. If not, I would ask them to just give each other a shoulder massage 😉 . This usually burst into an interesting increase of energy in the room.
- And the class starts.
- During the explanation, I will link the topic to something they all love to talk about. For these employees – types of motorbikes. Most of the employee knows a great deal about motorbikes as it is their daily transport to work and they are passionate about it. I use this information to empower them in class because I do not know much about it (or most of the time pretends I do not know). This empowers them to answer questions and link it to the training details, because they know I don’t know about the topic. You can see the excitement in their eyes to make me understand.
- Lastly, conclude. This is serious. Link it to the actual situation. At this point, the understanding is established. I just need to ask the right questions so they could think on their own and finally do some serious thinking linking to their jobs. This is where I can identify and rate the staff understanding – the excellent, good, average and poor. I can immediately rate my performance too.
It is critical to get to know my audience just before the class. It gives me the opportunity to immediately arrange and plan how I will train the class – to be motherly or very fact based or aggressive (preferably not).
I never expect a 100% understanding but I believe 40% – 50% of what I taught will be remembered and complied with. The target is not to use “force” but to educate.
“Force binds for a time; Education binds forever.” – Vietnamese Proverb
Picture is from http://tutzone.org/reasons-why-education-is-important/