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Sheela Mani is an experienced trainer and facilitator with 15 years of experience in the field of Human Resources. Her repertoire of skills includes Talent Management, HR Consulting, Personnel Management, Executive Search, and IT Recruitment. In 2014, she decided to add another feather to her cap as a Trainer and Facilitator. Sheela recently joined KNOLSKAPE as Senior Facilitator. In this post, she shares with us her journey as a Facilitator.
Should you wish to connect with her, or simply share your thoughts on her journey, you may drop her a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After being in the field of Human Resources for over 15 years, I decided it was time to fulfill my dream of becoming a Facilitator. My journey as a fulltime Facilitator started with a Consulting firm, as a Sales Trainer for an automotive industry. It was challenging but very interesting. I spent the next few years honing my facilitation skills, and that has brought me to an interesting turn in my career. Recently, I joined KNOLSKAPE as a Senior Facilitator, and since, I have leaped into the world of simulations. It’s been an exhilarating experience so far, like sitting on a seat belonging to Michael Schumacher in the F1 race.
My first full session with KNOLSKAPE took me to the Philippines. While I thought traffic in Kuala Lumpur was bad, Manila has the worst traffic congestion. It takes at least an hour during peak time to get to a venue just 4kms away. So, punctuality seems to be an impossibility among this community. Yet, this doesn’t take away from the experience of working with the wonderful people of Philippines.
As this was my first experience as a facilitator with KNOLSKAPE, and using simulations to drive the learning proves, my preparation for this workshop was filled with anxiety. However, the audience was so wonderful, constantly keeping me on my toes that I did not have time to give into my anxieties. By the time I flew back to Malaysia, my confidence was higher, and I was ready for my next experience. It came quickly. Soon after my return from The Philippines, I was on my way to Indonesia, the land of diversity.
This was an experience that was filled with personal revelations and reflections. The only time that I got out of my hotel room was when I had to go to the workshop venue. This made me realize how different I am now from my younger self. The younger Sheela went looking for adventures. Today, I am anxious at the prospect of going to the coffee shop close by to have a decent meal. Despite having traveled extensively, I now felt insecure in this foreign land. This isn’t reflective of the country, rather my own anxieties. As a Facilitator, the only objective you have is to deliver a good session. But with so much anxiety, it is a tough challenge for someone like me. But my experience in Indonesia was no different from my first experience in the Philippines.
After two fantastic facilitation experiences, my confidence level increased tremendously, and I was ready to “explore the world”. Telling myself that my next trip was going to be greater, I arrived in Manila again. To my despair, what happened was the completely the opposite. My flight was delayed, I had to wait an hour for a cab from the airport, it was raining heavily in Manila, and the roads were flooded. Because of the bad weather, there was also no internet/Wi-Fi connection and the phone signal was out. This disastrous start to the experience only worsened on the day of the workshop. Participants came late due to the weather and flood, and we went without our morning break as the food supplier only managed to get to the training venue around lunch time. Can you imagine facilitating a bunch of ‘Hangry’ learners? The saving grace here was that the participants were engaged, and absolutely loved the simulation that we used as part of the workshop.
Now, why am I sharing these experiences with you? It is because of the revelations I had from these experiences, which I believe are very important for all facilitators to keep in mind.
- For a Facilitator, preparation is not limited to subject matter expertise or content delivery alone. There are always going to be several uncertainties, any of which can easily affect the experience during the session. As facilitators, it is important to be mentally prepared to deal with these uncertainties. A good tip is to know about the weather, the traffic conditions, the transportation, etc. These seem insignificant compared to the task at hand, of facilitation. But they can just as easily put a dapper on the experience.
- We live in the most diverse period in history. Researching as much about your group of learners is crucial. Any bit of research that one can do will not go in vain. The city, the state, the country, the work culture of the team or organization, gender-specific research, age-specific research, ethnicities, etc., all can add value to the experience of the session.
- Finally, it is important to remember that whatever can go wrong, more often than not, will definitely go wrong. No matter what happens, keep calm and focus on your objective and deliver the best you can.
As this beautiful journey of mine as a Facilitator continues, I look forward to exploring and learning new things. Like my CEO says, “when one is teaching, two are learning”! I cannot wait to see what’s in store for me next.
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