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“It’s obvious!” Well, no, it’s not. At least that’s what most of us in the training world have found. The old saying, “One man’s ‘Duh’ is another man’s ‘Huh?’” comes to mind when considering general housekeeping practices for in-person training.
Most of us are familiar with the term “housekeeping.” Housekeeping seems to be a softer word for communicating the standards of acceptable behavior without using the word “rules.” They are simply guidelines that reflect common sense and good manners.
It is important to introduce housekeeping within the first hour of the program to minimize confusion and disruption during the session. Sometimes these guidelines may need restating, or a gentle reminder given at various times throughout the course. If a phone rings in the middle of a session, it is usually because the participant has forgotten to turn their device off after a break. Most times the participant will be very apologetic.
Despite the different environments, constraints, and target audiences, I usually stick to a consistent list of housekeeping guidelines. I’m happy to share them with you below:
Training session hours are normally stated in advance; however, if it is a multi-day course, I will mention the start, break, and expected completion times at the beginning of each day.
Dress code for participants is often mentioned before the start of a course, but it’s a good idea to revisit this on the first day of training. I invite the learners to dress comfortably and to let me know if it is too hot or too cold in the training room.
The location of the restrooms should be identified at the beginning of the course.
4. Emergency Exits
The emergency exits are a need-to-know item and should be mentioned at the beginning of the course.
5. Cell Phones
The use of cell phones can be a challenge for any training attendee; however, this is the perfect opportunity to set reasonable guidelines for the use of mobile devices in general.
6. Group Dynamics
Group dynamics are important to any facilitator. The value of individual participation and expertise can be stressed by asking the participants to address the group as they ask or answer questions. Let your attendees know ahead of time that you’ll be changing table groups mid-way through the day, to give them an opportunity to work/brainstorm with different participants.
Supplies and materials aid in the participants learning. This is an opportunity to explain the course manual and other tools or resources available in the classroom.
The topic of lunch is always a question as participants may want to make plans. Cover where to eat, the time of the lunch break, and the length of breaks during housekeeping, as well as the location of coffee and snacks. I invite my learners to refill their coffee cups as often as they like. Caffeine and sugar are my friends in the classroom!
9. After Hours
Availability after hours allows you to invite participants to discuss off-topic questions or areas that need clarification. It’s an open and sincere invitation to have one-on-one conversations about areas of interest.
Questions are always encouraged. I don’t want people to wait to ask them—it’s important to address questions as they arise. However, if timing is an issue, make sure you point out the Parking Lot, so people know where to “park” their questions until you have time to address them.
I have found it effective to simply invite agreement and input from the learners during the discussion of housekeeping at the beginning of the course. This allows the learners to take ownership and responsibility for their actions.
Now, I’d like to hear from you. What’s in your top 10 list?
This article was first published January 19, 2015.