“There is only one way … to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.”
– Dale Carnegie
There are three types of trainees, says Andrew Silberman, President of Tokyo-based training firm AMT Group. “There are the fully engaged trainees, the ‘prisoners’, and the ‘vacationers’.” Silberman explains that ‘prisoners’ are trainees who believe training is a punishment, and ‘vacationers’ are those who believe that any day out of the office is a good one.
“With both ‘prisoners’ and ‘vacationers’, the fundamental problem is that expectations have not been set,” he says. “What type of trainee walks in the door depends almost entirely on organizational culture. Is it a culture that sees learning and training as an opportunity?”
Dr. Greg Story, President of Dale Carnegie Training Japan, agrees: “How many managers send people out for training with a briefing, spelling out what the organization’s expectations are, and asking employees what they hope to be able to contribute with their newly acquired knowledge?”
Story says the need to communicate expectations to employees is even more important in the era of increased globalization. “In Japan, the majority of training is ‘OJT’ – on-the-job training,” he says. “But as more and more Japanese companies expand overseas, either organically or through M&A, we’re seeing that although the businesses are becoming international, the people are not.”
Silberman notes it’s often not only organizational expectations that are a problem, but also employees’ own expectations. “Some of the first training I ever did involved asking people why they were interested in going to graduate school,” he says. “Most people found it difficult to answer. They were going to graduate school because they were expected to. Not because they wanted to, for whatever reason.
“And we see that in the corporate environment as well, of course,” he continues. “People turn up because ‘my boss told me to’. The trainees who thrill us are the ones who arrive with dreams. They have dreams for their business units, for their companies, and most importantly, for themselves.”
Story adds that change trainees can see immediately provides valuable incentive for continued learning. “When Dale Carnegie started out, he was paid by the lecture,” he says. “If he wasn’t able to give people something they could use right away, they wouldn’t come back.
“But although we nearly always see changes in people who have completed our training, the trainees don’t always understand what has happened to them,” he continues. “Some people report back to us that they’re very happy with the results of their training. They say, ‘My boss has changed!’ or ‘My wife has changed!’ Of course, their bosses and their wives haven’t been on the training – it’s they who have changed!”
Roberto De Vido is a communications consultant who has lived and worked in Asia for 25 years. He is the editor of Aidpreneur.com and producer of the Terms of Reference podcast.