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Employee Centered Training Published: Sunday, January 18, 1998 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

In the knowledge society, people interested in education can readily appreciate the value of a pedagogical - training methodology that is unique, special, radically different from the customary and the accepted, undermining of old tradition. It is called the non-directive training and teaching perspective which it is centered on the employee. We have worked with this method for quite a long time, gathering interesting results. We have a very distinguished colleague, Dr. Edmundo Jiménez, who is the current and principal exposer of this methodology. The key elements of this formidable approach are:

  • Assuring the presence of an unstructured scenario.
  • Always encouraging thinking.
  • Acknowledging the importance of acceptance.
  • Great deal of intellectual content, by raising problems for consideration. The founder was Carl R. Rogers, for whom we have a great debt and made reference in a previous article.

This training process is altogether unstructured, meaning that is not formally or systematically organized, and to the contrary is loose, free and open. At no moment anyone knows, not even the trainer, what the next situation will bring forth in the training room, what variety of topics will come up for discussion, what questions are going to be raised, what personal and intellectual needs, feelings and emotions will be aired. It requires reflection, tolerance, patience and great capacity to cope with uncertainty and ambiguity as core attributes of everyday life. It is funny... the world, markets and environments are full of ambiguity and contingencies, but some people pretend to design educational ventures ignoring such sensitive imperatives. As doctor Jiménez emphasizes, training and education are not precisely controlled experiments.

The aim of this framework, centered on the employee, is to construct a truly flexible learning atmosphere for non-structured freedom, so free as human beings can allow each other to be, while interacting with dignity and respect. The purpose is for employees to think creatively, becoming deeply involved with their very persons, their very selves, hoping that this may lead to the reconstruction of the person; outlooks, attitudes, values and behaviors as opportunities of improvement. The experience should lead to a real reconstruction of the experience, signifying learning in a profound sense. It is not the purpose of this methodology to engage in a huge examination of textbooks, articles, handouts and other related materials followed by the traditional end-term evaluation, which generally means completion and forgetting. The radical proposition is that thinking begins at the fork of the road, the farmed dilemma set up. Thus, as the group reach the fork in the road, participants do not exactly now which road to take if they are to reach a destination; then they begin to examine the situation. Thinking starts at this point. The training sessions present crucial problems for discussion and these problems raise a great deal of interest and create vast changes in persons and teams performance.

It is a core predicament for this proposal that if participants feel accepted, and in this acceptance there is no judgement, only compassion and sympathy; the participant is able to come to grips with himself and develop the courage to give up his defenses and face his other true self while confronting reality.

With excitement and inspiration we have seen this process work. Amid the early efforts to communicate, find a modus vivendi, it creates in the group tentative exchanges of feelings, emotions and ideas. But after several sessions, and progressively thereafter, the group joins together, becoming close to one another and their true identity appears. As they interact with intensity, there are moments of insight, revelation and understanding that are awesome in nature. These are moments of true learning, pregnant circumstances when you can almost see a human soul revealed before you in all its breathless wonder, and sometimes meditation as a form of reverence will overtake the session. And each member of such session shows warmth and solidarity as signs of collaborating for achieving a transformational experience. This is learning and transformation! By transformation its meant the healthy change in the participant, an increase in flexibility, openness and willingness to listen. In the process, the whole group feels elevated, freer, more accepting of each other, more open to new ideas, trying hard to understand, accept and find multiple ways for personal and institutional improvement.

As we all know, this is not a perfect world and you can always find mutants showing hostility due to the challenge of paradigms and intellectual exchanges. But somehow in this setting every blow is softened as if the sharp edges are remove; undeserved, participants will go off to something else and the blow is commonly lost. People that originally seemed irritating, with further acquaintance they develop acceptance and respect. The logic is that once you come close to a person, perceive thoughts, emotions and feelings, that human being becomes understandable, good and desirable. Such a beautiful dynamic goes hand to hand with the proposition of very famous social scientists such as Emile Durkheim and Georg Simmel suggesting that as the intensity of interaction progresses the frequency of conflict and irritation increases, but the intensity diminishes due to the understanding of real thoughts, feelings and emotions. By combining flexibility, thinking and acceptance as main factors in the design of a training endeavor, a great deal of intellectual content emerges which is meaningful and crucial to the person in the sense that it means a great deal to him or her as a significant subject.

The method is free, flowing, open and slightly permissive. A participant can start an interesting discussion; it would be taken up by a second; but a third one can take us away in another pertinent or impertinent direction, bringing a personal or unrelated issues to the discussion. It is all like life, flowing on like a river, seemingly futile, with never the same water there, flowing on, with no one knowing absolutely what would happen on the next occasion. But the scenario also creates expectancy, alertness and aliveness. It is as near a smear of life as one can get in a real session. For rigid souls who put their faith more on form than in content this approach can be threatening, for there is no absolute reassurance, only openness, flowing and no closure.

Copyright 1998 QBS, Inc. 
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