When training leaders, use the teachable moment when they are primed to learn. Students signal their readiness to learn with increased eye contact, alert body language, and – most importantly – with questions.
Here are six tips for encouraging a questioning attitude in a training meeting.
At the beginning of a training meeting, ask leaders specific questions about their groups, what they need to learn to be a better leader, and what plans they have for their groups. Throughout the session ask lots of questions. As you do training, for instance, ask how they have handled a situation in the past. Then, throw out follow-up questions to everyone to continue allowing their minds to work.
Ask everyone to write down a good question before the first break. They can choose to remain anonymous. Answer some of the questions at a break. Nothing helps people learn than to know their questions are being answered. This also shows you really care about what they need to learn, not just what you want to teach.
Let leaders know their questions are welcomed. Respond with "Great question!" or "I’m glad you asked that."
This keeps participants on their toes. If they are paying attention, this should generate more questions.
When someone asks a question, it is usually more important than your set agenda. (But use discretion, of course. Some questions involve such a small number of participants that if you answer it you’ll lose them.) If the question refers to something you plan to cover later, go ahead and jump ahead and answer the question, at least partially. If you wait until later, the inquirer may no longer be eager to learn it. Don’t miss the teachable moment!
If you take 20 minutes to answer one straightforward query, participants may be reluctant to ask more questions. You don’t have to teach all there is to learn (or all you know) on a particular subject at this time. Plus, if you say all there is to say, you limit their abilities to ask additional questions on the subject.
Use several of these suggestions at your next training meeting to help them learn, which, in turn, will make them better leaders.
What tips would you add to this list?