Corporate/Government Training Classes

Taken any training classes recently? Being in IT we take classes every year to keep abreast of the new technology, even if it’s only to learn a new Microsoft operating system that will be gone in three years. We also get management courses. How to manage people, projects, time, whatever. The instructors aren’t called “instructors” or “teachers” anymore. They are called “facilitators”. I like asking them where the facilities are.

There are mandatory “special” classes, like the one we all had to take on sexual harassment. I think most folks come by this one naturally, but I guess some have to be trained to be good at it. We had to take a “diversity” class once. I didn’t know they could teach this. My dad was Polish and my mother was Italian, so I’m naturally diverse. Do they have degrees in this? Ed Albetski, Doctor of Diversity. I could get a post-retirement job facilitating diversity courses.

We actually had a mandatory class on Chair Safety. I think someone fell on his head trying to sit in one of those ergonomic contraptions. Must have been a manager. If a clerk hit his head, I doubt we would all have had to attend a class. Someone pulled a paper towel out of one of those dispensers in the restroom once and the dispenser came off the wall and hit her in the head. Since this was a hardware problem and not user-based, we didn’t get a class on restroom safety. We were looking forward to it though.

We did a “team building” thing once. You know, they split you up in groups and give you challenges that force you to cooperate to succeed. We nearly pulled this heavy guy’s arms off trying to get him up and over a wall. Eventually the facilitator let him walk around. The training facility only had sandwiches for lunch and one of the women was a Vegan. Someone made a crack about vegetables not being food, but being what food eats, and the whole thing turned into a Remedial Diversity session. Maybe they just should have given us all a book on the subject…

Has anyone else had interesting (i.e.: Dilbert-like)Government training experiences?

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Cate Indiano

Ed — I am a trainer in the private sector and I have had all kinds of things happen during class — women going into labor, lots of interruptions, beverage catastrophes, but my most interested challenge was a designer that wanted to take training on InDesign while exercising on a treadmill. I looked around at the rest of the group and they all appeared nonchalant, as this was par for the course, so I kept training, although I had to modulate my voice for his sprinting spurts!


Funny you mentioned the word “facilitator” – I really do think there’s a difference between “training” and “facilitating.” I did technical training before I came to my current position, and you always have a safety net there – if someone asks a question, you direct them to the answer in the manual.

But facilitating – eek. What page tells you how to lead? Where’s the manual on supervision? How can I give them the “right” answer? Where’s my safety net?!

There’s an art to guiding conversations, to relying on each other for expertise, to helping people learn by asking the right questions – not by providing the answers. It seems anyone can (and often does) get up in front of a room to become the “sage on stage” and induce death by powerpoint, but the challenge of keeping people engaged, and drawing out knowledge from a (sometimes) less than enthusiastic peanut gallery – that’s facilitating.

Frankly, if someone were to call me a “facilitator” instead of an “instructor” or “trainer,” I’d be pretty darn pleased.

I had my first “unruly” class recently. Folks were literally passing notes, talking over me and others in the group, complaining, being sarcastic, complaining… My favorite was the one gentleman who picked up his cell phone, and when I asked him if he needed to take his call in the hallway, he looked at me as if I was intruding, and curtly replied, “No thanks, I’m fine,” as he continued his conversation.

Needless to say, I “facilitated” the crowd back to reality, minced no words when I clarified my role and expectations of them, and ended up having a pretty good day with them when all was said and done.

All that being said…mandatory chair training?! Egads – that’s worse than a Dilbert cartoon! At least those have punchlines!