They mutter to their neighbors or do unrelated work. They doze and come back late after breaks. Sound familiar? Maybe it's safety, diversity or sexual harassment training. It's probably mandatory, and it might be pretty important. Whatever it is, they don't want it—but you have to deliver it. So you confront a restive, rebellious group. What do you do with such assignments?
"In general," sighs Carolyn Balling, training manager with Dublin, Calif.-based online lender E-Loan, "I try to avoid them."
And she's not kidding. If you know ahead of time that a session will be deadly for learners, your first step should be to find out whether it's really necessary. At a former job in 1998, Balling talked a safety manager out of a two-hour class on basic safety procedures, such as what to do if someone fell and broke an ankle.
Balling argued that workers already knew what to do in the event of an injury or other emergency. During work hours, co-workers would help and call 911. After hours, they'd call 911 on their own. Balling won over the safety manager, who settled for issuing a bright red sheet of instructions and sending the safety committee around to be sure employees posted it by their phones.
That, says Balling, was training well-prevented. "What were we going to do for two hours?" she asks. "Practice dialing 911?"
First Things First