A day in the life of a business facilitator – Part 1

The first 5 myth busters before you decide whether this role is ‘for you’

 

25 years ago, I was offered my first job as a ‘trainer’ – that was the day my world changed forever. What I discovered was, that in this crowded market of learning and development professionals, to stand out, this job, whilst one of the most rewarding on the planet, is one of the most demanding as well.

An extraordinary collection of experiences, places visited and thousands of people met. However, as you look under the bonnet of the role….it is not as glamorous as it seems!

I’d therefore like to bust some myths in order to set the record straight! I have split these myths into two …one set that refer to the experiences of working away…and the second set describing the experiences of working with groups of adults.

Here are the first 5 myths about working away from home and the reality behind what some people see from the outside, in. Enjoy!

 

Myth One: Staying in hotels is very cool.

Well, …it kind of is, for the first couple of weeks. But soon, you begin to realise that most business hotels are by definition ‘average’. Now, ‘average’ may not be a bad thing….but it is also not a good thing. So doing that as part of what you do, 3-4 nights a week, every week, very quickly becomes ‘normal’. And when ‘average’ is normal…it sucks the juice out of every day.

When your experience at checking-in is ‘average’, then the room is ‘OK’ (with a taint of stale cigarette smoke – yes, even today, in these smoke free buildings), then the meal is ‘similar to the others’, the room air conditioning is ‘on and noisy’, the person in the next room has not considered the volume of the TV, you’re fed up of removing a million pillows from the bed (why are they even there?!), the shower dribbles rather than showers, and you still cannot get the lid off the shower gel because it is too tight, too small, and your hands are slippery……the glitz and glamour wears off. What this does mean, however, is that when you do find a good place to stay (and seriously, some of the best experiences are in the smaller, less ‘glamourous’ venues, where the staff really do care about your experience with them) – they really do stand out, and it changes ‘everything’, and brings a smile of deep, deep satisfaction to your experience.

 

Myth Two: Leaving your trousers behind is difficult to do.

Stuff happens when you are on the road, like the pen that leaks in your shirt pocket. Then there’s the extra day you need to stay away…and suddenly the wash-your-clothes-with-shampoo-and-roll-it-dry-in-the-bath-towel routine is executed one more time. You can plan for most…but not for all. It is hilarious to see yourself doing these things, but it happens.

Some parts of the world offer laundry as part of the service (or very cheaply), and if you leave your shoes outside the room, like magic, they will be sparkly clean in the morning – so get used to that and enjoy that benefit. But nothing can stop you from leaving your trousers behind. It happened to me. On two occasions. And with the same pair of trousers. First time – the hotel kindly forwarded them on to me. The second time? A mystery to this day. Try explaining that one when you get home……

 

Myth Three: Soap, biscuits and shower caps – a perk of the job?

What does it say about you, that when you take your six year old daughter to a hotel overnight for a great father and daughter bonding experience, that as she rushes excitedly through the hotel room door, the first thing she does is not to look at the view from the window, or see what channels are on the giant TV, or go “wow” at the spa bath in the bathroom? No…what she does is head directly to the teas and coffees, packets of biscuits, bathroom accessories (including shower cap, nail file and conditioner), grab the laundry bag, and fill it with her ‘stash’.

Looking on in amusement, I realised that this was her highlight and view of my world from seeing me come home every week. The kleptomaniac in me would never allow me to leave ‘something for free’ behind…and whilst I made a joke of the shower cap (each week leaving one under her pillow and building up the excitement of the wonderful gift that I had brought home)..she clearly thought this was my world. I drew a firm line at only taking with me the stuff that was intended to be taken.

To this day…..you know those little mini writing pads that are left by your bed…well I find them really useful back at home…don’t you?

 

Myth Four: You get to use the gym as much as you like

Absolute tosh 🙂 (but) this is more about my tendency to use the gym, rather than being in a hotel. I mean, I even have a (kind of) gym at home……even that doesn’t get used more than about once a month! However, it is a great selling point either to yourself or a loved one, when you are convincing yourselves that this life is one that you want to lead!

 

 

Myth Five: The venue does all the hard work with preparing the meeting room

Well, …you’d think so, wouldn’t you? THE most common challenge when you walk into a meeting room (and in our case a room for learning) is that, no matter how careful you are with your briefing ahead of the event, it is almost never as it should be. Here’s one…..we are very specific about not having a table at the ‘top’ of the room (usually / often a U-shape of tables)….there is almost always a ‘top table’ set out. Hilarious vs. somewhat frustrating. Or…..the room is way, way too small (despite clear instructions). Often the venue will ask “how many people” rather than “what size of room” and the room allocated will be half or less the size required. So…the implication? Always allow the best part of an hour to get the room set-up right. Or to move rooms (or in extreme cases, move venues). Top tip…..arriving the night before if possible, allows you time to check on this, sort anything out that needs sorting and then rest easy in the knowledge that the seemingly high obstacle has been hurdled.

 

Look out for Part 2 of ‘A day in the life of a business facilitator’, where I explore the next five myths of the job – the experiences of working with groups of adults and what really happens inside the training room…

If you found this article interesting please share and/or comment…..and if you would like to find out more, please contact Alex Selwood at alex@expressionforgrowth.com, or have a look at our website for inspiration.

Alex Selwood