Posted by: Tania | September 23, 2012

Designing Learner Centred Training

I am currently consulting into Airservices, the organisation that specifically looks after the training of Air Traffic Controllers and Aviation Rescue Fire Fighters here in Australia. It’s an interesting organisation to be a part of and aviation is certainly an exciting industry to be involved with. One of the challenges faced by this organisation, and others which deliver highly specialised training and qualifications, is how to design training so that it firstly covers all the technical and operational content requirements of the qualifications and the job, and still be interesting and engaging for learners.

One of the strategies that is working well is to engage learning designers who are trainers and facilitators themselves to design the learning sessions, and have Subject Matter Experts on hand to provide content expertise. Good trainers and facilitators for the most part see learning from the learners perspective, so when we design training materials it’s the learners who are at the forefront of our designs. This is a far more effective approach than engaging content experts to ‘write the manuals’.

So what are some of the strategies for learner centred training?

Firstly you need to remember there are 3 questions that learners will always ask when presented with new material:

  1. What is this?
  2. Why is this important for me?
  3. How will I use it (on the job)?

And the key to answering each of the questions is to keep it simple. Learners in workplaces don’t want to be impressed with our academic prowess and our ability to deliver a thesis on the content. They simply need it presented to them in the simplest, most easily understood and useful way. We need to include practical, on the job examples, rather than theoretical speculations, continuously relating the theory back to what they need for the jobs they do or will be doing. Assessments also need to be designed with this in mind.

Another successful strategy when designing learner centred training is to incorporate as many alternative presentation aids as possible. You can do this by:

  • trawling sites like You Tube for video clips related to your topics
  • finding people who speak on your topic or industry experts to visit the training room and give a live presentation
  • recording interviews with experts to show during the workshop
  • asking students to do all of the above and more!

Designing learner centred training is about thinking seriously about who your learners are, and walking around in their shoes for the day, to really try and understand what inspires them, motivates them, interests them and makes them want to learn. Yes, we could give them a very comprehensive training manual which they should read, but consider instead how to make the content come alive for them!

There is a lot of talk around at the moment about the application of the 70:20:10 model to the way organizations develop their people.

The 70:20:10 learning framework was developed by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo at the Center for Creative Leadership and is based on empirical research about how we learn. It is essentially a model which describes the way that learning takes place in most situations in the workplace. The model outlines that 70% of learning takes place through experience – actually doing the thing we are trying to learn, 20% of learning takes place with the help of the people around us – the relationships we have at work with coaches, mentors, managers and peers giving us feedback, and opportunities for reflection on what we’re learning, and finally 10% of learning happens in ‘formal’ situations such as training courses and workshops.

What are the implications of this for Learning and People Development in organizations? Quite simply this – L&D professionals need to now start thinking beyond the traditional ‘tick a box’ training solutions where the identified learning need was traditionally met through workshop or course attendance. Research clearly indicates that it’s simply not the way workplace learning happens best, and frankly in current lean times, not a great return on investment for the L&D budget.

So what should L&D departments be looking to provide instead? We need to change our focus from learner centred to a focus on productivity and performance, where learning experiences are identified and supported within the work environment. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Work with managers to identify on-the-job opportunities for staff to learn new skills
  • Set up small project teams for new initiatives, where each member brings a unique set of skills from which others can learn
  • Create time and space for regular reflection on skills learnt
  • Work as a true business partner with other parts of the organisation so opportunities for cross collaboration between departments or teams can be identified
  • Work with managers to identify ‘subject matter/skills experts’ and create mentoring and shadowing opportunities
  • Create opportunities for networking and relationship building between different parts of the organisation, and externally
  • Identify and create action learning opportunities
  • Provide time and space for workers to congregate and share experiences
  • Encourage professional membership to relevant industry associations
  • Provide workplace coaching using external and internal coaches – and the opportunity for managers and others to learn how to coach
  • Facilitate networking, self discovery and self directed learning and teaching through blogs, wikis, and technology assisted knowledge bases

For further information on how to re-focus the L&D function in your organisation, contact Tania Tytherleigh at

Posted by: Tania | April 28, 2011

The WorkPlace Coach on Stress Pt 2

Last blog entry we looked at 2 key stress indicators and how to manage them:  Losing Control, and Busy-ness. This time I’d like to share what I’ve found works when you notice Changes in Body Language and Not Doing Enough…

Changes in Body language.

How to identify this
It’s vital that you become aware of changes in how someone moves, or presents non-verbally. The importance here is in the change rather than the behaviour. Let me explain. For some people moving quickly, using sudden movements, clipped tones and short sentences is their default position in times of little or no stress. In times of high stress, this behaviour can either get magnified or will manifest as the complete opposite.

The antidote:
Awareness of the default low stress behaviour is the first key to managing in times of high stress, and the antidote lies in the NLP principles of strategies and acting ‘as if’. The principle of strategies teaches us that our outcomes are achieved by following a set strategy – or pattern of behaviours – to achieve specific outcomes. A change of strategy will cause a different outcome. Following the same strategy will produce the same outcome. So, if we want to achieve a feeling of confidence and control – we need only follow the pattern of behaviour that we use to achieve this.

Let me give you a real example:  my 16 year old has experienced what it takes (and looks, sounds and feels like) to achieve excellent results in her school work. Over the last couple of years, she has developed successful study strategies, review strategies, and evaluation of performance strategies that has seen her get As and A+s.  This year, for reasons known only to herself, those strategies have been discarded and new ones have been adopted. The result? You guessed it.

The work I have done with her has been around re-visiting the strategies that used to work for her, and adapting them to the new demands of VCE studies. But of course a crisis of confidence has occurred. To deal with this we simply reviewed what a ‘confident and successful’ person might do when approaching exams. We mapped the behaviour in terms of what ‘confident and successful’ looks, sounds and feels like.  And then, for a while, she acted ‘as if’ that were her. Results? Predictable!

A feeling of not doing ‘enough’.

How to identify this:
 I observed this in a workplace where a manager was experiencing high levels of stress everything she had tried to resolve a workplace issue with her staff had seemingly not worked.  Her words were “I haven’t done enough to manage this, I just don’t know what else I can do.”

The antidote:
A very simple question gives beautiful clarity to help address this issue. “What does ‘enough’ look like to you?” The answer will usually be a set of actions that need to be taken which define ‘enough’. This then becomes a really simple and achievable ‘tick the box’ exercise.

The main message in identifying and managing stress is to be alert to the key indicators. Once you know what you’re really dealing with, the solution is much simpler.

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Secret Trainers Business – Ice Breakers, Energisers and Mix-em-up Activities


Secret Trainers Business – Virtual Presentations


Professional Series Masterclass – Dealing with Difficult People

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This month has been an interesting one for me. In my workspace, I’ve been involved in a number of consulting assignments into organisation’s and workplaces whose people are showing signs of debilitating workplace stress. At home, my previously cool calm and collected 16 year old is buckling under the pressure of VCE. It’s surprising, with hindsight, how similarly stressful behaviours manifest.

Over the next few blog entries, I thought I would share what I’ve learned and observed. I’ll begin this series by looking at two classic symptoms of stress:  Losing control and Busy-ness,  and suggest some useful strategies that I’ve engaged that help people deal with times of high stress.

  • A feeling of loss of control.

    How to identify this:
    One staff member expressed it this way “I feel like I’m juggling everything. If I lose control over one thing, the rest will come crashing down.”  (I sometimes refer to this as the ‘chicken little’ syndrome!). Others will say more obliquely “{This} always happens to me”.

    The antidote:
    What we focus on is what we see, to the exclusion of everything else. Avoid seeing ‘the sky falling’ by looking for and gathering evidence to prove that, in fact, the sky stays firmly in place. Some great questions to ask might be:

    • What’s the one thing you/I can let go of that will have the least impact overall? List the benefits you will get from doing this.
    • What’s one thing that needs to happen for you/me to feel that control has returned? How will you make this happen?
    • Tell me about a similar time when you felt in control. What are you doing that’s similar and different to what you are doing now?
    • Tell me about a similar time when {this} hasn’t happened to you.
  • Busy-ness or too much time spent doing a task, with little observable progress.

How to identify this:
You might hear “I’ve been doing this for hours and I’m not getting anywhere”. Or you might observe someone in a constant state of ‘busy-ness’, but never seeming to actually achieve or produce anything.

The antidote:
There are a couple! I’ve been reading a great book called “Brain Rules” by John Medina which essentially examines the optimal conditions under which our brain functions. One of the ‘rules’ explains how our brains need oxygen to function well. Medina suggests that when we are stuck on a problem a great solution is to take a walk while trying to solve it. This gets the blood – and oxygen – flowing to our brains to maximise our problem solving powers. It logically follows that regular exercise – at least 30 minutes per day, the research is telling us – ensures a constant maximum flow of oxygen to our brains and creates that optimum brain performance condition.

Exercise is not the only way to overcome the ‘overwork, under achieve’ issue. The psychological principle of ‘chunking’ teaches us that we can effectively deal with a discrete number (7 plus or minus 2!) of chunks of information at any one time. As a trainer I ensure that information I present is presented as 5 – 7 key points. I change what learners are doing every 7 – 10 minutes.  Someone stuck on a task might try to break it down into 5 – 7 smaller, more achievable jobs. Or change how they work or take a short break (even to switch tasks) every ten minutes or so.


Trust this helps if you are, or someone in your world is, experiencing stress. Next time we will look at changing body language and never doing ‘enough’!

**Breaking News from the Master Trainers Institute Australia**

We are launching the first of our Secret Trainers Business Webinars on Thursday April 14 2011 at 12pm  – Discover the 7 Essential Qualities of a Great Trainer. Registration is free. If you would like to register for this event email:

Upcoming workshops in Melbourne:

Wednesday 13 April – Secret Trainers Business:  The Influential Trainer

Friday 21 April – Professional Series MasterClass:  Effective Workplace Communications

To register for these events, please go to


Posted by: Tania | January 13, 2011

The Best Laid Plans – Lessons from Queensland

At the time of writing this blog, the people of Queensland are coming to terms with what would have to be the most unanticipated catastrophic events Australia has seen for decades, if ever.  An “inland tsumami’, whole townships swept away, the Brisbane River turning the Queensland’s capital back into the flood plain it was. Weather Bureau chief Jim Davidson commented: We don’t always have the capacity to see this before it happens.

It’s a timely reminder. At the beginning of our year, when workplaces and businesses are planning for the year ahead, we need to remember that sometimes we just don’t know what could be ahead. That unanticipated, catastrophic events happen. So what can we do to ensure we equip ourselves, and our people, to best face what we can’t even conceive yet? Here are 7 lessons we can learn from the people of Queensland about preparing for the unexpected:

  1. Accept that unplanned catastrophic events happen:  create the space to have open, frank and honest discussions about what could come out of left field to throw you off track. Anticipate the unexpected.
  2. Focus on what’s important:  Toowoomba mayor Peter Taylor, when asked about what the priority will be for the recovery efforts said:  “We’ll focus on the people first. Property can be repaired and replaced. People can’t.”
  3. Have a clear understanding about what needs to be done:  Understand clearly what you are wanting to achieve this year, and ensure that your people know and support this vision too. Focusing on the destination – not the journey – will mean that minds are open to the possibilities of taking another route, if the one planned is somehow sabotaged.
  4. Know that sometimes the plan must change: The first solution, or pathway, you identify will not be the only one. It may be the best one in current circumstances, but if circumstances change so must your solutions. Identify your alternatives. Keep asking “And what else?”
  5. Don’t ignore the warning signs:  Keep your eye on the ball and put processes in place that allow for constant and continuous scanning. Look for signs and patterns that an unexpected event might be about to occur.
  6. Believe that more can be achieved together than alone: Ensure you have a great support network that extends beyond your own work team. This means focusing on building relationships throughout the organisation and eliminating ‘silo’ thinking and practice. Look for opportunities for collaboration between teams and departments.
  7. Remember that even the smallest tugboat can avert disaster: Invest in some training in developing personal and workplace resilience.

 Upcoming Events:


Thursday 11 February

Free Networking Event: The Learning Experience

If you are passionate about Learning and Development and want to meet others who share that passion – then come along on Thursday 11 February to DiMattina’s Restaurant in Carlton. You’ll hear Tania Tytherleigh, the WorkPlace Coach and Director of the Master Trainers Institute Australia talk about 3 ways to give your learners or audience an experience to remember.

Time: 5.30pm – 7.00pm
Venue:  DiMattina’s Restaurant, 306 Lygon St Carlton

16 February 2011

Secret Trainer’s Business:  Scared Speechless??

A fun, skill building workshop for anyone who is required to present to groups and wants to do so professionally, with presence and pizzazz! Information and registrations here at:

24 February 2011

Rules of Engagement:  How to influence anyone, anywhere, anytime!

Learn the secrets of social influence and ways to maximize your persuasion potential. For more information and to register go to:


10-11 March 2011

Professional Trainer Certification Program
Induction, Orientation and MasterClass1:  How to run a killer workshop

For more information about the Professional Trainer Certification and to be sent a Course Outline email:

Posted by: Tania | December 17, 2010

A quick post before Christmas!

following my last post, would like to share this movie I put together for my “Unleashing Superheroes” workshop.


Posted by: Tania | December 3, 2010

10 lessons in resilience

I’ve been thinking and talking alot about resilience lately – in all different forums and formats. Teaching our young people success strategies to help them face uncertain futures, building a resilient workforce, even a resilient business.

Here is a collection (constantly being added to!) of what I’ve learned so far about resilience. Feel free to add your own lessons – look forward to reading them.

  1. Being resilient doesn’t mean bouncing back. If you just bounce back to where you started you’re likely to take the same hit. It’s more about bouncing forward, or at least landing in a place that’s different from where you were!
  2. Resilience is boosted by knowing clearly where it is you want to be or what it is you want to achieve. Keeping the dream alive gives you the motivation and inspiration to keep going even when things are blocking your way.
  3. Knowing your strengths helps you to be resilient. Then, when obstacles present themselves, you simply have to recall the last time you got through something similar. Challenges in life are often similar – just dressed in different costumes and contexts.
  4. Your life travelling companions help you to become resilient. Choose them carefully. You need role models, mentors, champions, reflectors and gap fillers (see my last post) as a minimum!
  5. Being proactive – making things happen rather than letting things happen – minimises unexpected hits.
  6. Understanding that there is no failure, only feedback, and the opportunities to do something differently builds resilience.
  7. Resilient people are those who appreciate and are grateful for every thing that they experience. Keep a gratitude journal.
  8. Look for ways to enable others to achieve their dreams. You are part of something bigger. Take the focus off yourself and watch your resilience grow.
  9. Resilient people think creatively. Remember that life is multidimensional not linear.
  10. Resilience and optimism are symbiotic. You can’t have one without the other. Look for the good in everything that happens. There is always a reason, even if it hasn’t revealed itself just yet.

I’d like to share this profound video for some ultimate lessons in resilience – Randy Pausch, author of “The Last Lecture”, delivering his:



Posted by: Tania | November 15, 2010

What are your Secrets to a Successful Life?

I recently presented at a conference on a topic that is close to home – how to teach the young people in our lives how to ‘succeed’ in life. Success Secrets, if you like, the things I wished I was told decades ago. Advice accumulated over the last 30 years, that is constantly being added to! A real work in progress – so feel free to add to them.

What are YOUR secrets to a “successful” life?

Enjoy the presentation attached. Obviously it will be a work in progress

Click on this link:  Yes you can


I love this time of the year. Spring Racing Fever has hit, and the countdown to Christmas has begun. My girls and I have been in the final flurry of fascinators and fashions as we put the finising touches on our ‘frocks’ for the races. Suddenly everyone is an expert on which horse will take out the Cup. And Christmas merchandise has hit the stores, creating that annual kick of magic (if not panic – I did promise I was going to be more organised with gift shopping this year!).

There’s an expectant air of something exciting on the way. And at Master Trainers Institute headquarters, we have been busy putting the final touches on what’s going to be the most amazing Trainer certification course ever seen! Launching in February next year it’s going to be an exciting year for the lucky few who are accepted into this program. The Certification is for L&D professionals, training consultants and those who want to learn the art of running great training programs. Curious? It’s not for everyone, and we can’t guarantee you’ll get a place. Happy to have a chat though. Drop us a line at

Good luck to all at the Races – may the best horses win!


Posted by: Tania | September 16, 2010

Message of poverty, hope and achievement

Had the priviledge of hearing Li Cun Xin, author of Mao’s Last Dancer, speak at an event today. Some profound learnings for me. I will just list them here, and think about them for a while.

1. What was the moment that changed your life? Li’s was being selected, at random, to join Madame Mao’s dance troupe. However, he was quick to point out that with the moment came a responsibility to do something with it. It was only that he chose to make the most of the opportunity that brought him the success. Profound learning:  it’s not the moment but what you do with it.

2. Many years later, he recounted his conversation to the teacher who pointed this emaciated child out to the authorities. “Why did you choose me?” he asked. “To this day I don’t know.” she replied. As teachers, trainers, learning facilitators – what a responsibility we have to change lives. Profound learning:  we need to start doing this more deliberately.

3. His work only became his passion when he found the reason why he was doing it. He hated ballet for many years. It took another gifted teacher to understand what drove the young Li (his love for his family) and who then joined the dots for him. Once he realised how his dancing linked him to his family, his passion for ballet grew. Profound learning 1:  you find passion for work by looking beyond the task to the reason why we do it. Profound learning 2:  as teachers, our job is to join the dots.

Apologies for no entries since July! It’s been a busy time – busy is good, not writing here not so good. Have promised myself to be more dedicated to this.

More news coming out soon.


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