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5 ways to get the most out of inclusive leadership training

March 14, 2021
Diversity & Inclusion

Many of us are on a quest to boost our knowledge in inclusive leadership. We don’t want to be left behind. 2020 has taught us that traditional one-off training isn’t sufficient. With the unfolding of additional calls for inclusion and the world’s diversification, we haste to invest in diversity, inclusion, and equity training to learn and deal with our blind spots. Upon the last glance, the spend was upwards of 8 billion dollars. If you’re there and dancing with discomfort, here are five strategies to have optimal results for your investment.

Plan Wisely

Plan for success by factoring in managing time, budget, and requirements for your project. It is prudent to flex the amount of content and the training approach for optimal engagement for timing. For afternoon deliveries, account for remote and 2021 fatigue. Add multiple checkpoints to gain feedback on whether the content is resonating with participants.

The saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Therefore, manage expectations accordingly. If there’s a small budget with a huge ask, expect the other project parameters (time/scope) to adjust accordingly. Limited funds could directly impact customization requirements. Demonstrate empathy for all stakeholders in the planning process. It is no easy feat to deliver training that changes lives and cultures on a shoestring budget. Be patient and acknowledge that this is a journey. Also, consider providing bite-sized pieces of content with multiple training offerings to allow participants to comprehend and implement learnings.

Create A Psychologically Safe Environment

Inclusive Leadership training evokes strong emotions (positive or negative) seeking an outlet. Psychological Safety is a foundational element for impactful education results. Expert Amy Edmondson says employees at work engage freely without fear of punishment when they feel safe. Consider the current culture and its unwritten rules. Is there a message that rewards professionalism over vulnerability? Let us allow ourselves thinking time. Keep the output in mind when implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion training. Come up with a plan to address safety in training delivery. Get clarity on techniques leveraged to establish safe incubators for growth and learning.

Provide Experiential Learning

Don’t get bogged down by the technicality of delivering a boatload of conceptual materials. This approach is guaranteed to lose your audience along the way. Meet your audience where they are. A quick way to note this upfront is to do a check-in. Consider pairings or smaller group sizes to set the stage for authenticity. Debrief as a large group after that to address any challenges that have surfaced. Responses will give cues as to whether there is a trust issue. Assess nonverbal cues that also signal you’ve lost participants and adjust accordingly. Be sure to include ample time for authentic conversations that support comprehension of complex topics. Pause the schedule, get present, and hold space for those willing to get vulnerable and grow together in the training incubator.

Model Inclusive Behaviors

Walk the talk when delivering training. Demonstrate vulnerability to model desired class engagement behaviors. Plan an approach to combat unconscious bias that could derail your success. All of us contend with bias daily. Similar to the approach we take to minimize discrimination in hiring by removing names from resumes, we can use the picker wheel tool to eliminate bias in determining who we call on to participate in training.

Hold Learners Accountable

Deeper learning occurs outside the training environment when participants have had a chance to practice in their typical settings. Increase the understanding by providing opportunities for accountability. How? Ask for a commitment from your participants to take action personally and professionally on new knowledge. Then follow up to ensure participants carried through with promised commitment. Another way is to create a follow-up training that builds on the knowledge imparted.

by Simone Morris


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