Thursday, May 28, 2020

IRIS Story 18) Smart, intelligent woman corporate trainers facing challenges at the workplace. What they do not teach at Ivy League business school

(Important lessons to be learned, most commented blog by women networked with me at LinkedIn, Must read complete till end)

Issue/Concern of director
Participants not taking these women trainers seriously and resorting to casual attitude towards learning

Five smart intelligent young women, pass out from top business school were hired as corporate trainers to train new joinee MBA students in sales function at leading multi-brand luxury clothing retail company. These women trainers were indeed brilliant, subject matter expert, well qualified, had studied well what they were supposed to teach during trainer’s boot camp. All of them had scored high in all aspects of knowledge, training delivery, platform skills, and adherence to the certification process.

After undergoing the final stage; sit thru and joint sessions with senior trainers, these women started to deliver training sessions. They were asked to rate participants and give detailed feedback about the current batch of management trainees under induction. They began complaining about the participant’s attitudes, their non-serious approach. 

Participants coming late after lunch and doing a vanishing act post-lunch session. They were not paying attention, spending excessive time out of the classroom, taking long breaks in the washroom. They called the entire batch as a bunch of non-serious people, in other words, they questioned the hiring quality and competency of team HR and entire organization.

The director, a firm believer in gender diversity inclusion actively encouraged more women to be hired as corporate trainers. His well-intentioned desire to imbibe positive cultural change in the workforce, seems like it was falling apart. Our team at Eagles Learning was hired as a consultant to give a solution and fix the problem on priority.

The first thing we did was, establish accountability of trainers on knowledge and behavioural aspects. We made it a mandatory practice to take participant’s feedback every day on various parameters about the trainer, training content, behaviour, facilities on five-point scale; objective and subjective as well. The comprehensive feedback form was designed after taking inputs from all key stakeholders at senior management. Process ownership and responsibility was given to the training administrator. His job was also to ensure integrity, collation, preparation of the summary of feedback and its implementation to the true spirit of corporate ethics. As a consultant it is important we support and substantiate our findings with facts and figures

All trainers were briefed about the training feedback format and the importance of its implementation. After the trainer explains the feedback score, they move outside the classroom, the filled form is submitted directly to the administrator. Somehow this had an overnight magical effect on the performance of trainers on all aspects.

Our team interviewed all participants to take feedback of trainers, what went well, what they liked what more they expected and areas of improvement about entire training process. All participants-MBA students were glad and excited to start a new career to be part of this company.

Important: Must Read

Almost all were offended by these smart, intelligent, and knowledgeable women trainers from very well to do families, they were rubbing them the wrong way. None of the trainers introduced them-self as expected by participants. Whenever they used to ask any question or seek clarification they were snubbed as why didn't you know this about luxury retail. You should have known this, how will you handle if customer ask this question. They were made to feel unworthy lowly, like if they have committed a sin seeking clarification. 

Participants were absolutely correct in commenting; it’s our learning time and if we do not ask now, when do we ask. For participants persistently seeking clarification to their doubts, few trainers had spoken inappropriately about their family background (earmarking the individual participant) and scolded them publicly in the class within audible range of entire students.

These trainers used to carry an attitude of superiority, walk inside the classroom with a book in their hand, not making eye contact, no smile, not responding to students wishing and greeting them at car parking and at the office. Students were no way feeling emotionally connected with their trainer.

Few women trainers used to wear expensive deep cut western dresses or tight body hugging dress, thereby revealing too much of their feminism, nothing bad in their attire from their viewpoint, because they were wearing the product as sold by this company. In the opinion of senior women consultant with our team, this dress code was no way inspiring respect that the training profession is entitled to.

OMG- How do we pull back out of this mess

Many participants had lost all respect for these trainers and few challenged these trainers to do better sales work and compete with them by standing at the shop floor. As per them these trainers were rubbish, a joke. These trainers have absolutely no experience with luxury retailing, what customer care is all about and they are treating us like kids. This smart and intelligent new generation, MBA grads, many having lateral experience told they might decide, not to continue with this organisation and leave after induction.

This situation was alarming because induction training is the first moment of truth for new people joining. It has the potential to create amazing positive spirals and vibes: make people think they have taken the right decision; they are doing the best thing for their career.

We were called too late and we were happy that the client considered us worthy of setting things right at short notice.

Eagles Learning Team’s Decision/Intervention

A) Without wasting any further time, we mobilized best of our resources to set things in order.

B)   We did train the trainer for all the ten trainers of this team for behavioural (soft skills) and platform skills.

C)   We clearly conveyed the dress code and its strict adherence. Tight body-hugging western dress, deep cut tops were a strict no because being a trainer is a privilege and an honour. We want trainers to be looked upon as a seasoned person.

D)   No trainer will walk into the classroom with and management theory book; we are corporate trainers and not a professor. Our walking, body movement must be slow, measured and dignified

E)   Trainers will create eye contact, smile and greet students proactively. They will become better listener and EOD they wil submit PTR about questions asked by participants and how they handled the same.

F)    We explained all about adult learning principles and secrets of how to engage the participants, recap the learnings, create activities, build excitement in learning to avoid boredom and learning fatique.

G)   Syndicate exercise and peer review how trainer should give introduction was done

H)   Director to introduce trainer, building the credibility of process and trainer is important

I)     Outside the class notice board, a brief profile of trainer was posted under the heading; know your trainer to reinforce the trainer’s credibility.

Three out of these five smart intelligent women trainer decided to quit after TTT stating that they have no dearth of opportunities. To our astonishment these three women were well known to this director, one was the daughter of his best friend, all three were related some way or the other. This was an embarrassing moment for all of us. We thanked the director for trusting us with this amazing opportunity. We congratulated him on his gender diversity initiatives and moved on to the next assignment for another client.

A) Do we really understand, what gender diversity inclusion is?
B) Is the above approach benefitting or harming this cause?
C) Is induction training a mere formality/experiment ground?
D) Why excessive cost cutting, why hire low priced trainer and oblige friends? 

We maintain good relations with everyone, after a gap of four year, this director invited Eagles Learning team again to work with them. We clearly conveyed him we have senior women (40% women) in our team and we are there for long time projects, year long engagement projects.

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