Train Without a Trainer
By Peter Urs Bender

You can see for yourself your committee chairmen are having difficulties - with their own members and among themselves. Problems seem to be multiplying. At some committee meetings you can cut the tension with a knife. It may just be they're new to the job and don't know how to cope yet; or it may be there are personality differences that need to be addressed.

Whatever the reason, you feel some training would help. Often, companies or associations faced with this situation simply hire a professional to motivate staff and bring in some new ideas or skills.

There's no question, keynotes and seminars can be very useful. Thousands of association executives, managers, and companies can attest to that. However, there are several downsides to this approach.

Professional speakers or trainers cost thousands of dollars. The "time cost" -- for you, your managers, your chairs and staff to attend these meetings -- is even higher. What's more, the impact can be short-lived.

Is there an alternative? Yes.

Associations and companies could save a lot of money and aggravations annually by doing some of the training themselves. Organizations that are on tight budgest can still profit from the training, yet avoid the need to allocate scarce budget dollars.

Try the $20.00 solution -- buy a book.

That's right. Go out and find a good book on a company, life, or management. If you're the manager -- read it. If you find it useful, then buy a copy for every member of your staff.

Next, set up a weekly meeting, roughly an hour long. If you're worried about productivity, start 30 minutes before work begins, and end 30 minutes into the day (so both staff and the company have an "investment"). Serve fresh croissants, gourmet coffee, tea, and juice. Make the meeting informal and inviting.

Begin by sharing what you thought about the book and your vision for these meetings. Ask staff to read a chapter each week. Then discuss the book, in groups of eight or less, one chapter at a time.

If you're worried about using such a 'simple' solution, don't be. You will get expert advice from your own group or staff -- because they know best what the problem is. You do not need an outside expert to determine this.

There are many excellent books on the market but it must be a book that speaks to you. Whatever you buy, if it's by a respected author/trainer, you are in fact consulting "an expert" to help you. You will also be using them the way they were meant to be used.

However, learning a good idea is not enough. You must put it into action to turn your organization around. And that's the reason for holding your weekly "croissant circles."

Once staff have read the book and talked about it in meetings, they'll start thinking of ways to apply what they've learned. Don't tell them what to do -- ask them. Ask what excites them, and what they would do to improve the organization. Then act on it. By helping staff turn their ideas into positive results, you will create a more confident and motivated team.

If this process sounds like work -- you're right. But there are no quick fixes for turning an organization around, or making it great. You must show your staff you're committed to change. They will see that because in these circles you are there. They'll also start to see the power they have to shape their future.

Given opportunities to develop their own ideas and solutions -- guided by some of the world's top trainer/authors -- your staff will learn that leadership doesn't just come from above, it comes from within.


Peter Urs Bender is one of Canada’s most dynamic and entertaining business speakers. He lives and works out of Toronto. He is the author of four best-selling business books: Leadership from Within, Secrets of Power Presentations, Secrets of Power Marketing, Secrets of Face-to-Face Communication, and Gutfeeling.
To read excerpts from his books visit www.PeterUrsBender.com.