Last week I was in Chennai delivering a training on PowerShell, at a very short notice.
This was a very different experience. I was called to deliver a batch on Automating Administration with Windows PowerShell®
More than the content, the context was different this time. This was started by another trainer but the participants were not happy with the delivery. The requirement came to me on Monday evening after 7:00 PM. I was expected to start the batch on Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM. That was definitely tough. I spoke to the vendor requesting at least a day to understand something about background and the context, which he agreed to. There were other surprises as well
One, 5 days content squeezed to 3 days.
Two, client was in Chennai.
While the first one was not quite a surprise as most people are trying to get the staff back to production/delivery sooner. I made sure that the expectation was set so that there are no arguments later over the duration and overall feedback. Thankfully, the vendor team agreed to the assumptions to avoid feedback risk. Fundamental assumption was most of the participants are experienced server admins and they know some level of PowerShell already. Therefore, 3 days were planned to cover the agenda.
The second surprise however was a bit hard to manage as I had to start travel in few hours. Having managed to get ready, it was fortune testing time for me.
The flight was scheduled for a 10:30 PM departure. After getting on the runway the pilot decided to go back to parking bay. The aircraft had some technical glitches making it unsafe for take off. It got rescheduled to 12:30 AM and eventually I reached Chennai at 3:00 AM on Wednesday. I barely slept for three and half hours. The training was to commence at 9:00 AM and I reached at 8:20 AM to class room.
Participants were told 9:30 AM so I got some preparation time. That’s the only hour I got to plan my delivery to ensure that the training goes smooth. By the time everyone joined it was 9:45 AM and the training eventually started. I had to share the last evening experience with participants before setting the tone for agenda.
Introductions are generally 10 to 20 minutes but this time I extended to almost an hour. It was not just to get names, I wanted to understand there area of work, expertise and what they expect from the training. That conversation helped me so much to get an exact idea about what needs to be done to help them learn. The day one feedback was 4.8 out of 5.
After seeing that, all the stress taken 24 hours before was flushed. It also gave me a motivation to finish on a higher note (which did happen with similar feedback).
In my last 5 training’s, I was able to help the participant implement PowerShell learning to solve their existing problem. For some, it was a migration from the batch files to PowerShell and for some it was how to approach automation with PowerShell learning.
I repeated my practice of encouraging participants to talk about real-life technical issues they face. By the third day there was one participant who could change his two batch file approach to a single PowerShell script for their production. This was an acknowledgement for me that I delivered a successful training in true sense.
So my learning,
- Be real about your capabilities and limitations and overcome inhibitions.
- As a trainer focus should be on enabling learning & discovering than knowledge sharing & content delivery.
- Knowledge sharing may limit to content delivery however learning enablement pushes students/participants to think about solving technical problems.
- Knowledge sharing may remain as notes with participants but enablement helps them accomplish something real and remember for a long time.
- While planning is good, sometimes one has to take bold steps/risks to establish credibility.