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Consider Voluntary and Non-Voluntary Selection: Tool #1

Consider Voluntary and Non-Voluntary Selection: Tool #1

When it comes to selecting staff to develop MI skills, there are two camps of thought.  In one camp, all staff are required or “voluntold” to be trained and held to the same standard, creating an “all systems go” culture in which everyone experiences the new learning.  In the other camp, the belief is that training and learning MI should be voluntary.  There are, of course, merits to both approaches.  Here are our Director Brad Bogue’s thoughts on choosing the voluntary camp when implementing MI with your staff…

If you can include some elements of voluntary selection in your implementation process, you may find greater intrinsic motivation in your pool of learners.  Intrinsic motivation is likely related to a greater capacity for reflective thinking and stronger abilities to adapt to using the new skills.  In short, when you can create opportunities for staff to say “yes” to the training, rather than having to go, you likely will fill the training room with brains more open, ready and hungry to learn.

This leads to another benefit of voluntary selection – by avoiding pushback, implementations of MI are more likely to go deeper and faster.  Once the first round of inspired staff reach critical skill and style thresholds in their use of MI, interest in the skill can go viral as other staff observe them demonstrating genuine expertise and the increased positive outcomes that go with it.

Of course, there can be challenges to overcome when aiming for voluntary selection…

What if very few self-select?

To increase the likelihood that staff say “yes” to voluntary training, you would strongly highlight the reasons to say yes.  Write up or give a talk about the exceptional benefits that come from learning the skill, and specifically the tangible positive shifts they are likely to see in their interactions with clients, i.e. “how this could make you even more effective and satisfied while doing your job.”  Also highlight any kudos that learners might get by participating in the training.

What if you don’t have the luxury of being able to present training as an option?

Consider a first round where all staff must attend the initial training, and then a second round where inspired staff have the option to self-select for more in-depth training, such as follow-up coaching and/or attending peer-learning groups where the participants become tried-and-true experts in the skill.

What are your thoughts and challenges around the recommendation to aim for as much voluntary participation as you can when implementing new training?  As always, we are here to help, and you are welcome to give us a call or shoot us an email to brainstorm what might fit for your specific situation.

If you’d like to learn more about our Skill-Builders coding and coaching services for MI skill development, please click to our Skill-Builders page for more information.

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