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Fish and Chips

April 21, 2008

What do fish and chips have to do with training? Back in the old days it was not uncommon to use some emotional flair in training to reinforce a message or express your distaste at a demonstration of poor performance. This could be the occasional rant, outburst or hurling a work aid across the room (yes, this sort of behaviour was as common as paying men and women different rates for the same job). It was known that physical abuse wasn’t an effective method but emotional abuse had it’s place in the training regime.

In the organisation I was working for at the time, this was known as FIBS (fear, intimidation, belittlement and sarcasm) or FISH (fear, intimidation, sarcasm and humiliation). FISH stuck with me. It was bullying fair and square and trainers used it more for themselves than for the student.

The alternative was considered to be ‘touchy feely’ or the ‘soft touch’ and was used only when the situation warranted it (bosses son/daughter, your new boss or a really big, tough and scary sort of person). However, as times changed we started to realise the role that a positive relationship between the student and the trainer had in an effective training program.

Not all of us are meant to be trainers

The alternative to FISH is CHIPS.


Consideration: Show consideration for for the student, their current strengths, their efforts and their ability to learn. They are not stupid just because because they do not understand your explanation or cannot replicate your demonstration. Remember that no matter how unskilled they appear, there is always something they can do better than you. Recognise their strengths and use them – there is no such thing as a ‘blank canvas’ in training.

Humility: You are human and you make mistakes, so admit them. They are not looking for perfection, they are looking for guidance. If you cannot do something it actually helps them to understand what the requirements of the job are. Remember once the shift is over, you are no different than they are.

Inspiration: Practice what you preach. The best way to get them to ‘be like you’ is to be someone that they want to be like. Be a shining example – before, during and after training. Be the absolute best that you can be at your job and show that you are still striving to be better. The key element is lead, not just direct.

Professionalism: This should go without saying. Know the standards of dress, bearing and conduct and stick to them. Be on time (early is better) and ready to work. Don’t leave early at every opportunity and restrict those breaks. Once again, this is the lead that your student follows. This doesn’t mean that you cannot be personal when the situation warrants (emotional support, empathy etc) but it does mean not making your problems your student’s.

Sincerity: Say what you mean, mean what you say. Feed back is always constructive and impersonal; we change behaviours, not feelings or opinions. No sarcastic, insulting or harassing comments.

Now not everybody will embrace these traits naturally (or at all in some cases). This means that some of us are more suited to the trainer’s disposition more than others. That’s not to say these can be overcome and in some circumstances students may want a trainer strong or weak in a particular area. The importance thing is that even though CHIPS aren’t necessarily the ‘be all’ of training, the FISH is certainly the ‘end all’.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 3, 2008 3:06 pm

    I guess I much prefer CHIPS to FISH! Great site with very extensive posts.

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