7 training and development governance tips – breath & don’t ignore the hippo in the room

Maryanne Lockwood and I at the BCHRMA conference oxygen bar

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Great training and development means being aware of governance factors.

Gover who?  Governance factors are all things related to the physical space and environment that our training and development takes place in.

Even air quality.

I was intrigued to learn at the recent BCHRMA conference oxygen bar display booth (that’s myself and Maryanne Lockwood partaking) that today’s air is made up of about 19-21% oxygen.  The oxygen bar gives you 50% oxygen.  Interestingly 200 years ago we had 30% oxygen in the air we were breathing.

The oxygen bar got me thinking about governance factors, those factors that can make a big difference to the quality of your participants’ experience, whether or not you can control the factors.  Here are some examples:

  • room temperature: I once did a workshop in the middle of winter in a room where the heating was broken.  Myself and participants clad ourselves in winter coats, mitts and hats.  Acknowledging that I didn’t have any control over the temperature (oddly, it was controlled in another city) but that we had someone working on it was critical to continuing.
  • physical space: despite clear instructions that our workshops require participants to have room to move about, one workshop had folks practically sitting on top of each other we were so so squished into a tiny room.
  • lighting: some participants, as with other governance factors, don’t particularly notice the light in the room while others are very keen observers.  If the room I’m training in doesn’t have natural light I mention it (to appease those who have already noticed).  If the blinds on the room can be moved I invite participants to change them as they see fit, particularly as the light shifts as the day progresses.  What was a nicely lit spot in the morning can be the source of blinding glare in the afternoon.
  • ambient noise: the hum of a PowerPoint, the whir of a fan, outside traffic etc. all can drive some participants nuts, while others remain unaware.  I try to have my antennae up and ask participants if they’re being bothered.
  • seating: uncomfortable chairs, not enough chairs, chairs arranged so not everyone see each other or you are all a hassle to deal with.  Clear communication with the training venue can go a long way in preventing problems.
  • physical layout: how the seating is arranged has a big effect on what kind of training activities you can do.  For example, fixed, cantilevered seating makes mixing participants challenging (seating that gradually rises the further the rows are from the stage). Large obstacles in the middle of the room (like floor to ceiling pillars or a massive fireplace, I get a migraine thinking about that training experience) are also challenging.  I always tell clients it’s imperative that participants be able to see and hear myself and each other.  There’s no equivocating on that one.
  • sound: if people can’t hear you it doesn’t matter how good you are.  Know how many people you can speak to without a microphone and make sure you have a good quality sound system if the number of people is above that.  For example I can speak to about 75 people without a microphone, while our entertainers can go up to about 100.  If you’re using a sound system make fast friends with the technician and leave enough time to do an unhurried sound check.

The ones above are the most common and there are many, many other governance factors, especially when you’re training in international and/or remote areas such as:

  • the local wildlife (I’ve dealt with bears, caribou, whales, monkeys and hippos to name a few)
  • the presence of fierce looking security guards
  • the contrast of sweltering temperatures outside with glacial, air conditioned temperatures inside
  • unusual food you and/or your participants aren’t used to

Have good training content?  Check.  Have good training delivery methods?  Check.

Then don’t ruin it all by not paying attention to governance factors.


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