This is a question we often ask at the beginning of training and have become used to the inevitable replies of:
‘I’ve come for an update’
‘Well, it’s mandatory isn’t it?’
‘My manager said I had to.’
‘Because I value the people I support, and I want to be the best I can be’ – said no-one, ever!
You can spot them a mile off. They enter with arms folded, motivation to learn dialled down to zero and that look on their face that says, ‘yeah, I know all this stuff’. Sometimes, they thaw; maybe they had just had a bad start to the day or have other things on their minds. Some we manage to win over in a kind of pincer movement, with us at the front exuding enthusiasm and energy and the other participants asking really interesting questions and sharing their experiences. When this happens it’s joyous and we love comments like, ’I thought it was going to be boring, but actually I’ve really enjoyed it and learned a lot’.
And some? Well, some remain stoically disinterested for the whole day. I honestly think if we performed cartwheels or magic tricks their expression would stay the same – the yawn may be metaphorical, (although not always) but the message is clear, none the less; ‘I don’t want to be here’ and ‘when is the next break?’
So, they spend their time staring vacantly into space, sighing loudly, having ‘whispered’ conversations with their friends, or checking their phones every few minutes for Facebook updates.
You think we exaggerate? We don’t.
Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone who attends our training, – we would have given up by now if it did; and, to be fair, the ‘I don’t want to be here’s’ are in the minority, even if their ‘presence’ is felt by everyone else.
We do try and make our training as relevant and interesting as possible, whilst acknowledging that issues of abuse and neglect aren’t the jolliest of subjects. But … Safeguarding, the Mental Capacity Act, Equality and Inclusion, and Human Rights are fundamental to good practice. If people are motivated to do their job well, then they will be motivated to learn how to do their job even better. As we face those who are bored and disinterested across the training room, we ask ourselves the question, ‘What on earth is their practice like?’ - and not from a positive perspective!
Training staff isn’t cheap, so surely it makes sense to squeeze every last drop of value possible out of it including, most importantly, the transfer of the learning into practice. And people who are on their mobiles, chatting to their friends or sitting with arms folded, challenging us to ‘entertain’ them, aren’t going to be transferring anything anywhere!
So, for those of you who arrange staff training please think about the following:
Why are staff attending training and how to you prepare them for the event?
What do they hope to learn and what do you want them to learn?
How will you evaluate their learning when they get back to the workplace?
How will you support them to put their learning into practice?
How will this benefit the people who use your service?
What will you do about those staff who resolutely refuse to learn and change their practice?
If you do think about these things and ask the questions, it may be that we get a more varied response to the question. ‘So, what do you hope to get out of the session?’
PS: To those of you who attend our training with enthusiasm, commitment and curiosity – thank you. You are the reason we do what we do.