How to Deal with Turkeys during Workplace Training Sessions

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and you may find that you’re dealing with turkeys during workplace training sessions.

What is a Turkey?

A turkey is a participant that disrupts your training. Some turkeys do not realize that they are being disruptive, while others are seeking a reaction. OSG offers the following tips when dealing with turkeys:

The Talker

When you are trying to instill important safety principles, it’s important that participants are listening. It can be tempting to engage in conversations with neighbours; however, even topical conversations with neighbours can become distracting.

Limit conversations by setting expectations that talking while the instructor is speaking will not be tolerated.

The Texter

Texting and/or sending emails from your cell phone may not seem like a big deal. Texters tend to think it only takes a second, it’s quiet, and you can still listen. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Sending an email or having a text conversation can take our focus away from what is being taught for much longer than anticipated, as it often takes time to re-focus and find your place after using your phone. Additionally, while it is quiet, it is quite disruptive to those around you.

Explain that you understand that work emails or issues may arise that need to be dealt with. Ask that participants who need to send a text or email kindly step out of the room to do so, and return when ready.

The Heckler

Sometimes, especially in workplace settings where you are training peers, a select few may think it is amusing to act disruptively by making funny jokes or comments during instruction. Making jokes, being disruptive, and calling attention away from the topic all take away from the message of the training. It is also rude.

If someone keeps making jokes or commentary, address it directly. Ask the person to please stop, as it slows down the training. Show that you are all sharing the common goal of completing training in a timely manner.

The Know-it-all

We have all encountered a person who knows everything. This happens during training too. This person publically corrects you (whether or not he/she is right being another question!), or asks questions specifically designed to confuse you.

It’s best to deflect comments with a simple, “thank you for the suggestion,” rather than engagement. Do not be afraid to admit that you do not know the answer to a question, and commit to working together to finding an answer, outside of the training setting.

The Silent Crowd

Getting this group to engage in discussions or complete group activities is like pulling teeth. People in this group may be resentful that they have to complete training, because they feel their excellent experience speaks for itself. Others may simply be feeling shy, or a bit overwhelmed being back in a classroom setting after being in the workforce for so long.

Be empathetic. Show appreciation for the years of experience and be understanding that all people are different. For some, speaking in front of the class is very daunting. Encourage attendees to do what they can.

The Movers and Shakers

Some training participants are used to being on the move at a work site all day long. They load and unload trucks, drive lifting devices, and rarely sit. Transitioning to a classroom setting where focus and sitting is required for up to 1 day can be challenging for those used to being on the move.

Be sure to take all planned breaks, and if you notice attendees getting fidgety, take a short break even if it’s not a planned time. It’s also very useful to invite participants to stand or pace at the back of the room while they listen, if they feel that it would help them remain focused.

The OSG Training Difference

At OSG, all Train-the-Trainer programs have a pre-requisite course that teaches adult learning methods and instructional design. It will prepare workplace trainers to deal with turkeys during workplace training sessions, should any problems arise. Our Train-the-Trainer Day ensures that no workplace trainer completes a Train-the-Trainer course without a complete understanding of the most vital components for adult learning and training success.

Did you know that OSG has trained over 5000 workplace trainers? Let us help you train your workplace trainer. Click here to see OSG’s course calendar for upcoming Train-the-Trainer offerings in your area.If you have any questions about adult learning, or how the Train-the-Trainer programs work, call 1-800-815-9980 to speak to a Health and Safety expert today.

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Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator

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