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Are you in the Driving Seat?

On Friday, I facilitated one of our regular Discovery Days. Discovery Days are a virtual workshop for professional trainers that give us an opportunity to learn from each other and for me to showcase activities and training materials in Trainers’ Library. Friday’s sessions were as interesting and varied as usual with sessions on menopause awareness and employee engagement.

For myself, I decided to run a module that uses one of my favourite training design tools; metaphor. In the example I chose, a car journey is used as a metaphor for change. 

It’s a simple but powerful activity that asks participants to reflect on how it feels to be in different seats on a long journey, and what they could do to make the journey easier or more comfortable for other passengers.

There’s the driver, who of course controls the route and the speed at which you travel, perhaps with input from other passengers (some of which, might not be welcome). Some people will like this seat, but on a journey that involves windy roads, and a variety of obstacles, it can also feel scary having all that responsibility, particularly if you’re not a confident driver. 

But what about the passengers? The front seat passenger will be able to see the route ahead and perhaps offer guidance to the driver, unless they’re asleep. And, of course, their ability and willingness to make a positive contribution to the journey won’t just depend on their wakefulness; it’ll be heavily influenced by the relationship they have with the driver.

And what about the back seat passengers, with no clear view of the road ahead, perhaps being thrown around when the car swerves unexpectedly or hits a pothole they couldn’t see. 

In our scenario, one of the back seat passengers is a foreign hitchhiker, who might only have a limited understanding of what the others are saying? In fact, they might have very little idea of what’s going on and could be quietly praying that the car is indeed going in a direction they want to travel.

By now, the parallels between the passengers in a car and those going through a change journey at work should be apparent. There’s the driver, the person or people with responsibility for delivering change and around them the various passengers, including the hitchhiker, who might, for example, be a new starter.

Think about change going on at work around you now. Where are you sitting? How does it feel? Are you perhaps sitting in the driver seat wishing others understood how challenging it is? Or perhaps you’re in the passenger seat, quietly seething and thinking to yourself how much better things would be if you were driving! 

Metaphors provide a fun but powerful way to explore feelings, emotions and behaviours at work, and can help both managers and their teams understand different perspectives and responses to what’s happening. It’s why it’s a tool I come back to time and again when I want to design training material that engages both trainers and their participants and provides the scope for learner-led lightbulb moments.

If you’re a member of Trainers’ Library and would like to know more about this specific activity, you’ll find the face-to-face version here, and the remote delivery version here.

If you’re not a Trainers’ Library member but would like to know more about membership and what it gives Learning and Development professionals, why not take a look at our website or give us a call to arrange a 1:1 tour. You might be surprised by just how much experiential and original training material membership gives you access to, and how much time and money it could save when you need to adapt or create work-based training. 

Until next time...

February 21 2023Rod Webb

Rod Webb

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