How to Deal with Resistance from a Training Group

How to Deal with Resistance from a Training Group

Do you have to give training in your company to implement new systems and processes?

If so, you may come across resistance from some people who are reluctant to change and learn new things.

What can you do to overcome this type of resistance and prevent the few from ruining it for the rest who DO want to learn?

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Here are 3 strategies you can follow.

1. Create buy-in

Adult learners need to know how any learning is going to benefit them so make sure you answer this question right at the start of your session. Put yourself in the shoes of the person you think might resist the training the most and prepare your answer to their WIFM (What’s In It For me?)

The best approach is to let your participants themselves work out how they will benefit from the training. Set up the problem or situation that the training has been designed to resolve and adopt a Q&A format, small group discussion, or activities to lead the participants to the appropriate conclusion.

2. Face the problem head on

If you see immediately that your learners are going to be resistant, confront the problem head on.

Say something like,

“I know you all have a lot of experience. It may be that some of you believe you don’t need to be here and that there are so many other things you could be doing, so this is what we’ll do…”

Then deal with their resistance like this:

1. Flip chart all the reasons why they think they don’t need the training.

2. Flip chart the training needs, as you understand them

3. Create a third flip chart with the title ‘Benefits’

Then lead a discussion around lists 2 and 3, encouraging the participants to come up with the benefits of the training – benefits to them, to the customer, and to the company.

3. Create the ground rules

Another idea is to agree ground rules with the group at the beginning of the session making sure their resistance is acknowledged and addressed.

You could ask for a show of hands with the questions:

  • “How many of you believe you have an open mind about today¹s training?”
  • “How many of you believe you don’t really need to be here?”

Then, talk about what you aim to achieve with the training but before you get to that, you have two promises

  1. That they will finish the training with at least one thing that’s useful for them
  2. That you’ll make the session as interesting as possible

But, (and this is very important), they have to play their part.

Say that they have a responsibility as well. Then, flip chart their answers to the question:

  • “What do you need to do to ensure a positive and interesting learning experience?”

Their answers then turn into the ground rules for the training. With this approach, you are eliciting and encouraging co-operation by making them feel responsible.

This should definitely minimise any resistance.

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