|Guide to Developing Training Strategies (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 55 p.)|
There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.
Many training initiatives in disaster management face resistance from the beginning. Others which generate sufficient interest and become implemented eventually may fade out. It is observable that after a training activity participants return to their work high in enthusiasm. However, for a variety of reasons neither the individuals nor their organisations can sustain an interest in supporting training or initiating new programmes.
Resistance to training in disaster management is often voiced in the following ways:
· It costs money and diverts resources from other areas
· It consumes time and disrupts ongoing work
· It raises expectations that can not be fulfilled
· It causes disturbance in an organisation by questioning current practice
· Highlights problem areas that can not be resolved
· Staff expand in skill and knowledge and leave for better jobs
· It challenges the system
· It poses a threat to untrained staff or management
· Training out-puts are seldom implemented
· It is an academic exercise and a lot of talk with limited practical relevance to jobs
· Effectiveness can not be improved by training
· It only helps to promote the organisers
Such resistance is normal, natural, often inevitable, and frequently correct. However, resistance can be reduced if the reactions are anticipated in advance and their nature understood.
Resistance may arise from a variety of quite logical reasons:
· Training objectives and individual or organisational benefits are not clearly enough specified. Training must be given direction and a high degree of specificity.
· There may not be observed pressure in the organisation to become effective, to learm or improve skills. Rewards such as promotion, highlighting tangible benefits from training and commitment to the idea at the top management level, may help to create an interest in training.
It should also be pointed out that aiming for improved effectiveness is not necessarily a devaluation of current practice. It is possible to emphasise the strengths and highlight the importance of improvement,
· What is known is always safer than the unknown. There is often a fear that trained staff will be expected by their employers to take on too many added responsibilities or that their performance will be much improved as a result of the training. In reality, newly acquired skills and knowledge often result in a short-term decrease in performance while they are tested in implementation. Tolerance and flexibility should be injected into all pre-training discussions on expected outputs and performance.
· A person may have had a bad training experience prior to coming to the workshop. This may create a feeling of scepticism. This is a difficult form of resistance to overcome. Having had no previous experience is always better than having had a negative one. Faced with this situation as such, the trainer should try to understand what went wrong for the participant and in what aspects of training. Explain how the planned initiative differs in these areas. Try to maintain or regain the confidence of a group by involving them in this analysis.
With all forms of resistance the following actions can be useful in unfreezing the obstacles:
1. Make a diagnosis of the situation by seeking maximum involvement in the organisation. The process itself may increase awareness and interest in the idea of training and help to uncover the true nature of resistance which often may not be the reason openly stated.
2. Set objectives mutually: much resistance is simply based on misunderstanding and disagreement about goals. Mutual compromises can be made to define acceptable objectives.
3. Give clear information; unclear information is always open to interpretation and speculation which works against the intended training activity. Resistance to training is lower if the objectives, nature, methods, benefits and drawbacks are made clear to all concerned.
4. Discuss implementation; resistance to training is reduced if those to be trained and their organisations know what precise improvements to expect in doing their jobs in what sequence, at what time scale and for what end results.