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Doug McCallum, recently retired and extremely brilliant senior training consultant, has had a rich history with The Bob Pike Group. He trained for over four decades and was recognized by his peers as a top national and international training professional. Most notable of all, McCallum is one of the original Creative Training Techniques® trainers with Bob Pike.
McCallum sat down with The Bob Pike Group recently to pass on his wisdom, knowledge, and advice to today’s training consultants. His legacy will most certainly live on as he embarks on his next chapter!
To me, the thing that transcends across all is that you’re looking for results … and high retention. If you’re looking at instructor-centered training, you don’t get either of those. Participant-centered training = high results and high retention.
Think of it as the value of a dollar. If you spend $100 and only get 20% retention, you’re looking at a $20 value. Everyone cares about the bottom line. Dollars = time = results and retention.
Participant-centered training is really about results, retention, and how it has a direct relationship—and it reinforces the fact that there’s money wasted with lecture-centered training.
I’ve learned that through participant-centered training people learn, retain, participate—and actually enjoy the process! In the end, both sides feel good about what happened.
There is a direct correlation between what you do and enjoying it or doing something and not enjoying it or retaining it. There is a higher percent chance people will remember, participate, and enjoy interactive training.
You literally can see the light bulb come on! That in itself is enjoyable to me as a trainer. No one likes to be forced into learning, and people like to learn when it’s fun. This type of training does that!
The bottom line is that everybody wants to be included—nobody wants to be left out. Inclusivity is big. Self-value is big. I frequently hear people say, “I don’t want to feel stupid or like I don’t have value … that I don’t have anything to offer, or this isn’t for me.”
You need to create training that makes your team feel included, valued, and engaged in something that’s meaningful. It is one thing to be simply engaged … and another thing to have that training engagement be meaningful.
It makes it easier because if it’s done right, it should be about the learner and not the instructor. Trainers are working way too hard. You should be working 20% of the time and participants should be doing 80% of the work. Usually it’s flipped and trainers do most of the work. To make the trainer’s job easier, you flip the responsibility. That’s the key. Make the participants responsible.
Making name tents. Have participants write down the name they want to be called and not what’s on the registration papers. This can include a military rank like colonel or captain. Or maybe someone prefers to be called Jen, not Jennifer.
This gives value to participants’ personalities! By using a name tents instead of name tags, trainers can see everyone’s name easily, plus it gives everyone the value of choice in what they’d like to be called.
Also, ask participants, “What are you going to do with what you learned when you get home?” This exercise helps participants create an action plan with what to do next. It puts pressure on them to do actually something with what they’ve learned.
I have four “weird” places I’ve trained!
My most challenging group was a manufacturing company of all men. It was 2:00am in the morning, and they didn’t want to be there … and they let me know that. I trained them for three hours on how to be better communicators. The participants truly did their best on trying not to be there!
The most difficult participant situation I’ve had that actually turned into a satisfactory experience was a group of crane operators. They didn’t want to be there, and they also did everything possible to show me they didn’t want to be there. At the end of the 3-day training, the guy in charge said, “We want to thank you for being here and want to give you something.” Those 10 guys had put together a cookbook of their mothers’/grandmothers’ recipes, gave me a t-shirt, hats, and called me one of their own. I walked on glass to get there but got a cookbook! It felt awesome.
When dealing with difficult participants, you must trust the process. You must believe in what you’re doing—walk the walk and talk the talk. If you don’t, training participants can smell fear and they know you don’t believe it. It’s okay to be calm as a duck on the exterior … but paddling like crazy underneath.
Well 33 years ago, the majority of people had the mindset that they wanted to learn. Back then, anyone who came to a seminar was thrilled to be there, and they wanted to make change. Now they think they can find it on the Internet.
Involvement works. You have to figure out how to get people involved. It worked 33 years ago and still works today. Show people how much you care. People don’t care how much you know—they want to know how much you care about them. Invest in them and help them in their situation.
Once we determined the foundation for instructor-led, participant-centered training, then everything builds on top of that. That took a lot of time, blood sweat and tears, self-evaluation, team evaluation, and company evaluation. It’s called “boot camp” for a reason. Boot camp is simply that: a foundation for building your next steps. Once we decided what the foundation principles were, we had to determine what techniques could be duplicated and replicated. If you can’t do either, you’ve wasted time and money on both sides.
The new BPG Boot Camp Workbook is a world of difference. I spent endless hours refining and revising content so that trainers can duplicate and replicate the process. Boot camp gives you all the tools you need as a trainer!
McCallum is looking forward to retirement! He will be a tour director for bus tours across the United States! He’s off to see the world and tell others how great it is. His next trip is to the Arctic … wow!