If you were given a tool which helps you navigate through your professional development as trainer, what would you do with it?
When I started my path as trainer, we were given what can be considered a map. It was composed with a timeline with the starting point being the end of my train-the-trainer event, no end point, which is cool, and several milestones presented as events a trainer can attend to develop knowledge and/or skills with no particular structure.
Then, many years later, Mirna Šmidt and Goran Kelečić developed a self-assessment tool for Youth Trainers Academy with the aim to support professional growth using regular self-assessment structured in a way that encourage exploration: the Trainer’s Compass.
The Trainer’s Compass has been created to provide structured self-reflection, to help facilitate the understanding of trainer’s attributes, and provide insight on trainers’ development.
The Compass is composed of 4 main areas guided by 4 main questions: Who am I? What do I know? What can I achieve? and What do I do?
Trainer’s attitude represents the foundations of a trainer’s practice. It holds the structure for knowledge, skill, and behaviour. It is the core of the trainer, the first and most important thing the trainees will see, feel, connect to, and what people will remember.
The knowledge a trainer needs can be divided into knowledge regarding how people work and learn, the knowledge essentially needed to facilitate the learning process, and knowledge related to the content of the training being delivered.
Next to knowledge, trainers also need some well-developed transferring skills – group of skills that can be roughly put under two umbrellas of communication skills, as main tool for knowledge exchange, and delivering skills, making it accessible for the audience to master the skills related to the content.
No matter who one IS and all the things that one KNOWS and CAN, it is not worth much if one doesn’t DO something with those experiences, skills and knowledge. The impact of a trainer is only as far reaching as the actions and behaviour that s/he exhibit. Walking the talk and demonstrating what (s)he is teaching in her/his own behaviour, both in training and everyday life, is absolutely essential for a great trainer.
Using Trainers Compass
Trainer’s Compass was developed for TTT (Train the trainer) and that context still remains one of the most applicable places to use it – in presenting trainers’ competences to new trainers, but also in facilitating their self-reflection and planning of their own development path.
Another great place to use Trainer’s Compass is in any sort of event that aims at developing trainers’ skills – such as Train Old Trainer, Trainers’ Meeting, Train Advance Trainer and similar events. In these contexts, the Compass will likely be used as a framework for self-questioning and to explore own strong and weak sides as a trainer, as well as to find focus on what would be the most impactful next area to focus on in own self-development as a trainer. It could also be used as a structure for receiving feedback from trainer colleagues.
The way I personally use the tool, is that few times a year, I pick one or two slices and dedicate time to develop the related aspect of my compass. Like the time when I started a quest to develop my understanding of Neuro-Linguistic Programming basics, more the advanced communication aspect. I discovered the topic through fellow trainers and some parts of it seemed to respond to attitude elements I was receiving feedback on and wanted to improve (attitude related).
Some months later, I got my hand on a cool introductory book which had quite many activities related to the topic. After reading the book and discussing with my trainers’ colleagues to develop my understanding of the topic (knowledge acquisition). I chose some exercises and decided to spend 2 weeks developing the skills related to each of them (behaviour). About 2 months later, I delivered a session to which I included some parts from the topic for the first time (skills).
Building your own Compass
As one can see, all the mentioned elements are part of a life-long process, to be achieved through a lot of personal work and numerous training hours. The tool is not fixed. Some elements might be added or changed in each quadrant though what is important is the reflection associated with it. Adapting it to the context, situation, audience and goals of the activity is absolutely recommended and encouraged. What is important is that every trainer should develop a vision of his/her future trainer self, and invest energy in change to develop individual skills for personal and/or professional use.
Similar approach with Compass can also be developed for leaders, coaches, or any other role that would benefit of clear framework of competencies as a guidance for reflection and planned self-development.
About author of the article
Herve Tunga is an IT Development Engineer, Life Coach and Freelance Trainer with broad experience in managing IT technical projects, strategic development and organisational transformation initiatives in international environment.
Feeling Magnets are playful and profound tools that support people to connect with their emotions, to express them and to understand them. They serve as conversation starters and prompts that make feelings easier to acknowledge and speak about.
As you might have guessed, they are actual magnets that are flexible and easy to move around, mirroring the fact that feelings change constantly – as the feelings change, we simply move the magnets around. Feelings don’t define us. They are not permanent and therefore much less scary.
Why use Feeling Magnets?
Feeling Magnets prompt people to find the right words for how they feel. This is really powerful. Specifically naming our feelings decreases the power of uncomfortable feelings and anchors the pleasant ones. And once people know what they are feeling, they can also respond in a more informed and conscious way. Essentially, Feeling Magnets help people train their emotional literacy, which is a key component and foundation of Emotional Intelligence.
At the same time, many people struggle to address their emotions openly as they might consider them taboo or private. Through these playful and tactile tools, emotions don’t seem so unapproachable anymore. Conversations rise to new levels, deeper connections are fostered between people and ultimately, work becomes more fun and efficient.
Ideas for application
The simplicity of the Feeling Magnets tools means they can be used in endless different ways. Users often come up with new ways to integrate them into workshops, team buildings and coaching.
Here are some of the most popular ways that the Feeling Magnets are used:
Teams & Partnerships: Draw a Venn diagram on a whiteboard with one circle for each person (up to 3 people). Put the Feeling Magnets around the Venn diagram. Each person selects the emotions they are feeling at this particular moment or in relation to something specific and places these into their circle. If multiple people are experiencing the same emotion they put move that magnet into the overlapping part of the Venn diagram. This can be done at regular intervals (ex. Hourly) or in specific moments (ex. Before big decisions, during heated discussions or in relation to challenging topics). This helps to put into context what each person is saying and also brings our emotional intelligence more into the forefront.
Meetings: Each person in a meeting has a set of Feeling Magnets and selects how they are feeling within the box. The first few minutes of a meeting are spent with each person sharing how they are feeling at that moment and optionally they can share some context if they feel inclined to do so. The same practice could be used to end a meeting. This gives everyone a sense of the emotional temperature in the room and allows everyone to feel more at ease once they have identified their own emotions.
Ice-breaker: In small teams, ask participants to sort the emotions by intensity and pleasantness. This generates quite some debate as people might not always agree and can lead to interesting discussions as people give examples from their own lives to prove their points. With the Feeling Bodies, ask the teams to identify which emotions fit with each of the figures. With various teams this can also be done as a competition.
Coaching: Begin each session with the client selecting how they are feeling at that moment and how they would like to feel by the end of the session. The Feeling Magnets can also be used during the session to explore how the client would feel if they made a specific choice or went down a particular road.
Where to get Feeling Magnets?
Feeling Magnets are available in the US via www.feelingmagnets.com and in South Africa via www.takealot.com . Coming soon to the rest of the world and if you can’t wait, contact Manuela@feelingmagnets.com
About the author of the article
A driven and determined young professional who came to realize that rational thinking alone wouldn’t bring her the life she wanted. That was when she discovered the power of emotions to guide us through life and create the life we most want. Since then she has dedicated herself to helping people discover a powerful side of themselves and to master their emotions through coaching, trainings and her company Feeling Magnets. Manuela strongly believes that education today focuses heavily on the mind and is missing the emphasis on the other parts of us (body, heart and spirit). She aims to help us fill the gaps we may have.
My adventure with the empathy toys started by a TEDx video; one during which Ilana Ben-Ari presented the outcomes of a school project which turned into a business idea.
The original assignment was: design a navigational aid for the blind and how a visually impaired person might get others to help them answer them. By making the toys, they realised that from a tool meant to engage conversation and bridge blind and sighted folks, they actually created a learning tool designed for people of almost any ability and age, as well as a facilitation tool for workplaces of every shape and size.
Toy for empathy, from TwentyOneToys, is a blindfolded puzzle game that can only be solved when players learn to understand each other. The company elaborated guidebooks to help game masters, facilitators, to carry on the activity ensuring participants would get the maximum out of the experience.
For students, the games proposed are designed to reveal the relationship between empathy, creativity, and learning. For organisation, it’s a toolset which generates discussion about the role of empathy and communication in the workplace. They expected insights’ domains are in creative dialogue, teamwork & collaboration, making connection, improved performance, and more authentic interpersonal communication.
About incorporation in training, it's a communication game by excellence. For trainers, it’s a great tool to use in a classroom. I personally used them as:
This could be used on Conflict solving, Innovation, Intercultural communication, Emotional Intelligence to name a few from their manual for organisations. One can adjust the rules according to the point s/he wants to make.
I used my set on trains, busses, Leadership Summer School, YTA and other NGO events. Of course, the key to all the game lies in the debriefing, when participants extract their own learning from the experience. It is quick enough to be able to repeat the experience and most of the times, the second time happened to be significantly better than the first.
Here is a video from 2013:
I have been lucky enough to be in touch with the TwentyOne Toys team, providing feedback at the launch of the product. We also discussed elements such the advantage or not of playing in mother language and other findings. They are pretty cool fellows.
You can find more details about the tools here: http://empathytoy.com/
About author of the article
Herve is an IT Development Engineer, Life Coach and Freelance Trainer with broad experience in managing IT technical projects, strategic development and organisational transformation initiatives in international environment.
Mirna , initiator of Trainers Toolbox, is a trainer in love with training tools and innovative games, positive psychology, NLP, and everything that makes learning more impactful and engaging.