The Human Factor

It is always a good idea to “watch your economics,” but be careful not to forget that caring about people is one of the most essential characteristics of successful trainers.

Tough economic times bring out some of the scariest mandates in American business: Become lean and mean. Trim the excess fat. Do more with less. Training departments are not above these directives, however stopgap they may seem.

Like other corporate functions, Training is told to prove it makes a difference or have its budget sliced. Training is told to contribute to the bottom line and stay focused on that goal or be ignored by line managers who must buy— literally and figuratively—what you have to offer. Training is told to get people in and out of the classroom faster because employees are too busy to spend a lot of time learning. The mandate to Training is: “Teach them a lot, fast...and then let them go do their work.”

Carry that mentality to an extremist’s point of view, and we’d be implanting learning into people’s brains via video playback modules, the way “travel agents” sold vacation memories of Mars to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the classic movie, Total Recall. Training would become a 20-minute outpatient procedure instead of an orchestrated exercise in organizational development.

Training as we know it would cease to exist and become part of the cave drawings others ponder in the distant future: Here is the sun. Here is the hunt. Here is an attendee doing a role-play.

There is no denying the business climate is tough. But training is a business I believe must be conducted from the heart. Yes, it is always a good idea to “watch your economics,” but be careful not to forget that caring about people is one of the most essential characteristics of successful trainers.

I was reminded of that point when keynoting at the National Convention for the Canadian Coaches Certification Program in Ottawa, Canada. One of the most prevalent themes that ran through every conversation I had was the value placed on the individual people those attendees coach and teach. One of the participants, Eldon Worobieff of Kelowna, British Columbia, gave me a chart that shows how three elements— love, dignity, and respect—go a long way toward showing people they’re valued.

Value of the Person

Love    Dignity   Respect

  • Love communicates... I’m for you, You are valued, You count, which builds...Self-esteem
  • Self-esteem develops...Trust, a Positive attitude, and Self confidence, which creates... Dignity
  • Dignity results in Dedicated workers, Enthusiasm, and Quality workmanship These three generate: Loyalty, Creativity, and Active Participation


With all the other things we do in terms of design and delivery of our training, I think it’s critical that we never forget the value of the people in our sessions. Obviously, if it is important for athletes to know coaches are on their side, then the same argument can be made for all of us who do our “coaching” in corporate classrooms. Keeping an eye firmly focused on the human side of training doesn’t mean you should entirely forget about the mandates of doing smart business during tough economic times. Indeed, there is probably no better time to find the delicate balance between the two issues. That way, no matter what the business climate, you know you’re striving to meet everyone’s needs.

One sidebar: Eldon was a champion rower and a champion in coxed 8s at the 1963 Pan American Games and a 1964 Canadian Olympian, but his greatest impact was in coaching both at Pepperdine University, where he is in its Sports Hall of Fame, and in Kelowna. He is also in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame—because of his coaching, not his personal athletic prowess.

Our greatest contribution as trainers is not our personal performance, but in empowering, inspiring, and equipping others.

Until next time—continue to add value and make a difference.

Bob Pike, CSP, CPLP FELLOW, CPAE-Speakers Hall of Fame, is known as the “trainer’s trainer.” He is the author of more than 30 books, including “Creative Training Techniques Handbook” and his newest book, “The Master Trainer’s Handbook.” You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook using bobpikectt.

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