Do What You Agree To Do


Things beyond our control sometimes crop up and challenge us to respond from time to time. One such incident happened just yesterday to a colleague of mine. He spent some time developing a program of Life Management content and specifically geared each days lesson to a target group of young fathers on Social Assistance.

In developing the two-week class, he contacted and got commitments from fourteen young men who agreed to attend and yesterday was day one. At the time he was supposed to start, he walked into the Employment Resource Centre I was staffing and when asked how many had shown up, he held up two fingers. “Two”? I said and he nodded. Now I know it’s all about the client and we’re the ones with the jobs and get paid whether or not we run a workshop, but all that effort and work to prepare, the cost of printing books etc., and only two clients follow through. How disappointing for him as the Facilitator.

To his credit, he spent the day phoning each man who had previously committed to being there and asking for an explanation. You can guess the replies he received such as, “I just woke up”, “Was that today? I thought it started tomorrow”, and the classic, “I forgot”. So today he’ll re-start the program and hopefully a minimum of 10 are now expected. Of course these young men are on Social Assistance for a reason, largely the choices they’ve made and continue to make. The life skills they need are precisely the things the course would cover and address, and hopefully be one of the small steps they need to take to move in the right direction.

The interesting thing is that none of the participants was made to attend, all had been personally contacted to determine their level of interest, there was no penalty for not showing up, and in fact, they would all be financially compensated for attending. A head-scratcher for some of us to understand. While we tell our potential clients all the time to only agree to do things that they really intend on following through on, many do not. Maybe if you facilitate workshops you too have had a similar story to share.

One of the really nice qualities of the colleague of which I speak is his even-keeled demeanor. Not too many lows or exaggerated highs, level-headed and forgiving. He and I know that the guys who choose not to attend are the ones that fail to benefit, not to mention their sons or daughters. Rather than some punishment or requirement in order to receive rent and food money, it’s an opportunity to learn some skills to take forward, maybe find a better attitude or new ways of looking at things that they can adopt and again, move forward to their goals.

In addition to nine days of classroom learning, the tenth day is to be a fun day with father/child activities at a local gym and pool followed by some grub and an appearance by the Big Man himself all the way from the North Pole. I’d think that day would be one to look forward to and the timing being in December would be a nice way to end the year and start thinking about making some changes in 2013.  I hope it works out. Some of those activities planned have to now be scaled back, as the non-class on day one means cutting out a days worth of learning.

My hope is that if you are out there looking for a job yourself, and you are given an opportunity to participate in some training event, that you take full advantage of it. You may not get an opportunity to start on day two if the class went ahead on day one without you. These training  courses are opportunities to improve your skills, make you more marketable to employers, boost your own self-image and self-esteem, and of course to learn something and think of things differently than you might have before.

If you want to be respected by others, show them respect as well. Show up when you are expected or call to explain your absence or delay. Apologizing for absences and lateness is just good manners. Sure you have a lot going on and it may be hard to get around and you have a lot on your plate. The very reason you are often being offered training and learning opportunities is to give you skills that will eliminate some of your barriers to employment. It would be a shame if you couldn’t be depended on to attend things you sign up for and are skipped over on a list for something you really want because your reputation is one of being irresponsible. In short, do what you agree to do.

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