The Netherlands is a fairly small but populous country with 16.5 million inhabitants and high population density. The country is flat, which is said to be a reason for Dutch values such as openness, transparency, and honesty. Historically, the Dutch are known to be traders. As a consequence, Dutch people value pragmatism, collaboration, and compromise.
The Dutch consider training and coaching to be important tools for professional development. Many trainees have busy jobs and take training very seriously. They want to maximize the return. The higher the education level of the trainees, the more they feel responsible for their own learning.
EXPECTATIONS FOR TRAINERS
Dutch people value structure and planning. A trainer should come well-prepared, with agreedupon training objectives and a clear outline for the training. Trainees expect the whole event to be wellorganized. This includes the venue, the room, the media, and the food and beverages.
In addition, Dutch trainees prefer a trainer who demonstrates reliability and consistency. If the trainer promises a break at 3 p.m., then the break should occur at that time. "Do as you say" is the motto.
Dutch people value structure and planning. A trainer should come well-prepared, with agreed-upon training objectives and a clear outline for the training.
The Dutch are generally moderate people, believing in the philosophy: "Doe maar gewoon dan doe je al gek genoeg" (behaving normally is sufficiently extravagant). They do not respond well to a trainer who clearly tries to sell himself or herself or who uses a lot of "hype" and overstatements. However, they do expect a trainer to be confident and clear.
Dutch people value egalitarianism (everyone is of equal status) and consensus. They have a mistrust of hierarchy and status symbols. In other countries, a trainer may be given immediate respect by the trainees because of a perceived hierarchical relationship. In the Netherlands, the trainer must earn respect. An autocratic or even arrogant ("I know better") attitude likely will not be well received.
Although people in the Netherlands usually avoid open confrontation, they do not shy away from giving their honest opinion. They also may challenge the trainer. This is not seen as disrespectful but as a way of enhancing the learning and (sometimes) to test the trainer's credibility at the start of a program.
DUTCH TRAINING STYLE
School education has moved away from traditional rote learning to a more interactive and participative style. Trainees do not expect a lecture, but a more engaging style with opportunities for discussion. Doing work in small teams generally works well. Trainees are not always immediately enthusiastic to role play in front of their peers. By providing a comfortable environment, the trainer usually can encourage participation.
The program should be based on a clear theoretical framework, and the focus has to be on practical application. The trainees want to be able to use the learning immediately. Relevant examples and stories based on actual experiences generally work well, but they need to be used carefully. An example from a luxury automobile manufacturer may have little credibility for trainees at a small vehicle manufacturer.
When it comes to evaluations, Dutch trainees tend to be brutally honest. No matter how good the training has been, a maximum score is sometimes not given for a simple reason: Perfection doesn't exist, and things always can be improved. They see the evaluation as an opportunity to make the next training even more successful than this one. nt
Kimberly Blanchard- Cattarossi is practice group leader, Global Business Training for Aperian Global (www. aperianglobal.com) based in Venice, Italy. Jiri van den Kommer is regional training director and senior consultant for Aperian Global, based in Utrecht, the Netherlands.