The Proper Role of Training: Increasing Knowledge or Building Confidence?

In the July/August 2013 edition of Training magazine, Bob Pike penned a column entitled “Feel –Good Training.”  In it he asks: “Am I – are you – creating situations in the classroom that help people feel good about themselves and that help them have successful experiences.”

“…feel good about themselves…”

When I first read that line, I thought to myself that Mr. Pike is coming dangerously close to advocating for an approach that’s <gasp> touchy feely!  The truth is, he’s right on.  And he goes on to say, “I’ve adjusted my training strategy in one key way to better meet that goal. I focus on helping participants demonstrate and increase competence, rather than demonstrating my own.”

I witnessed firsthand the power of helping people feel good about themselves this week during a 2.5 day workshop in India as colleague after colleague designed and delivered a series of lessons.  One colleague who set out to train healthcare professionals on quality assurance set up a hotel ballroom as if it was a laboratory, posting various lab photos around the room and asked attendees to conduct a quality audit of the “lab”.  It was easy to see who got it and who was struggling, and by the end of the 3-hour session, very few participants were struggling with this responsibility.  Several participants noticed quality deficiencies during this audit that not even the instructors had caught!

A pair of colleagues led a speed-dating style session to allow participants an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas after they were asked to carry out a task that almost 100% of participants resisted at first.  As they spoke with one another about their experiences, exactly 100% of participants concluded that the task they had been asked to carry out was so important and powerful that they all made a commitment to do it again when they returned to their offices.

Instead of talking at our participants and showing slides and telling them what they should be doing, we allowed our participants to show us what they knew how to do and where they needed help.  This 2.5 day workshop was amazing, fun and extremely fulfilling as we looked on and witnessed what it looks like when participants are challenged to demonstrate and increase their competence. 

It was obvious they were walking away feeling better about themselves, which in turn made my colleagues and I feel better about ourselves.

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2 thoughts on “The Proper Role of Training: Increasing Knowledge or Building Confidence?

  1. Love it. In this brave new era, we can get the knowledge we need using our smartphones. Increasing confidence and motivation, and other meta-skills like problem solving, creative thinking, and self-regulation have to be something we at least consider as training professionals.. Even in “boring” HR training or what have you.


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