Member Since: 7th Nov 2016
I've worked in training and development for more than 25 years. After 21 years with two of the 'Big Four' professional services firms, Arthur Andersen and PwC, I left to become a freelance trainer. I've worked in four continents and more than 40 countries, designing and delivering training in local and national government and nearly every industry sector in a variety of disciplines, including leadership and management development, business strategy and a range of soft skills.
My clients include the European Commission and European Parliament and their agencies, most of the major Middle Eastern oil and gas companies, the United Nations, the BBC, the Syrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Russian Federal Commission, the Chinese Ministry of Finance, the Croatian and Serbian & Montenegran Ministries of Defence and many others.
I'm the author of 15 books, the latest of which "The Smart Solution Book" (FT Pearson) was published in October 2016. Two of my books have won publishers' bestseller awards and an e-learning package which I co-designed won two international awards.
In addition to my BA degree, I am a Fellow of the British Institute for Learning and Development, a Member of the ILM, a certified NLP practitioner, and have Diplomas in Training and Development and in Hypnotherapy. I'm a certified DISC trainer and accredited ILM and CMI trainer.
When I'm not working and travelling, I play Association Croquet for a long-established club; I compose and arrange music (I've published over 800 pieces to date); I have regular columns in a specialist music magazine; my wife and I play appalling golf, but we are good long-distance walkers!
Freelance Trainer Wize-Up Ltd
15th Feb 2021
Very interesting article - thank you very much.
7th Jun 2017
Nice article, thank you. If I believe that some of the participants are attending my courses under sufferance, I 'inoculate' them at the outset, by suggesting that there are three types of participant on any course:
1. The learner, who has a genuine interest in learning
2. The tourist, who thinks - "well, this might be interesting - let's havea a look round"
3. The prisoner: "They made me come".
I then ask if we have any prisoners,telling them it's ok to be a prisoner and thanking them for their honesty. I ask if we have any tourists and any learners. I tell them that's my job to convert the prisoners to tourists, the tourists to learners and to give the learners a really worthwhile day. Having acknowledged prisoner status, participants pretty much forefeit the right to behave that way and tend to be far better because I have acknowledged their presence.
As for phones, agreeing upfront not to use phones really doesn't work. (It will work for a while, but gradually the phones appear). I start by saying "When I was a small boy, my mother told me never to talk to her whilst she was on the phone to someone else, because it was rude. So, in due deference to you, if anyone decides to use their phone during the course, I will stop and wait for you to finish, because it would be rude of me to talk whilst you are using your phone." I ensure that I do exactly that - the moment a phone appears, I stop mid-sentence, smile and say nothing. The phone goes away very quickly. If it happens a second time, the group will tell the offender to put the phone away. I have used this even in facilitating conferences of 3-400 people.
17th May 2017
Thanks for the article. My answer is that we may be tackling this from the wrong end. I don't have much faith in competency frameworks per se. Rather than care about what personality or behavioural type they favour, I would rather see them phased out as a good idea that didn't work.
If an organisation spends a fortune in recruiting a new employee, then there should have been some serious thinking, at recruitment stage, about why that person was right for the job. Let's imagine, for example, that ABC corporation recruits a technical expert in whatever field ABC operates in. On day one, the expert is given a competency framework which expects him to become a generalist, and denies him the very expertise for which he thought he was recruited.
High on the list of competencies will be 'teamwork'. But our expert didn't become an expert through teamwork, but through solo work. Experts are generally self-motivated individuals with a near obsessive passion for something. They develop the passion through grit, determination and (often) working alone. As long as they lob over the fence the things that the organisation wants, it doesn't matter whether they score 5 on the competency framework in the teamwork section, because that doesn't relate to their work, and dilutes their performance as an expert.
Rather than worry about whether competency frameworks favour extroverts or introverts, I would be more concerned that they favour an outdated, generalised notion of how the world of work should be conducted.
Competency frameworks, along with formalised appraisals are the refuge of the incompetent manager. Good managers give their direct reports feedback as and when it's necessary, document what went well and less well and know what will stimulate their reports to perform well. You don't need the formal objective setting/appraisal/competency framework systems to do this for you - good managers don't need them.
So, for me, the focus is wrong here. The bias towards one group or another is not the issue, but the use of tools which hide, create or perpetuate institutionalised mediocrity.
Many organisations are now moving away from these outmoded tools and developing people who can manage, and in turn giving space for intelligent people to flourish.
14th Nov 2016
I have to take issue with some of this. Folded arms are not necessarily indicative of defensive behaviour. For some, it is simply a comfortable way to sit; for some, it's a sign that they are cold; highly kinaesthetic people tend to make maximum physical contact with themselves, and folded arms may be one sign of this.
People are pretty consistent in their own body language, but trying to derive universal meaning from a single gesture leads to dangerous assumptions about people.
Roving eyes may be a sign that the person is relating what is being said to their own experience.
I would warn against making any assumptions based on the signs listed above - people are more complex than this.