Team Management Systems

Please Practice What You Preach!

By Jan Bentley
Copyright © Team Management Systems. All rights reserved.

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As soon as I became involved in the human resource and training and development industry I was addicted. I attended my first workshop conducted by Team Management Systems coauthor Dr Charles Margerison and from that moment I knew I wanted to be part of it. The majority of the people who attended the workshop were serious in their quest to foster excellence in teamwork and to improve understanding within their organizations or with their clients. I found the interaction on the workshop stimulating and different from anything I had previously experienced.

Training and development is an area which greatly differs from the cut and thrust of business. The challenge is in designing workshops to achieve everything from awareness of differing learning styles to improved performance on a diminishing budget. Effective training and development sometimes seems like the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Like a good comedian, a training & development (T&D) specialist needs to have a feel for the audience and, like a talented actor, have the power to attract and keep their attention. Facilitating to a room of people who have been told to attend or think that any form of training is a waste of time, must be similar to facing the enemy in war. Preparation and nerves of steel are essential.

A T&D specialist must have the ability to change direction at a moment's notice, round up the audience when they stray and lead them down the desired track. A T&D specialist needs to be factual enough to be taken seriously, plausible enough to be believed and persuasive enough to deliver the message.

In other words, a T&D specialist needs to be a designer, teacher, actor, comedian, politician and counselor, all rolled into one. A T&D specialist has to promote the vision of an organization, show employees the way to achieving that vision and still have enough energy to keep abreast of the latest techniques.

It would seem that T&D specialists, particularly private consultants working alone, have to be a team in themselves. Customer service is at the top of the list of priorities to guarantee customer satisfaction. It is important that T&D specialists identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Like the cobbler who had no time to shoe his children, T&D specialists often overlook the development of their own skills, until problems arise.

The Margerison-McCann Types of Work Wheel can be an easy model to use to prevent problems before they arise or provide a solution quickly. The eight Types of Work functions and Linking apply to any organization industry or profession. I have listed below how each could apply to a T&D specialist.


Collect information on your customer and their needs.

  • Make sure you know the desired outcomes of the training.
  • Know who the participants will be and their role in the organization.
  • Discover what training they have had before.
  • Keep up-to-date with current trends.


Design a program to fulfill all their requirements.

  • Remember to bear in mind differing learning styles.
  • Use innovative designs to stimulate interest and retain the knowledge.


Promote your abilities and yourself effectively.

  • Make sure you can deliver all you promise.
  • Vary your communication style to suit the customer.


Assess all the program designs to ensure they fulfil the requirements.

  • Design suitable materials to compliment the program.
  • Make sure that the outcomes take into account the organization's vision.
  • Develop plans for changes in program direction.


Organize all the materials and resources needed for the programme.

  • Make sure all contingencies have been catered for.
  • Arrange for the equipment to be available at the venue.
  • Pack your training toolkit to contain all the aids, pens and training tools needed.


Ensure all the necessary materials are available in good time.

  • If the materials are to be delivered, plan to send them ahead of time to allow for unplanned delays.
  • Produce a timetable as a guideline for yourself.


  • Check that the venue is suitable for the number of participants.
  • Inspect all the materials are correct.
  • Follow up deliveries to satisfy yourself that they have arrived safely and in good condition.
  • Read the contract and check its contents before signing.
  • Match the quotation and invoice correctly and check all the materials and expenses are included.


Ensure your program is of a high standard and well-prepared.

  • Make sure that the programs reflect the learning you wish to impart.
  • Does the program meet your own criteria of ethics and values as well as those of your customer?
  • Are your training aids in good condition?


Communicate regularly with your customer.

  • Make sure that the customer knows all the details of the program.
  • Confirm all the quotes, plans and details in writing to avoid misunderstanding.

I admire many T&D specialists as they are gifted with facilitation skills. They can bring the course alive and give the participants a commitment to learning and a feeling of self-esteem and confidence.

Practicing what you preach and being critical of your own strengths and weaknesses, aids personal development. The techniques which you use to successfully put others on the right track, can always be used on yourself. Never think for a moment that you do not need to learn. I could relate numerous examples of T&D specialists who have neglected one of the Types of Work and found themselves in difficulty. I am sure many of you would have tales of your own.

A little time spent in self analysis and ensuring that all the Types of Work are audited regularly, will help move you from being a good T&D specialist to an outstanding one.

Copyright © Team Management Systems. All rights reserved.

Jan Bentley (formerly Stewart) is a freelance writer and master trainer for Margerison-McCann Team Management Systems. Jan is the coauthor with Dick McCann of The Half-Empty Chalice and Aesop's Management Fables.

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