After our team presents the Virtual Facilitator Trainer Certification (VFTC) program for a client, we always ask participants to complete a post-course evaluation and we schedule a debriefing call with the client. We value continuous improvement, and we take the suggestions and feedback we receive to heart. In fact, whenever a client gives us feedback, we are happy!
During a recent VFTC program, our client began giving us constructive feedback via email during the first webinar delivery. Our delivery team pivoted immediately, adding new content, and focusing on ensuring that the client’s expectations were exceeded during the next two webinars. I just got off our final debriefing call and was gratified to hear that their participants were uniformly positive, praising how interactive and engaging the program was, and acknowledging that even the veteran trainers on the team learned techniques that will improve their virtual training deliveries. They also had a couple of suggestions that we intend to implement before we deliver the next VFTC.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I am embarrassed to admit this, but I used to bristle at constructive feedback. It was difficult for me to hear that we may have missed the mark during a training delivery. Fortunately, I have learned to embrace the client’s desire to be a full partner with us. Full partners give both positive and negative feedback. The client who is willing to speak up when their needs aren’t being met gives us the opportunity to course correct and get it right for them. For that level of partnership to occur, there must be trust and psychological safety.
But let me share a “how not to give feedback” example as well. A few years ago, I delivered a two-day training workshop, in person, in another city. When I arrived at the training location and was setting up, I realized that there were no flipchart easels in the hotel meeting room. I asked the client if those easels had been ordered. This question triggered an explosion as my client lost his temper and began ranting that we hadn’t requested them, and he wasn’t going to pay for them.
Looking at my watch, I knew that participants were going to start arriving in a few minutes. I also knew that I needed those flipchart easels! I went into another room, did some deep breathing exercises to calm myself down, and ran to the business center. There I found two flipchart easels which the hotel was happy to let me use at no charge. They delivered them to the meeting room in plenty of time to begin the workshop. Ironically, the training program was focused on better communication and conflict resolution skills.
I share this example because for me, my client stopped operating as a full partner the minute he started yelling at me. I wanted to create an environment of trust and safety for his team. And I was very aware that this team worked for a volatile boss who seemed more interested in assigning blame than solving a problem. To his credit, during the workshop, he acknowledged to his team that he sometimes over-reacted to bad news and would strive to change this behavior.
Trust and psychological safety matter in the virtual classroom as well. We’ll explore the factors that create and undermine trust in our next NetSpeed Nuggets session. Join us at this 30-minute, complimentary session, Virtual Training: Building Trust and Psychological Safety, on Wednesday, July 19, at 1:00 pm ET / 10:00 am PT. Registration is required.